As dozens of SHOT members drift back and forth with chairs and steel carts full of instruments fifteen minutes before rehearsal, suddenly the dark sounds of a tuba fill the audio room. Not much later, the sound of a clarinet and several trumpets also follow. The busy dance of chairs means that, at the stroke of 8 p.m., not a seat is left free and more than forty SHOT members see conductor Ronny Buurink take a seat on a brown bar stool.
For those unfamiliar with the orchestra, it's a special scene: how an empty hall can turn into a vibrant harmony ensemble in no time. Buurink has been conducting the SHOT orchestra for decades and it shows. The conductor doesn't give an introductory talk, but wants to get straight to work. 'Carmesina', he calls out, after which all members quickly get ready for the paso doble by composer Manuel Morales Martínez.
The most popular instrument among SHOT members is the trumpet. Ten members hold the instrument tight to their lips. One of them is Aron Boerkamp (23), president of the association. 'Everyone who can play an instrument that fits in a harmony orchestra is welcome to join us. It is actually going very well with the association. In recent years we have had about 65 members,' says the trumpeter before the weekly meeting.
SHOT saw the light of day in 1991 and has been associated with UT for over thirty years. Once every two years, the orchestra crosses national borders for a concert tour. SHOT has performed in Germany, England, Spain, Austria and Hungary. The highlight of SHOT's history was a visit to China for the 20th anniversary of the association. These are stories that president Boerkamp can only dream of. 'I have been a member of SHOT for three years, but due to all the restrictions a trip with SHOT was not yet an option for me. As a club, we are yearning to make another trip and give another concert.'
With the baton in his right hand, Buurink leads the orchestra through the repertoire. Occasionally, he resolutely puts everything on hold if he doesn't like it. 'People, this is a Spanish piece. It's 40 degrees here. I want more expression and weight. And those wind instruments are for blowing on. Not so anxious. We pick it up again at measure 30. Three, two, one!', and his baton swings through the air again. A comical sight: only the handful of orchestra members at the back of the room - responsible for the percussion instruments - wear a face mask. The other musicians, armed with a wind instrument, logically do not.
Boerkamp talks about SHOT's plans. Because now that corona measures are fading into the background, SHOT is only too happy to do the opposite. 'In the summer we want to go to Munich and Italy for an international concours. Those are wonderful weekends for the club. We are also planning a concert with former members of SHOT. If all goes well, that concert will take place in March. We missed these kinds of events. Rehearsals often went reasonably well during the lockdowns, for example outside in the open-air theater, but we could not hold performances for a long time.'
Whatever the case, the first thing they will have to do is rehearse again to get back into top form. That's important not only in sports, but also in an orchestra, Boerkamp knows. 'After a vacation, everyone always has to get used to it. We call that vacation embouchure. That's when the condition and technique of the lips, tongue and facial muscles are not yet optimal. You see this return every year, but it often doesn't last long. As SHOT, we are especially happy that we have had a large number of members for years, especially since fewer and fewer young people play an instrument. Fortunately, that's not the case with us,' Boerkamp concludes, as the orchestra gets ready for the Tarantella's fourth symphony.