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Bringing music lovers together since 1978

The orchestra

The University Orchestra Maastricht was founded by enthusiastic amateur musicians of the Maastricht University in 1978, and Jo Juda was the first to conduct them. Over time, it has grown from a small ensemble into a full-sized symphony orchestra made up of students, academics, and associates of the University and Hogeschool Zuyd. As a result of its international character, it is not unusual to hear a mix of English, Dutch, German, French, and Limburgs during weekly rehearsals or social events.

Together with soloists from the Limburg Region and abroad, the orchestra performs music ranging from baroque (Bach, Händel) to romantic and fairly modern music (Tchaikovsky, Borodin, Stravinsky, Dvorak) at venues in Maastricht as well as in the whole of the Euregio. The orchestra has been under the baton of Raymond Spons since 2005. Concerts are given twice a year with repertoire selected around a theme. Past performances include ‘Old meets new’, where the orchestra played Liszt – Hungaria, Beethoven – Triple concerto (with the Mosa Trio) and various pieces composed by Composition students of the conservatoire Maastricht. In June 2022, the concerts were themed ‘An Eastern Fairy Tale’, with pieces inspired by ‘the far East’, like the Aladdin Suite (Nielsen) and Bacchanale (Saint-Saëns).

In recent years, a number of collaborative projects have taken place together with the University Orchestras of Strasbourg, Aachen, and Mannheim as well as the University Choir Maastricht. The University Orchestra of Maastricht has also worked on special projects together with popbands and Tuna Universitaria.

Our conductor

Raymond Spons was born in Eijsden in 1970. His musical career started at the Rijks Muziekacademie in s’Gravenvoeren (Belgium) and was continued at the Maastricht Academy of Music, where he obtained his diplomas as teaching and performing percussion musician, to which chamber music was added later. Raymond also took lessons and master classes with Rainer Seegers (Berliner Philharmoniker), Georg Breier (WDR and Bayreuther Festspiele) and Franz Lang (SWR Baden-Baden), among others.

Raymond gained orchestral experience with the National and European Youth Orchestra, among others, which eventually resulted in a permanent appointment with the then Limburg Symphony Orchestra (now Philharmonie zuidnederland) as “percussion leader and substitute timpanist”. Raymond also works on a freelance basis for various orchestras at home and abroad.

Besides his career as a percussionist, Raymond Spons completed the orchestral conducting course with Jan Stulen (Maastricht Academy of Music) in 2003. After various master classes with the Promenade Orkest and Het Brabants Orkest, he is currently working with various orchestras as a conductor. As Jan Stulen’s assistant, he conducted his first opera (The consul/Menotti) during a co-production Maastricht Conservatory/Limburg Symphony Orchestra. Raymond conducted the Limburg Symphony Orchestra and later Philharmonie zuidnederland more often during the annual series of carnival concerts and worked as assistant conductor for Ed Spanjaard. He also conducted the education project, Revue de cuisine (LSO/theatre group “the sequel”).

After more than 10 years as a percussion instructor and arranger (2001), Raymond became conductor with the Maastricht Scouts Band in the marching and show band, which he successfully did until 2019. With the Tegels Symphony Orchestra, he wielded the baton from April 2006 to September 2011.

With the Maastricht University Orchestra, Raymond has served as conductor since January 2005 to the present.

Our concertmaster

Siana Dragneva began her career as an apprentice to her father. A native of the city of Varna in Bulgaria, she studied there with Genoveva Burova and Stoika Milanova. She also participated in several master classes with Sashko Gavrilov, Yfrah Neaman, Viktor Liberman and Philippe Hirschhorn, among others. After completing her studies in her native country, she came to the Netherlands in 1996 to continue her studies at the Utrecht Conservatory with Philippe Hirschhorn. After the latter’s death, she continued her studies with Eeva Koskinen, also in Utrecht. Siana played a.o. in the Nieuw Sinfonietta Amsterdam and the Netherlands Ballet Orchestra. Since 1999, she has worked as a violinist with the Limburg Symphony Orchestra in Maastricht and currently with the Philharmonie Zuidnederland.

As a chamber musician, she regularly performs with colleagues from the orchestra in a string quartet. In 2003, she founded Vivace String Trio with Jordan Schwartz and Gabriel Arias Luna (Philharmonie Zuidnederland) with performances in Limburg. Their aim is to delve into the rich, yet unknown to wide audiences, repertoire for string trio.

The Board

President: Caroline Huijts

Secretary: Nicole Hildebrand & Nina van Wijk

Treasurer: Merel Aberle

PR: Iris Doolaar

Librarian: Anne Marie Muysken