On Wednesday the 25th of October I was extremely excited to start English Schools Orchestra residential course.

Rehearsals took place at James Allen School, at St Albans,  from 9:30 to 18:30, split between sectionals and full rehearsals. I was inspired by the outstanding level of the participants (over 80 from all over the U.K.) and mentors. The pieces we worked were quite challenging, but varied and captivating: Shostakovich Symphony Number 5, Leonard Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances and Darius Milhaud’s Scaramouche which also included soloist Jes Gillam.

At night time, my room mate, a celloist from Cardiff, and I would usually listen to the playlist while reading the score. We found it a enjoyable and efficient way to consolidate the work we had done during the day. The workshop finished with a gala concert on Sunday 31st of October at St John’s Smith Square. Yes, Halloween! After it ended I just had time to dressed up a costume and go trick or treating. It helped that I was already dressed all in black!

I was extremely content with the way the orchestra performed. All in all, over 30 minutes of music learned in a very intensive but engaging week. I would strongly recommend this course to anyone between 13 to 18 years old at grade 8 standard or above. I think that this was one of the most rich, enjoyable and fun residential instrumental courses that I have ever been to. As you can imagine. I hope that everyone reading this also consider auditioning for this experience and can also enjoy the same experiences that I have enjoyed.

Goncalo (Year 8)