The Friends’ Association of the Royal Seville Symphony Orchestra was formed on the 20th May 1993 soon after the creation of the Symphony Orchestra in the city. In the same year the founding statutes of the Association were drawn up and the first annual general meeting was held in which the group’s aims were established.
The Association’s board is made up of the president, two vice presidents, secretary, treasurer and six other members. The current president is Mr. Victoriano Martín Ortiz and elections are held every three years.
The main aim of the Friends’ Association is, as outlined in the second article of the statutes, to contribute to the “strengthening, improvement and dissemination” of the Seville Symphony Orchestra’s work. Its aim is to act as an association of friends of the Orchestra in particular, as opposed to simply music in general.
During its first few years, the “friendship” between the Association and the Orchestra focussed on its various parts. With more than fifteen different nationalities among the Orchestra’s musicians, the task of the Association’s members was initially to act as a “welcoming committee” for those who had recently arrived and help them to settle in to their new home of Seville. This task was made particularly rewarding due to the various professional competences that Association members could offer to the newly arrived musicians in helping them resolve any difficulties.
The Association’s activities have become ever more structured due to the participation of the vast majority of its members of whom there were 430 in the first year.
The Association’s activities have been made possible through funding from membership fees (the fee has remained the same since the beginning), subsidies from the Junta de Andalucía for musical scholarships (these subsidies are no longer in place) and sponsorship.
The Association is also always open to new funding initiatives and is keen to welcome back former contributors or look for new sponsors or patrons.
The Association looks to the future with optimism. The mission for the current board and its recently elected president is clear: consolidate its main activities. These activities range from scholarships and chamber music to bringing in new subsidies and extending current ones, which will make it possible to increase the current amount and scope of activities. Furthermore, the Association plans to support exchanges between orchestras, take chamber groups to cities where there is currently no musical training in place, resume activities from previous years that have ceased and finally continue to ensure that the voice of music-lovers is heard by the Orchestra. Via an agreement with the Orchestra’s management, the President of the Association is allowed to attend the Orchestra’s board meetings as a non-voting ex-officio member in order to participate in those issues concerning the Association. As a result communication between the Orchestra and its audiences improves.
Over the years the main activities organised by the Association have been the following:
Over the course of the Orchestra’s concert season, some selected concerts have featured talks prior to the first performance, in which the concert conductor discusses the main musical characteristics of the work. Attendees to the concert have found these talks to be extremely informative and to enhance their experience. These talks now form part of the ROSS programme.
The idea for these dinners came from a comment made by an American musician about musical dinners he had attended in his own country where members and musicians from the Orchestra would get together. The musicians would bring their instruments and a dinner would be served during the event. The idea has proved to be a success and many friendships have been created since. Prior to the dinner, the invited musicians speak about the instrument they play, its history, manufacture, evolution over time and current importance and role within a modern orchestra. The chance for attendees to learn about these aspects of the instrument, to see and hear it up close, have made the event very popular. The musicians then play a musical piece of their choice for the diners to enjoy before dinner is served.
The Association has created an award which is given to the person or entity whose performance during the year is considered to be the best musical event of the season, be it due to the excellent work by a conductor in the Orchestra or simply a performance from an artist or the conductor of a particular concert. The award is widely recognised and winners are given a sculpted trophy designed by the Sevillian sculptor Nicomedes Díaz Piquero.
The free “PARAÍSO” newsletter has been published by the Association for several years and is distributed to all members, musicians in the Orchestra and other organisations. It contains a comments section about the Orchestra, the yearly programme and important upcoming musical events.
For several seasons now the Association has participated in the floral decoration of the stage of the Maestranza Theatre for the ROSS concert season performances.
On two occasions the Association has recorded a CD featuring different pieces which have always been taken from the chamber groups that make up the Orchestra. Due to the financial cost of this activity, however, it has not been possible to carry this out again since the funding that the Association receives from sponsorship goes on the concession of scholarships for students at conservatories and the annual programme of chamber music.
This is one of the activities of which the Association is most proud. It is recognised that the concession of scholarships is an excellent way of collaborating with the Orchestra by helping those musicians who are likely to form part of the Orchestra itself in the very near future. Originally scholarships were awarded to the chosen student annually for a duration of one year following an audition in front of a tribunal. In recent times scholarships for two years have been awarded and are led by members of the Orchestra itself. In the last few seasons there have been up to four recipients of the scholarships.
CHAMBER MUSIC CYCLE
The chamber music cycle together with the musical dinners and the scholarships are the three most established activities. The cycle started with four or five annual concerts and has even included, in the 2005/06 season, three concerts put on by chamber music groups from Córdoba, Granada and Málaga. In the future it is hoped that there will be further exchanges between different orchestras in Andalusia.
There are currently around 10 concerts held each season. ROSS has had several sponsors since its conception and today the cycle is run in collaboration with the management of the Orchestra and is exclusively sponsored by the language academy ELI (English Language Institute). The academy is headed by its owners Ms. Victoria Stapell and Mr. Richard Johnson who are both great music-lovers and care greatly about the area of culture. They are regarded as pioneers of business patronage within the private sector.
The concerts are currently held on Sunday mornings in the Espacio Turina and are attended by a loyal audience who return year after year. Tickets can be purchased for the whole cycle or bought separately.
The price for a cycle season ticket is currently 128 Euros. Tickets for individual concerts are sold at 16 Euros for the general public and 8 Euros for those under 26 (I.D. required). Members of the Association benefit from a 30% discount when purchasing individual season tickets.