Our Timeline

Established in 1994! Find out about our history.

  • 31 Oct 2021

    2021 Annual Concert


    This was probably our most eagerly anticipated concert since our first ever and at times it appeared like it might never happen. When we announced the programme for the 2020 concert in January 2020, we knew that this would be one of the most exciting concerts we had put on. Little did we know that only a few months later our plans would be put on hold…more

  • Isata Kanneh-Mason
    03 Nov 2019

    25th Anniverary Concert

    This year, the English Schools' Orchestra celebrated 25 Years.

    The main feature of the first half was the incredible performance of Clara Schumann's Piano Concerto featuring soloist Isata Kanneh-Mason. Isata was amazing to work with during the course, inspiring the students and commenting on how impressed she was with the quality of the Orchestra. She was particularly complimentary of Anna Maclean who brilliantly played the solo Cello part in the 2nd Movement of the concerto.

    The stunning concert was performed once again in front of a packed audience in London's Cadogan Hall. The Orchestra also celebrated their Silver Anniverary by performing Elgar's Cockaigne Overture and the magnificant 2nd Symphony by Rachmaninoff…more

  • 04 Nov 2018

    2018 Concert - Southbank Centre

    ESO with the Navarra Quartet
    "This is the first time we've played Beethoven", were the opening words from Robert Pepper, Musical Director, to this year's assembled English Schools' Orchestra.

    In order to take on Beethoven's 7th Symphony, this year the Orchestra was reduced in size. On a smaller stage and more intimate setting, the ESO showed that whatever the genre, they are up to the challenge. Ahead of our Silver Anniversary year and with a split half-term break across the UK, this seemed like the perfect time to try something different.

    The other new feature of this year's concert was to highlight the individual sections of Strings and Wind in two seperate pieces. The strings were joined by the inspirational Navarra Quartet in a performance of Elgar's Introduction and Allegro whilst the Woodwind and Horns played Struass's Serenade for 13 Wind Players…more

  • 22 Mar 2018

    3rd Composing Competition Finalists Concert


    Our 3rd Composing Competition came to its conclusion on 22nd March at London's Cecil Sharp House. Once again the English Young Artists' Sinfonia played each of the four finalist's pieces and a winner was chosen…more

  • 14 Oct 2017

    2018 Composing Competition Launched


    Be part of something special…

    We are excited to announce the third running of the English Schools' Orchestra's prestigious composing competition. This year we will be launching our latest competition for composers aged between 14 and 25.

    Following the highly succesful Competitions in 2014 and 2016, the English Schools’ Orchestra, in association with PRS for Music and the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, are once again proud to support a nationwide search to find the brightest young creative musical talent of the 21st Century…more

  • Paloma So
    29 Oct 2017

    2017 Gala Concert

    "What an incredible performance! It amazes me how you manage to take a bunch of musically talented school children for just over 4 days and are able to present a programme such as yesterday's, in front of such a discerning audience."

    The stunning concert was performed in front of a packed audience in London's Cadogan Hall on Sunday 29th October.

    This year's exciting programme began with an energetic performance of Berlioz's Roman Carnival Overture and featured amazing 12 year old soloist Paloma So performing Saint Saëns's 3rd Violin Concerto. The second half showcased possibly one of the Orchestra's most polished performances with their rendition of Sibelius's Symphony No.2…more

  • 30 Oct 2016

    2016 Annual Concert


    This year's concert continued our highly successful run at Cadogan Hall in London on Sunday 30th October 2016. The course was held during the half-term week, Wednesday 26th October to Sunday 30th October at Dame Alice Owen's School, Potters Bar.

    We were delighted to invite the winner of our most recent Composing Composition, Sebastian Skelly, to compose a new work, "Nineteen Twenty-six", to celebrate HM the Queen 90th Birthday. The new piece was extremely well received, prompting a standing ovation as Seb joined the Orchestra on stage.

