How To Apply

Join the fun!

Admission is by online application and teacher recommendation. You need to be aged 13-18, Grade 8 standard or above. Applications for 2022 are now closed. To apply please complete the online application form.

If you have any queries, comments or suggestions, please use the contact page

ESO Before a Concert outside St John's Smith Square

Our principal activity is the annual Orchestra Course, which takes place over the October half-term. This comprises a five-day residential course during which a programme of music is rehearsed for a concert in a national venue on the final afternoon. Recent venues have included St. John's Smith Square, the South Bank Centre and Cadogan Hall in London.

Music for the Annual Concert is always chosen to present a challenge to our musicians - extensive tuition and sectional rehearsal being given during the course by our professional tutors to ensure that such challenge is met with resounding success!

Find out about some of our recent concerts and repetoire.

If you would like to know more about the Orchestra, please contact us using the contact information at the bottom of this page, or submit an online query.

Further Information

  • Deadlines for Applications for the 2022 Course

    Once the application process opens, applications can be made at any time. All applications must be completed online via the English Schools’ Orchestra (ESO) website. No audition is required; however, students must be of at least Grade 8 standard (Grade 7 Strings) and we reserve the right to request a teacher recommendation.

    Applications will be reviewed on an individual basis and placement offers made based on the needs of the Orchestra.

  • Fees for the 2022 Course

    Fees for the 2022 course: Course + Residential £420.00, Course only £200.00.

    The residential course fees are inclusive of all tuition, full board, accommodation, local transport and the use of social and sporting facilities at the residential centre, as per the schedule for the course.

    Non-residential course fees are inclusive of all tuition, full cooked lunch and high tea.

    Fees are payable on acceptance to the course.

    The balance of all fees (less any bursary award) is due by 01 Sept 2022. If the balance remains unpaid after that date, we reserve the right to offer your placement to another student, unless a prior agreement has been made with the ESO accounts team regarding your final payment.

    Once paid, all fees are non-refundable save at the absolute discretion of the ESO. It is advisable to take out your own personal insurance to cover this eventuality. All cancellations must be via email to

    The ESO reserves the right to cancel the course in the event of unforeseen circumstances, in which case all money will be refunded.

  • Bursaries

    The Potential Trust may be able to offer financial assistance to enable students to participate in the ESO Course and Concert if this would otherwise be difficult. Please see the "What We Fund" section on the website for more information. To apply, contact Anna Comino–James on 01844 351666 to discuss making an application for a bursary. If you are unable to contact her by telephone, please email Bursaries are awarded at the discretion of the ESO and The Potential Trust. You can find out more information about The Potential Trust on our Partnerships page.

  • Programme

    Whilst the programme details are published in good faith, the ESO reserves the right to make any necessary changes to repertoire and artists if circumstances require. Such changes shall not be deemed as sufficient reason for any player to withdraw from the course. Refunds of fees are only made if the course does not run.

  • Insurance

    The insurance of personal possessions, including musical instruments, is a parental responsibility. The ESO and members of staff cannot be held responsible for any loss or damage and parents are advised to ensure that their insurance cover is adequate.

    All personal items should be clearly marked with the owner’s name.

    Personal accident insurance is recommended as extracurricular activities, however well supervised, inevitably carry a small risk of accidental injury.

  • Concert Dress

    Please make sure you dress carefully and appropriately for concerts, taking care to look neat, tidy and professional. Concert day dress code is all black with the following guidelines;

    Option 1:

    Black blouse or dress (no bare shoulders)
    Ankle length black skirt or loose black trousers
    Black shoes and black tights or black socks (no bare feet)

    Option 2:

    Black long-sleeved shirt
    Black trousers
    Black shoes and black socks (no bare feet)

  • Transport

    Transport to Dame Alice Owen’s School in time for the start of the course is a parental responsibility, as is the collection of participants at the end of the concert on Sunday 30 October 2022.

    For residential students, local travel between the residential centre and Dame Alice Owen’s School, is included in the course fee.

    Travel for all students (residential and non-residential) from Dame Alice Owen’s School to Cadogan Hall, London on Sunday 30 October 2022 is included in the course fee.

    Seatbelts, where fitted in any vehicle, must be worn as a condition of travel.

  • Medical Matters

    There is first aid trained staff on site and available at all times during the course.

    It is essential that we are fully informed in advance of the course, on the Personal Information Form, of any medical requirements, medication etc and of any other issues in general which might affect the well-being of the student. Failure to do so, and which in the opinion of the pastoral staff is prejudicial to the welfare of the child or of other course members, may result in the child being asked to leave the course. In such cases no refund of fees will be made.

    Our pastoral staff are able to look after and dispense medication if required and parents will also be asked in advance of the course for permission to dispense common household medication e.g. painkillers.

  • Expectations

    There will be a small number of house rules which must be observed to ensure the smooth running of the course and the well-being of all participants.

    It is important that all students enjoy the course and are able to give of their best.

    Possession or use of any form of alcohol, tobacco or illegal substances is not permitted and infringement will inevitably lead to exclusion from the course, without any refund of fees.

    The ESO reserves the right to exclude any student whose behaviour is unacceptable or disruptive or who is unable to comply with instructions given by staff. In such circumstances, no refund will be available and any associated costs, such as transport home, will be a parental responsibility.

    Deliberate or reckless damage of ESO/Dame Alice Owen’s School property will be charged to parents.

    In order to ensure continuity and to maintain the high standards of the Orchestra, students are expected to attend the entire course. Absence from rehearsals will not be permitted unless requested upon acceptance of your placement on the course. Any absence on the course will be granted at the absolute discretion of the ESO.

  • Communication During the Course

    Contact telephone numbers for pastoral staff will be issued at the start of the course.

    Mobile phones are permitted but they must be switched off during rehearsals and between 10:00pm and 7:00am. Misuse will result in confiscation.

  • Residential Matters

    Accommodation for our residential students is in a purpose-built residential centre, generally in multi-bedded dormitories. Wherever possible we try to meet requests for room sharing. Pastoral staff live onsite during the course and all have DBS clearance.

    Evening meals are taken together, and food is provided by our residential centre catering team, who are well used to catering for special dietary requirements. We can only cater for dietary requirements if we know about them so please ensure details are completed on the Personal Information Form for each child.

  • Publicity

    Photographs are taken and video/audio recordings made during the course.

    These are used only for archive and publicity purposes. Individual players are never identified. However, we recognise that, for a variety of reasons, it may not be appropriate for some children to feature in such photos or recordings and there is an opportunity to opt out on the Personal Information Form.

    Please contact us if you have any concerns.

For more questions, see our Frequently Asked Questions page.