“Assuming the disguise of a Second Trombone, I joined the band in which you found me when I had the happiness of seeing you!”

The Mikado


The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company welcomes those interested in playing in our orchestra.

General Information

Each production has a pool of about 60 orchestra musicians.  Currently, over 30 musicians play for a performance.  Some orchestra members play for every performance; others choose to be scheduled or to substitute for only a portion of a production’s run.

The orchestra uses standard instrumentation, including Violin, Viola, Cello, Double Bass, Flute, Clarinet, Oboe, French Horn, Bassoon, Trumpet, Trombone and Percussion.

Orchestra members are paid $17.00 per rehearsal and performance.

If you are interested in further information about the Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company orchestra, you can learn more on our About Us: The Orchestra page.

Experience Required

Anyone interested in joining the orchestra should be an experienced musician, ideally with several years experience performing with orchestras, bands or in theater company pit orchestras.  The orchestra’s current musicians have an average of 15 years experience playing in such organizations.


The Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company’s Music Director is also the production’s Conductor.  This allows the Music Director, who is responsible for developing the musical interpretation, to be able to realize that concept throughout the entire run of the production.  The Music Director for our 2020 production of Ruddigore was Randy Buikema.

The orchestra and its interests are represented on the company’s Board of Directors by an Orchestra Representative.  Company clarinettist Barb Hovey is the current Orchestra Representative.

The company engages one of the musicians to serve as Orchestra Manager.  The manager is responsible for recruiting instrumentalists, arranging rehearsal schedules, making the schedule for performances, and so on.  Bassist Ann Marie McIntire is the current Orchestra Manager.


The Orchestra Manager contacts all orchestra members to determine who is interested and available for rehearsals and performances.  Musicians who have performed with the company in the past generally have priority in scheduling, but as all are not available for all performances, musicians who are newer to the organization are critical to filling the schedule, both as initially scheduled and as last-minute substitutes.


The orchestra rehearses on three Sunday afternoons, usually in February, beginning four weeks before a production’s opening night.  The orchestra and cast rehearse together, for the first time, at a Sitzprobe on the Thursday before the final Tech Week.  Finally, the orchestra rehearses with the cast, on stage, for the final two dress rehearsals, on the Tuesday and Wednesday of Tech Week, plus the Thursday Final Dress / Preview Performance.

The orchestra’s February rehearsals are held at Saint Christopher’s Episcopal Church, at Highway 36 and Hamline Avenue, in Roseville.  The Sitzprobe and all dress rehearsals are held at the company’s performance space, at The Howard Conn Fine Arts Center, Plymouth Congregational Church, at Franklin Avenue and Nicollet Avenue, in south Minneapolis.


Orchestra members are expected to attend at least three rehearsals prior to the production’s opening.  An orchestra member can play for as many shows as are available and that they are interested in doing.  Including the Preview Performance, the company does fourteen to fifteen performances of a production.

The orchestra’s call time is thirty minutes prior to the performance.  Orchestra members are expected to be in place, tuned and ready to warm up. 

The company’s performances generally run for two and a half hours.

How to Join the Orchestra

If you are interested in becoming a member of the Gilbert & Sullivan Very Light Opera Company orchestra, please let us know on our orchestra mailing list.

“The nurse to whom your husband was entrusted is the mother of the musical young man who is such a past-master of that delicately modulated instrument.”

—Don Alhambra Del Bolero
The Gondoliers