    The concert opened with Brahms's "Academic Festival Overture" and also provided students an opportunity to enjoy playing the ever popular "Pictures at an Exhibition" by Mussorgsky. The highlight of this year's programme was the 1943 composition "Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber" by Paul Hindemith…more

  • 2016 Finalists Concert
    19 Apr 2016

    2016 Finalists Concert

    April 2016 saw the culmination of our second Composing Competition with the Finalists' Concert on 19th April 2016 in the Great Hall, Goldsmiths, University of London. The three finalists' compositions were performed by the English Young Artists' Sinfonia with the winning composition being chosen by our judges on the night…more

  • 01 Nov 2015

    2015 Concert with Cordelia Williams

    Cordelia Williams

    We were delighted this year that Cordelia Williams joined the English Schools' Orchestra to play Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor at our annual concert in Cadogan Hall.

    Cordelia Williams has been acclaimed as a pianist of “great power and delicate sensitivity” and this was demonstrated in a spectacular performance of Rachmaninoff's most popular Concerto.

    The Orchestra also gave performances of Shostakovich's Festive Overture and Prokofiev's dramatic 5th Symphony…more

  • 01 Sep 2015

    2016 Composing Competition Launched


    Be part of something special…

    Following the highly succesful inaugural Competition and Finalists' Concert last year, the English Schools’ Orchestra is once again proud to support a nationwide competition to find the brightest young creative musical talent of the 21st century.

    In association with PRS for Music, the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation and the Peter Ustinov Foundation, we are jointly launching a composing competition for young people. We invite young composers between the ages of 14 and 25 to submit an original composition of their own creation…more

  • 28 Nov 2014

    Composing Competition Finalists Concert

    Friday 28th November saw the final of our Composing Competition in association with PRS for Music. All four finalists had their compositions performed by the English Young Artists' Sinfonia at the Apothecaries Hall.

    The four finalists were Leo Geyer, Seb Skelly, Freddy Wickham and George Owen…more

    Composing Competition Finalists
  • ESO Horns
    02 Nov 2014

    20th Anniversary Concert

    This year's concert featured an entirely English programme including a new work by Edward Gregson commissioned for the Orchestra by PRS for Music, one of our main sponsors which also included the Southend Boys' and Girls' Choirs.

    This year's Concert returned to Cadogan Hall, London and the Course was held during the half-term week, Wednesday 29th October to Sunday 2nd November at Dame Alice Owen's School, Potters Bar…more

  • 18 Feb 2014

    Composing Competition Launched


    Be part of something special…

    PRS for Music and the English Schools’ Orchestra are proud to support a nationwide competition to find the brightest young creative musical talent of the 21st century.

    2014 is a special year for both of these organisations. PRS for Music is celebrating its Centenary and the ESO has reached their 20th year of music making.

    In celebration of these milestones, we jointly held a composing competition for young people. We invited young composers between the ages of 14 and 25 to submit an original composition of their own creation to commemorate the Centenary year of PRS for Music and the 20th Anniversary of the English Schools’ Orchestra…more

  • 2013 Concert
    03 Nov 2013

    2013 Annual Concert

    Following the highly successful concert in October 2012, the English Schools’ Orchestra returned to the Cadogan Hall in London on Sunday 3rd November 2013 for their annual concert.

    This year was the most ambitious yet with 100 young players from schools all over the country assembled at The Haberdashers’ Aske’s School, Elstree, Hertfordshire for the orchestral course that began on Wednesday 30th October, to begin rehearsals on repertoire including Mahler’s epic First Symphony…more

  • 04 Nov 2012

    2012 Concert with Guy Johnston

    Guy Johnston

    The most challenging aspect of the course was learning the rarely performed Moeran cello concerto with the young virtuoso cellist Guy Johnston. The Orchestra was so fortunate to have so much time available with Guy to develop a musical understanding. Guy’s empathy with the young players was immediate and in the concert the level of rapport achieved brought about a truly memorable performance.

