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Fifth Professional Experience Scheme Now Open For Applications

For a fifth successive year, applications are invited to join our Professional Experience Scheme: run in partnership with Ulster Youth Orchestra, this is a programme of coaching and mentoring from Ulster Orchestra members where young orchestral musicians join the Orchestra for three programmes in the 2022/23 season.

Playing in a professional orchestra is radically different to a music college orchestra, and getting the opportunity to do that in a range of concerts has been invaluable

Three times during the 2022/23 season, successful applicants will come to Belfast to join with the orchestra in rehearsals, and where appropriate, be invited to play in concerts. During these visits students will receive support and feedback from a dedicated mentor from within the orchestra, develop skills in auditioning, orchestral section playing, and observe and participate in the UO’s Learning and Community Engagement projects as well as taking part in a variety of other activities and training opportunities aimed at developing them personally and professionally.

The section gave me lots of different ways in which I could improve what I was doing, and live feedback meant I was constantly progressing as a player during rehearsals

The Scheme is open to present and past members of the Ulster Youth Orchestra who have left school and are studying (or are planning to study) music at tertiary level, or have recently graudated and are considering a career as an orchestral musician. Applications from non-UYO members will also be considered. Applications will be accepted from all orchestral instruments with the exception of piano and harp.
Applications can only be accepted from those 18 years and above at the time the scheme is due to commence (September 2022).
Participants will be selected by means of competitive audition.
The Programme
Successful applicants have the opportunity to play side by side with the Ulster Orchestra in rehearsals, undertaking three periods with the orchestra during the 2022/23 season, to include a variety of music with different conductors. PES students are supported by a mentor from within their section throughout these visits and receive regular feedback on their performance and development.
During the first period, students observe rehearsals with a member of the orchestra’s LCE team, develop critical listening skills, observe their section and the orchestra, and are encouraged to think about what will be required when they join the section. For the second and third periods, students join the orchestra in rehearsals, and at the discretion of their mentor, the section and the conductor, may participate in performances. Students are paid the full professional rate for their participation in performances.

I really enjoyed my time in Good Shepherd Primary School. I felt that it was a great insight into the different types of situations that we can find ourselves in as musicians

On each of their visits students take part in a variety of other activities and training opportunities. These include one to one sessions with their mentor offering guidance, support and expert tuition on technique and musicianship.  They will also participate in mock orchestral auditions in front of a panel with feedback on their performance and advice on how to enhance their expertise in auditioning and increase their chances of success. Other learning experiences include working with the orchestra’s Animateur in developing and delivering educational and community workshops, taking part in sessions with visiting conductors giving the students a fuller understanding of the workings of an orchestra and their role as a musician, and time spent focusing on leadership and encouraging them to explore and understand their own style of leadership.

It has been a great way to add to my experience of playing in professional orchestras and it is an experience that will aid me in the world of professional orchestral music

With regard to the vital importance of physical and mental wellbeing the students will take part in functional movement classes with a physiotherapist, specialist performance enhancement coaching, and round table discussions led by the students on topics important to them.

Travel to Belfast from the student’s usual place of study and any local travel costs will be paid for by the orchestra.
How to apply
Applications are open until 1200 on Monday 06 June 2022, by email only to Ruth Millar, Orchestra Manager using the address [email protected] and including “UO PES 5” in the subject field.
Applications will be accepted from all orchestral instruments with the exception of piano and harp. Applications can only be accepted from those 18 years and above at the time the scheme is due to commence (September 2022).
Applicants should attach a PDF or Word document, on one side of A4, including:
  • Name, instrument, age, contact details, current place of study
  • Detail whether they are a current or past member of the Ulster Youth Orchestra (a
  • A paragraph of not more than 300 words summarising their academic and playing history, and intentions for further study.
Shortlisted applicants will be invited to audition at the Townsend Street Presbyterian Church, Belfast on Friday 26 August 2022. Applicants will be asked to play a 5-minute own-choice piece and some orchestral excerpts (which will be made available after shortlisting takes place).
Successful applicants will agree a schedule of engagement across the season with the Orchestra Manager. All applicants will receive a written report on their audition.

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