How much does it cost to apply?
There is no fee to apply or audition for Southbank Sinfonia.
Can I apply if I have already applied before?
Yes. Demand for places in Southbank Sinfonia is high and sometimes players who eventually gain a place in the orchestra were unsuccessful on their first or second attempt. If you have applied before but feel you have made good progress since then and would like to try again, please do not give up. When applying, make sure you tell us in your form what new things you have done musically and how you have progressed since your last application.
Can I apply if I am still studying at music college or university?
Owing to the intensity of the programme, this is not normally practical so we would strongly recommend you wait and apply once you have graduated. If you are a student planning on taking a gap year, or other exceptional circumstances prevent you from applying for Southbank Sinfonia once you have completed your studies, we may still consider an application from a student. However, in addition to your application, you must also arrange for your Head of Faculty or Department to send us a detailed letter about your situation, vouching that they are willing for you to put Southbank Sinfonia ahead of studies in 2014.
Is there an age limit?
Officially there is no age limit for Southbank Sinfonia though principally we are here to help people in the first few years of their career, so most members are usually in their twenties. Some have just graduated, and some have already been working for a few years, so you can still apply even if you left education a while ago.
Can I apply on more than one instrument?
Yes. Please submit a separate application for each instrument.
Do I need to have studied in the UK in order to apply?
Many Southbank Sinfonia players have completed an undergraduate or postgraduate music degree in the UK and are therefore familiar with living and working in a major UK city, but each year we also welcome players who have studied abroad. Living and working in London can be challenging so it may be helpful if you have already studied or worked in a similar city or major town worldwide.
Will I need a visa?
Every country has its own specifications about whether a visa or any other documents are needed to work in the UK, so you should check online what is expected of you. For many countries, particularly those in the EEA (European Economic Area) and EU (European Union), this is fairly straightforward. For players from other areas, we only have authorisation from the UK Border Agency to assist a very small number of musicians (1 or 2 a year at most) to gain a work visa to move to the UK for the 9-10 months of the Southbank Sinfonia programme. We encourage applicants to arrange their own visas wherever this is possible (for example with a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa). We regret that if you are not able to arrange a visa for yourself which enables you to live and work in the UK for the period of Southbank Sinfonia’s programme, we may be unable to take your application forward. You are welcome to contact us to discuss this with us in more detail if you are not sure of what is required.
Do I need to speak good English?
Yes. All of our team, guest artists and partner organisations converse and write in English, so it’s vital that you have very good use and understanding of the language.
For my audition, will I have to prepare the cadenza of the concerto movement?
You do not have to prepare the cadenza unless you personally want to.
Can I bring my own accompanist to the audition?
Yes, you can bring your own accompanist to the audition and will have chance to warm-up briefly with them on one of the pianos in our rehearsal spaces.
Can I still take part if I have other musical commitments next year?
In order for you, and all your fellow players, to get the greatest value from being part of Southbank Sinfonia, we do expect you to commit to the whole programme from mid-January to the end of October. Our usual working pattern allows you most Mondays, Fridays and weekends to pursue your other career interests, although occasional concerts and workshops fall on these days but we will provide players with a full list of these ‘dates to note’ when they first join. 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 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 small 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.
What does the programme include as well as playing orchestral music?
Chamber music is a central part of the Southbank Sinfonia programme as we believe it help it enables players to get to know each other better and strengthen our ensemble dynamic as an orchestra. Throughout the year there are many opportunities to rehearse and perform chamber repertoire at our base, at the Royal Opera House and at venues further afield.
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 CRB 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.
They 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.
Can I play a concerto with the orchestra?
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 late 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.
Where do Southbank Sinfonia players live?
Southbank Sinfonia players are expected to find their own accommodation for the year. We strongly recommend you find somewhere within Greater London so you do not have to travel excessively; this is especially important on occasions when we have concerts at venues around the UK and return very late at night to London when much of the local transport has shut down and only nightbuses across the city and taxis are available. Many Southbank Sinfonia players live fairly cheaply with friends or other young people in flats or house shares; others rent rooms from families or individuals who are happy to accommodate young artists. If you have great difficulty finding somewhere to stay, we may be able to help make connections for you.
What is it like, being part of Southbank Sinfonia?
If you know anybody who has been in Southbank Sinfonia in recent years, we strongly recommend you ask them about being in the orchestra: they will be able to give you a good impression of the many opportunities it involves and the commitment it requires.
Team spirit is one of the most important ingredients of Southbank Sinfonia, so there’s a very friendly atmosphere – not just among the orchestra, who come together from across the world but are strongly united by a shared love of music and desire to succeed – 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 and activities that help shed inhibitions and enable us to start feeling like a real team. Early in the programme, we have a short short residency out of London developing our sense of ensemble, delving into chamber music and preparing for our first encounters inspiring young people. We could tell you more about what it’s like being in Southbank Sinfonia, but here’s what some current and former members have to say:
For me, Southbank Sinfonia has been about more than just playing my clarinet – I finally felt able to be a musician. It has been the best year of my musical career so far. Being in such a supportive and friendly environment has given me so much confidence, not just when I perform but in everything that I do. Tom Caldecote, clarinet, 2012
The past six months in Southbank Sinfonia have been really amazing. I feel privileged to have been given the opportunities to develop my skills and knowledge whilst also being able to spend time with other enthusiastic musicians. I would highly recommend it to other young players! Ruth Rosales, bassoon, 2012
The vast range of music played, the incredible professional and friends I have met at Southbank Sinfonia all make me more determined to succeed as a violinist Alice Hall, violin, 2011
If you have any further queries about the programme or the audition process, please do not hesitate to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or you are welcome to call Jo Perry or one of our team on 020 7921 0370 who will be very happy to give advice.