National Schools Symphony Orchestra
Residential Orchestral Courses
12th – 19th July 2015 at Malvern College
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The National Schools Symphony Orchestra (NSSO), and the Young National Schools Symphony Orchestra (Young NSSO), offer important experience to those who aspire to membership of the National Youth Orchestras, bridging the gap between school or county orchestra and the NYOs. But its single annual residential course is often a better fit for talented pupils with wide ranging interests and commitments, for whom music is important but probably not a career or higher education goal. This year NSSO is housed once more in Malvern College, its town centre situation and excellent facilities providing an ideal base for the week and Young NSSO occupies The Downs (Malvern College’s prep school), a very safe environment in which to make music in the beautiful setting of the Malvern Hills.
Each course provides a similar programme of individual instrumental coaching with professional tutors, experience of playing in smaller ensembles and sectional rehearsals, culminating in a final concert in the Malvern Theatre. The essence of the week balances concentrated music practice with a vibrant social life under the auspices of an experienced and committed pastoral team. Participants also gain a lot developing the social skills necessary to benefit from a week long residential course and return home tired but very happy!
The National Schools Symphony Orchestra (NSSO) Ages: 13-19 Grades: 7-8+
The senior orchestra in the residential course, NSSO has been providing stimulating musical experiences since 1994. Standards are high and good music reading skills are essential. The concert programmes are ambitious. Amongst the repertoire in previous course were symphonies by Mahler, Rachmaninov and Vaughan Williams; tone poems by Richard Strauss and Dvorak; concertos by Elgar, Tchaikovsky and Brahms. Soloists have included Susan Bullock, Peter Donohoe and Timothy Hugh. In 2012 the orchestra premiered Impressions of America by film composer Patrick Doyle, a patron of NSSO since 1999. The conductor in 2013 was Jason Thornton, ably supported by an outstanding team of instrumental tutors, and the concert programme included Britten Violin Concerto (soloist Tamsin Waley-Cohen) and Rimsky-Korsakov Scheherazade.
The Young National Schools Symphony Orchestra (Young NSSO) Age: Up to 13 Grades: 5-7
Like the senior courses, Young NSSO adopts a hallmark mixture of full orchestra sessions, sectional and individual instrument coaching. The members have unrivalled support, gain confidence, and enjoy the opportunities of performing music together and recreational fun. Young NSSO lays the best possible foundation for the enjoyment of orchestral music and is a musical and social ‘must’ for those who love music. Keith Slade directed the orchestra in 2013 and repertoire included music by Malcolm Arnold, Vaughan Williams, Percy Grainger, Chabrier and John Williams.
“Having conducted many youth orchestras throughout my career I found my time with NSSO truly wonderful. The were kind and supportive and the logistics were superb throughout. However, working with the young musicians was extraordinary! I found all of them engaging, hardworking and supportive of me and each other. It was a humbling experience to present great pieces to these young musicians in such an amazing environment. Having conducted Elgar all over the world it was very special to rehearse and perform The Gerontious Prelude and the Cello Concerto in the shadow of the Malvern Hills. I don’t think any of us will forget it!” Jason Thornton, Conductor, 2011