    The concert opened with Walton’s Coronation March Orb and Sceptre. This provided particular challenges for the brass section with the rapid interplay of fanfares and triumphant themes. Once again these were soon taking shape alongside the beautiful sweeping melodies played by the rest of the orchestra…more

  • 2011 Concert
    30 Oct 2011

    Cadogan Hall 2011

    The major undertaking was Shostakovich`s Symphony No 10, an emotionally charged and physically demanding work which was tackled with relish. Its raw energy has a particular appeal for young players of this quality. Bobby Chen, a young pianist who is a legend in his home country of Malaysia, joined the orchestra to give a poetic account of the Grieg piano concerto and the concert opened with an adrenalin rush rendition of Glinka`s famous Ruslan and Ludmilla overture.

    Students attending this year's course came from schools countrywide and they were once again joined by four young musicians from Russia as part of the scheme initiated by HRH Prince Michael of Kent…more

  • 30 Oct 2010

    Verdi Requem at Symphony Hall, Birmingham

    Watch highlights of our performance of Verdi's Requiem featuring soloists Sara Hartley, Lisa Byrnes, Octavio dos Santos and Gerard Delrez.

  • 30 Oct 2010

    2010 Concert, Symphony Hall, Birmingham

    Pines of Rome

    Sixteen years on from the very first concert given in London's Barbican Hall, subsequent generations of youthful and talented members of the English Schools' Orchestra have not only consistently maintained the initial high standards achieved by their predecessors, but have even managed to outstrip all expectations and each year shown themselves capable of tackling ever more ambitious musical challenges with hugely successful results.

    This year was no exception. Respighi's four-part symphonic poem, The Pines of Rome and the Messa da Requiem by Verdi, represented stern challenges for the 80+ members of the orchestra; challenges they met with immense success, both technically and musically…more

  • 31 Oct 2009

    Southwark Cathedral, London

    Southwark Cathedral

    It is extremely doubtful whether the well-worn sporting cliche 'You're only as good as your last match' could ever be applied to musical performances and it probably isn't true anyway. But if it were, then the latest outstanding performance by the English Schools' Orchestra and Choir in their annual concert on 31st October in Southwark Cathedral, would guarantee this magnificent team of singers and orchestral musicians a secure position close to the top of the premier league of youth orchestras.

    A capacity audience enjoyed a programme that consisted of music from the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries - the latter represented by a specially commissioned piece by the distinguished composer David Bedford, with funds made available by PRS for Musicmore

  • 01 Nov 2008

    The Planets and Alison Balsom

    Alison Balsom

    This year something approaching 90 young players from schools all over the country assembled at The Haberdashers' Aske's School, Elstree, Hertfordshire for the orchestral course that began on Tuesday 28th October, to begin rehearsals on a challenging but very popular programme. The first play-through of the major work in this year's programme, the Planets Suite (opus 32) by Gustav Holst, caused a few first-timers' jaws to drop somewhat, as they were confronted by some testing passages, especially when the string section met Mercury for the first time, but soon composure was restored and in time, under the expert tuition of the well-established team of experienced professional section tutors, everything began to take shape, with apprehension quickly giving way to increasing confidence as notes fell more easily into place.

    Of the many highlights in this splendid concert, one that everyone will remember for a long time to come, was the brilliant trumpet playing of the virtuoso soloist Alison Balsom in Hummel's Trumpet Concerto in Eb…more

  • 27 Oct 2007

    2007 Concert

    Cadogan Hall

    One year on from the highly successful 2006 concert in Cambridge, the English Schools’ Orchestra and Choir moved back to London for this year’s concert in the beautifully restored Cadogan Hall. This fine hall, with its excellent acoustics, proved to be an ideal venue in which all the performers were able to display their considerable musical skills to a large and appreciative audience.

    Since its creation in 1995 the English Schools’ Orchestra, whilst always playing music from the treasured canons of the 18th and 19th century composers, has often ambitiously ventured into 20th and 21st century music, and the concert this year, included the London premier of a work by Sir John Tavener. Written for string orchestra and soprano soloist, ‘The World’, is a setting of an elliptically enigmatic poem by Kathleen Raine, to whom it is dedicated ‘with great affection’…more

  • 29 Oct 2006

    2006 Concert

    Cambridge Corn Exchange

    The 76 members of the English Schools’ Orchestra travelled this year to Cambridge to give their annual concert in the Corn Exchange with a challenging programme of music by Tchaikovsky, Gershwin and Jonathan Dove.

