Thursday, 13 December 2012

The Joy of Meetups – by Heather Ackroyd (Clarinet, Soprano)

It all started on March 31st 2012. In a welcome thread in the private DWFO Facebook group, several members mentioned they lived in or near Maryland, USA. Robin LaPasha (Assistant Co-Ordinator) indicated a couple of other members who were in nearby states and said, “Hmm… anybody else in that zone?” To which I responded, “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

Thus started a series of communications planning our first ever DWFO meetup. At the time the group was in the middle of learning and recording parts for the Dalek Suite, and we decided that the Memorial Day weekend (May 26th – 28th) would be a good time for a local get-together. Aside from being a long weekend in the US, the Dalek Suite submissions would be over and we would have just started looking at the music for our next piece (which we hadn’t settled on at the time, but it was to be a suite from The Impossible Astronaut).

None of us were quite sure what to expect, and as the hosts for the event my husband and I were a bit nervous about how it would go. It turned out our fears were unfounded. We had a total of eight participants at that first meetup, and we spent a good portion of the weekend playing music. Mostly we started learning our brand-new piece but we also revisited old DWFO projects, including regaling our neighbours with an outdoors rendition of the entire Dalek Suite.

Having taken part in several projects at that point, I’d already developed quite a strong feeling of community simply through active participation in the Facebook group. But actually being in the same room as we played the music was so much better. When we weren’t playing our DWFO music we were watching Doctor Who, or going for a swim in the nearby river, sightseeing a bit, or going out to dinner. I think we all came out of that weekend feeling much more connected, and frankly the music workshops really helped us get our heads around some of the trickier bits of The Impossible Astronaut.

Thus, when TIA was over and we were looking at the new piece – a suite from A Christmas Carol – our thoughts naturally turned to having another meetup. After some discussion about location, it was decided that we would be hosting again at our house in central Maryland in early November. A couple of the people who had come to the first one were unable to make the second, but we gained a new member for a total of seven for the November meetup.  

There aren’t words to express how wonderful it is to get together in person to play this amazing music. Even though we only have a handful of instruments, it lets us hear the piece more fully than with the guide track we receive to keep us in time for our audio submissions. And simply being able to discuss the piece and hum or play the bits we’re talking about is so much more effective than trying to describe something in text as a Facebook post. The feedback is immediate and we all improved over the course of the weekend, one to the point where he made his recordings on the Sunday.

This time around we also decided to get into a proper festive mood by creating a short dramatic video. It was a fun little project that took maybe an hour to film, and it might just shed some light on exactly how Santa manages to get around to everyone on Christmas Eve.

Here’s to many more meetups to come! 


  1. This was really fun to watch. I can hardly wait to see how "A Christmas Carol" turned out -- I'm guessing a lot of us made festive fashion statements for the occasion. :)

  2. This reminds me of the ELO fan band...the Doctor would love this beyond measure...salute you! When do we get to hear you play?