Tuesday 14 November

My Life in the National Children's Orchestra

persephone allaway


I have just auditioned for the National Children’s Orchestra (NCO) for the fifth time. The first time sadly I was not accepted but I was determined and I auditioned again the following year and was delighted to be accepted.  

The NCO was founded in 1978 to provide younger musicians with an opportunity to develop their talent in a national symphonic orchestra.  In NCO there is an orchestra for each year group (from 7 to 14). We each have three residential courses during the year. These last for just over a week and at the end of the week we perform a concert for parents and paying public. I have played at Leeds Town Hall and at Birmingham Town Hall as well as the Symphony Hall around the corner. Playing in such wonderful venues, with phenomenally talented peers, has been such an inspiration to me. It has certainly changed my attitude to practising!

We also have the option to join a Regional orchestra which meets every month in term time. I love NCO so much because I have many friends I have met through the Regional and National orchestras. It is a kind yet challenging environment where you play lots of classical and modern music in a full orchestra setting. I have learnt how to listen to each part of the orchestra and how important counting bars is and most of all that you must to watch the conductor!

In my most recent concert we played excerpt from the last movement of Beethoven’s 5th symphony as well as more modern pieces for example a medley from the musical “Oliver!”.

If you love playing in bands or want to try playing in the orchestra, I would thoroughly recommend that you audition for NCO!