Applying for Southbank Sinfonia: Frequently Asked Questions
If you already have musical commitments planned for next year, you can tell us about these at your interview and we can address together whether you would be able to fulfil them. During the programme, if you get a work opportunity with a notable professional ensemble, venue or festival that is likely to make a genuine difference to your orchestral career prospects – such as an audition, trial or concert with a major orchestra – we will always consider the possibility of granting you an ‘NA’ (not available) meaning that you can miss some activities to facilitate this, with a relative deduction to your bursary. Naturally, we expect you to participate as much as possible in the programme – principally so you can derive all the skills, insights and experience that being a full member of Southbank Sinfonia offers – so NAs cannot always be granted, but we always aim to help you in the best way we can.
Everyone who is offered a place in the orchestra is given the chance to be considered for a concerto performance with the orchestra during the year. This involves a special Concerto Day in November when you will be asked to play part or all of a concerto to demonstrate your potential. Although it sounds like another audition, Concerto Day is a warm and friendly occasion where you will first meet other members of the orchestra and some of our much valued supporters.
Throughout the programme, Southbank Sinfonia players also explore the vital role they have to undertake both now and in the future inspiring other young people to follow in their footsteps. Each year, our musicians have the opportunity – through a range of educational encounters – to change the prospects and aspirations of young people of different ages and backgrounds who have either never seen an orchestra before or who are taking early steps as musicians themselves. This is a vital part of our work which all players need to embrace enthusiastically. It’s also a vital part of all professional orchestras’ work, so it’s essential preparation for your future. On many of these projects, players bring their own ideas and imagination to leading rehearsals and workshops.
Please note that Southbank Sinfonia expects all new members to participate in a DBS check to ensure that you are fit to work regularly with children. This is a very simple procedure which you can read more about here, but it’s important that we complete it as part of our duty of care to those we work with.
Members of the orchestra also get to become advocates and ambassadors for classical music, introducing works during our concerts, writing and filming material for our website, and talking to our much valued supporters at receptions and special events, for which we have a fun training session with one of our Patrons, the eminent actress Patricia Hodge, and further coaching.
Team spirit is one of the most important ingredients of Southbank Sinfonia, so there’s a very friendly atmosphere not just among the orchestra, but also with the staff who are all here to help you excel, and our family of supporters whose generosity and belief in your potential helps make Southbank Sinfonia happen every year.
Being a professional orchestral musician is hard work. The programme is therefore action-packed and features some long days and late nights, but every year players build up the energy needed to thrive, standing them in good stead for a career in music. At the start of the year, we will spend our initial days in London plunging into repertoire for our first concerts alongside activities that help shed inhibitions and enable us to start feeling like a real team. Early in the programme, we have a short residency out of London developing our sense of ensemble, delving into chamber music and creative workshops. We could tell you more about what it’s like being in Southbank Sinfonia, but if you know people who have already been part of it, make sure you ask them. Here’s what some recent members have to say:
‘My experience with Southbank Sinfonia has surpassed my expectations. I had anticipated a busy and rewarding programme but never could have expected to have taken on as many exciting and interesting artistic challenges such as those undertaken over the past nine months.’ Jonny Abraham, trumpet
‘I never expected to have such a fantastic time, or be able to say I’d played so many major London venues. The repertoire we played particularly exceeded my expectations, as did the standard of the players involved.’ Luke Russell, flute
‘My expectations were to cover a large amount of repertoire and to see what life in a professional orchestral job would be like. Southbank Sinfonia has met my expectations and far, far more – I think the opportunities I have had this year have been incredible and I feel very lucky to have had them.’ Letty Stott, horn.
If you have any further queries about the programme or the audition process, please do not hesitate to contact us on email@example.com or you are welcome to call our team on 020 7921 0370 and we will be very happy to give advice.
Hear from current and former members, find out more about the careers of our alumni, and watch the highlights from previous years.