    Twenty four hours before the concert, news came through that caused considerable unease in that Martin Roscoe was unwell and unable to perform as soloist in the Gershwin Piano Concerto. This fine concerto is not in every concert pianist’s repertoire and a very uncomfortable two hours were endured before eventually the 26 year-old pianist, Chiao-Ying Chang, was contacted and at very short notice and to much relief agreed to play. In spite of having played the concerto only once before she travelled to Elstree to rehearse with the orchestra and immediately all concerns were allayed as she soon showed everyone just why she is steadily building a fine reputation as a concert pianist of the highest calibre and why she was a prize-winner at the Leeds Piano Competition three years ago…more

  • 29 Oct 2005

    2005 Concert

    This year in October, in the smaller but beautiful venue of St John’s, Smith Square, the orchestra and choir of 2005 gave the first concert of the second decade, performing music by Butterworth, Rutter and Brahms.

    St John Smith Square

    Of necessity, the choir this year was smaller than in 2004 due to the confines of the stage dimensions at St John’s. Nevertheless something approaching a hundred singers from five school choirs coped well with the exuberantly syncopated rhythms and strong climaxes of John Rutter’s setting of the Gloria and more than held their own against some powerful playing provided by the brass, percussion and organ accompaniment.

    St John Smith Square

    For five days prior to the concert, section rehearsals with experienced professional tutors and full rehearsals under musical director Robert Pepper gradually bore fruit and the initial extremely challenging technicaldifficulties posed especially by Brahms in his first Symphony, but also by Butterworth in the rhapsody for orchestra “A Shropshire Lad”, and John Rutter in his popular “Gloria” for choir and orchestra, gradually began to seem less daunting. Soon the music was being played with ever increasing confidence by all sections of the 70-strong orchestra…more

  • 31 Oct 2004

    10 Years of the English Schools' Orchestra

    2004 Concert

    Tenth birthdays normally come and go without too much in the way of extravagant celebration but the English Schools’ Orchestra and Choir duly celebrated their tenth anniversary with a fine concert in the London Barbican on Sunday October 31st 2004. The orchestra of 89 players from 46 schools represented one of the largest yet assembled (including two young violinists who travelled from Madrid and who had “discovered” our existence through the internet) and the choir of 180 singers from eight schools, not only promised exciting music making but more prosaically presented quite a challenge for those responsible for the organisation of the venture and particularly the seating on the stage…more

  • 31 Oct 2003

    2003 Concert

    Royal College

    In 2003, London was the venue for yet another exciting and highly accomplished end-of-course concert on November 1st at the Royal College of Music, which is the alma mater of so many of this country's fine musicians and indeed not unknown to a few members of the orchestra who study there in the Junior Department on Saturdays throughout the year…more

  • Jul 2003

    Tour of Australia

    Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney - Australia

    In April 2000 the English Schools' Orchestra represented England at the International Festival of Youth Orchestras in Canada. It was a great experience for all who were involved. That tour was a comparatively small affair with an orchestra not much larger than a well-padded chamber ensemble but following a visit to London last year by the Australian Youth Choir it was suggested the full orchestra should reciprocate and tour Australia this summer.

    It was a bold plan and months of preparation ensued. Many details were considered and discussed at length and gradually things began to take shape, but transporting an orchestra of 63 players, 8 staff and all the instruments, was no easy task. Much of all this pre-tour work was undertaken by the orchestral manager Diane Davies, and eventually on Monday 28th July, the tour party met at Heathrow to leave for Australia…more

  • Tomorrow's Musicians Today
    Oct 1994

    Our Beginnings

    The English Schools' Orchestra and Choir, founded in 1994, exists to provide the opportunity for talented young orchestral musicians and singers, still in full time education, to meet and perform with other similarly talented young people from all over the country.

    Our principal activity is the annual Orchestra Course, which takes place over the October half-term. This comprises a one-week residential course during which a programme of music is rehearsed for a concert in a national venue on the final afternoon…more

Tomorrow's Musicians Today