Our Team

Our highly experienced team provide purpose and direction to the NSSO, whilst helping to create an environment in which our members can thrive. Our courses provide children the opportunity to experience the joy and fun of orchestras, often opening a lifelong connection to performing, whilst also encouraging creativity and boosting a child’s learning.

National Schools Symphony Orchestra

John Madden

Artistic Director

John hails from Liverpool, where he was a chorister at the Anglican cathedral, and read music at Selwyn College, Cambridge.

He is a composer, conductor and keyboard player and was Director of Music for over thirty years in a number of schools, including Hutcheson’s Grammar School in Glasgow, Radley College and the Dragon, Oxford.

He regularly runs music workshops in schools, works as an adjudicator and examiner for the ABRSM.

National Schools Symphony Orchestra
National Schools Symphony Orchestra
National Schools Symphony Orchestra

Richard Dickins

Principal Conductor

Richard studied conducting with the late Norman Del Mar and subsequently worked as Del Mar’s assistant on many occasions with orchestras such as the Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic and Bournemouth Symphony.

Since then he has built an enviable reputation working with orchestras throughout the UK including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, London Mozart Players and Ulster Orchestra. Richard is well known for his work with young musicians. He became conductor of the Symphony Orchestra at Imperial College London whilst still a student and was later appointed the College’s first Director of Music.

A graduate of the Royal College of Music, he maintains his links with the RCM where he was principal conductor of the Junior Department for over twenty years.

National Schools Symphony Orchestra

Leandro Silvera

Conductor of NSSO Sinfonia

Leandro was born in Argentina and moved to London in 2005 to become Head of Strings at King’s College School, where he conducts the Symphony and Chamber Orchestras. He is Head of Chamber Music at the Royal College of Music Junior Department, where he has been a tutor for over ten years.

He is also the conductor of the Pro Corda Chamber Orchestra and regularly coaches and conducts for the National Children’s Orchestra and Stoneleigh Youth Orchestra. He has recently been appointed Head of Strings at Eton College.

National Schools Symphony Orchestra
National Schools Symphony Orchestra
National Schools Symphony Orchestra

David Smith

Course Director for Young NSSO

David has worked with Young NSSO from its inception. Whilst still performing regularly on radio and TV, he has a deep commitment to inspiring young musicians to develop their skills. He worked in senior schools for many years, conducting and building instrumental music, before joining the Dragon School as Head of Instrumental Studies in 2007.

He has taught pupils from beginner to diploma level, established new ensembles within the schools and raised the standard of performance, worked as a consultant on saxophone and clarinet publications and is the featured soloist on Christopher Norton’s Clarinet and Saxophone Concert Collections, currently on the ABRSM repertoire lists. He has also coached and performed with leading jazz and classical musicians in the UK and has been Head of Woodwind for Uppingham Summer School.

Instrumental Tutors

The strength of any youth orchestra is the quality of coaching offered, both at an individual level and in sectional rehearsals. Our Heads of Section are the backbone of the course team. Highly experienced and respected performers and teachers themselves, they lead a team of individual instrumental coaches which ensures that our orchestras are well prepared and musically engaged throughout the course.

National Schools Symphony Orchestra

Stephen McDade

Head of Strings

Stephen trained at the Royal Academy of Music studying violin under Clarence Myerscough and tuba under Patrick Harrild and John Fletcher. He has been an active freelance violinist, playing with the RLPO and in many West End musicals, as well as solo and chamber music performances.

Before taking up his current position as Head of Strings at Malvern College, he was String Co-Coordinator for The Berkshire Young Musician’s Trust and Head of Strings at Dean Close School, Cheltenham.

Stephen had a long-standing involvement with the National Children’s Orchestra and was the principal conductor of ENCORE (the NCO alumni ensemble) for ten years.

National Schools Symphony Orchestra
National Schools Symphony Orchestra
National Schools Symphony Orchestra

Rebecca Wood

Head of Wind

Rebecca started playing the oboe at the age of seven, was a member of the National Youth Orchestra becoming Principal Oboe in her final year, and was also a woodwind finalist in the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition in 1992.

A graduate of the Royal Academy of Music she undertook post graduate studies at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where she has been oboe professor in the Junior Department since 2010.  She has extensive performance experience, both as soloist and in various national orchestras and west end shows, and has coached and led the wind section of NSSO for many years.

National Schools Symphony Orchestra

Simon de Souza

Head of Brass

Simon studied horn with the virtuoso Ifor James at Colchester Institute, winning several prizes for chamber music, and pursued his postgraduate studies at Trinity College of Music in London.  He has a busy schedule as a freelance performer alongside a major commitment to the brass quintet Chaconne Brass, with whom he is frequently heard on radio and TV.

Simon has been the specialist horn tutor at Wells Cathedral School for twenty-five years, has the same position at the Junior Department of the Royal Academy and is also Professor of Horn at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. He has worked with NYO and NCO as well as being the Head of Brass for NSSO since the orchestra was founded.

National Schools Symphony Orchestra

Our Founder

National Schools Symphony Orchestra

David Evans

Founding Artistic Director

David has been involved in music education since the early 1980s. He worked for the IAPS Orchestral Board and subsequently founded the administration which was later to become NSSO, of which he was Artistic Director until 2014.

He is currently Director of Music at Hereford Cathedral School. NSSO is grateful to him for his vision and the energy which sustained the organisation through its first two decades.

National Schools Symphony Orchestra

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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 581640 // 01684 581616

Latest News

NSSO Rehearsal July 11, 2018

A short snippet from yesterday’s rehearsal in St Edmunds Hall with Richard Dickens…enjoy! Watch more of all three of orchestras over on the National Schools Symphony Orchestra YouTube channel.

QUICK! Don’t miss funding for NSSO 2019 June 7, 2018

The FUTURE TALENT fund is open for 2018/19 applications for its Young Musicians Development Programme. The deadline for completed applications is at 12pm on Monday 11 June 2018! Future Talent’s Young Musicians Development Programme offers financial support and development opportunities to young musicians; instrumentalists and singers from ANY genre of music, based anywhere in the […]

Congratulations Will! June 6, 2018

Congratulations to Will Gold, who has played first bassoon in NSSO Main Orchestra for many years, and has been offered a place to study bassoon at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland next year. He was made the on-the-spot offer at his audition in Glasgow at his audition after playing Telemann’s Sonata in F Minor and […]