Our History

NSSO was born in Suffolk in 1994 and gave its first concert at The Maltings Concert Hall in Snape, home of The Aldeburgh Festival, founded in 1948 by Benjamin Britten. Since February 2016 it has been operated by Malvern College and hosted on the beautiful campus and against the backdrop of the spectacular Malvern Hills. David Evans was its founding Artistic Director, followed in 2014 by John Madden, with Nicole Wilson taking over as Artistic Director in 2022.



NSSO has always appointed experienced, professional conductors, skilled at relating to young people and able to make appropriate demands on them. In recent years, these have included former ENO musical director Mark Shanahan, Bath Philharmonia principal conductor Jason Thornton, Peter Bridle MBE and Principal Conductor of the Royal College of Music Junior Department, Richard Dickins.

The orchestra has also worked with leading soloists including Susan Bullock, Peter Donohoe, Ronan O’Hara and Tim Hugh. In 2013 it marked the Britten centenary with a wonderful account of his Violin Concerto with Tamsin Waley-Cohen. In 2014 Catherine Young (ENO) sang Elgar’s Sea Pictures with the orchestra at the Malvern Theatre.

The first NSSO course brought together 78 young musicians at Snape and made a modest surplus of £28! Whilst numbers have remained remarkably constant over the years, standards have risen consistently and the orchestra has performed to growing audiences. It has also been able to offer support to large numbers of children whose parents need assistance to meet the fees for the annual course.

Over the years NSSO has grown to include 3 orchestras ranging from the Academy- a training orchestra for grade 3-5, the Sinfonia – a full size symphony orchestra for grades 5-7 and the Philharmonic for the most experienced and senior players for students who are grade 7 up to and beyond diploma level.

Joining NSSO offers each student an inspirational journey, progressing over the years through the orchestras. Once you have won a place on a NSSO course, you remain a member for subsequent years up to and including age 17. Members are not required to re-audition each year.

NSSO has always offered vital experience to those who aspire to membership of the National Youth Orchestra, bridging the gap between school or county orchestra and the NYO. It has also provided continuing opportunities to alumni of the National Children’s Orchestra (NCO).

NSSO’s annual residential course is a great fit for those talented individuals with wide-ranging interests and commitments for whom music is important but not always a career or higher education goal.

Our orchestras provide a programme of individual instrumental coaching with professional tutors, the experience of playing in smaller ensembles, sectional and full rehearsals, culminating in a final day of concerts for parents and friends at Malvern College.

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If you have an enquiry about any aspect of NSSO please feel free to get in touch:

NSSO, Malvern College, College Road, Malvern, WR14 3DF

T: 01684 581695

E: hello@nsso.org

Latest News

A warm welcome to Joe Davies, our new Sinfonia conductor! December 12, 2023

We are delighted that Joe Davies has agreed to join the NSSO family from 2024 and will be conducting the Sinfonia Orchestra. Recently praised for his ‘musical brilliance’ (Seen and Heard International), Joe Davies is Musical Director of the UK Proms in the Park Orchestra, Worcester Philharmonic Orchestra, Leamington Sinfonia, Coventry & Warwickshire Youth Orchestra, […]

Applications now open for 2024! December 12, 2023

We are delighted to be accepting applications for our courses in 2024 and look forward to another exciting year of music making at Malvern College!