The Young National Schools Symphony Orchestra (Young NSSO) made its highly successful debut in 2011. It was created to provide opportunities for younger players to gain orchestral experience following the closure of the IAPS orchestral courses, but has grown into a very successful training ground for those younger players who wish to join NSSO.
Members of Young NSSO are drawn from both state and independent schools, are typically aged 9-14 years old and playing at about ABRSM grade 5 standard or higher. The orchestra provides an outstanding opportunity for these young musicians to play repertoire which is likely to be beyond the ability of their school or local ensembles.
Numbers for the annual course are currently limited to 60 players. The week is closely modelled on the hallmark NSSO format. At the start of the course members work with specialist instrumental coaches, to help meet the technical challenges of the repertoire, before joining together in sectional rehearsals led by our Young NSSO Heads of Section. The ensuing full orchestral rehearsals are thus carefully prepared for and very positive experiences. In general the sessions are shorter than those of NSSO and the breaks more numerous.
The repertoire for Young NSSO is chosen with great care so as to challenge but not overwhelm the players. Performances have featured music by Verdi, Britten, Vaughan Williams, Brahms, Ravel, Prokofiev and Eric Coates alongside recent film scores including those of Patrick Doyle, the patron of NSSO.
Young NSSO joined with NSSO in 2011 and again 2013 to play Ravel’s Bolero and Shostakovich’s Festival Overture and in 2014 provided the chorus for the NSSO performance of Holst The Planets. In this way younger players are afforded a glimpse of what the senior ensemble achieves as well as inspiration for their own aims within the organisation. Most members of Young NSSO graduate to NSSO.
Music is at the heart of the Young NSSO experience, but there is also a really strong, inclusive activities programme organised by a very experienced house staff. Typically there would be swimming and field sports, quizzes, a chance to explore the Malvern Hills (under close supervision), indoor table games and some art/craft sessions too. The end of the week usually finds the children exhausted but exhilarated by their musical achievements and delighting in new friendships. In this way we aim to foster a love of orchestral playing and a real desire to achieve ever higher standards.