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Professional Experience Scheme Opens for Sixth Year

We have pleasure in announcing that the application process is now open for our Professional Experience Scheme in the 2023/24 Season. 

You get so much attention, you get supported in so many different ways, it’s such an invaluable opportunity to get to play with a professional orchestra and to be around world class musicians.
My confidence has really grown all the way through and it’s from being able to come in and play in such a safe environment which is free of negative judgement and only has encouragement and constructive criticism. 

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.

About the Professional Experience Scheme
(Applications are now closed for the 2023/24 Season)
Running in partnership with Ulster Youth Orchestra, the Professional Experience Scheme (PES) is designed for musicians who have left school and are studying/planning to study music at tertiary level, or have recently graduated, and are considering a career as an orchestral musician. 
Three times between November 2023 and May 2024, PES students will come to Belfast to join 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 in the orchestra, including one to one lessons with their mentor, develop skills in auditioning, orchestral section playing, and after specialist training with UO Animateur Jonathan Simmance, participate in the UO’s Learning and Community Engagement projects, as well as taking part in a variety of other opportunities aimed at developing them personally and professionally.  
The PES students will visit the Ulster Orchestra together as a cohort and each visit will include a group session for all students and their mentors, to provide collective support and encouragement throughout the Season.
Students are paid the full professional rate for their participation in performances. There is no charge to participate in the scheme and your flights and accommodation will be paid for by the Ulster Orchestra.

We're proud to be working in partnership with the Ulster Orchestra.  The Professional Experience Scheme is a unique opportunity to gain insight into the orchestra profession through a visceral and rewarding experience as led by a group of exceptional musicians and staff that really care. Black Lives in Music and the Ulster Orchestra are united in our passion to help develop a professional sector where everyone can belong.  If your skills match the requirements then the Professional Experience Scheme is your next step.
Roger Wilson, Director of Operations, Black Lives in Music 

The Application Process
There will be a two-step audition process. 
Step 1: Applicants should submit a video audition of an own-choice piece lasting no more than 5 minutes by 12 noon Friday 2 June 2023 (see further details in ‘How To Apply’). 
Step 2: Successfully shortlisted applicants will then be invited to a live audition on 5 September 2023 in Townsend Street Presbyterian Church, Belfast. 
The live audition will be informal and relaxed in nature and there will be an opportunity for feedback post-audition for all applicants. For this audition, you will be asked to prepare some music chosen by the panel of Ulster Orchestra musicians. 
  • Applicants must be aged 18 and over by 1 September 2023 and resident in the UK or Ireland 
  • Places are available for the standard orchestral string, woodwind, brass and percussion groups. We regret we are unable to offer placements for harp and piano.  
We particularly welcome applications from traditionally underrepresented communities.  
How to Apply

Applications have now closed for the 2023/24 Season. 

If you have any questions about the scheme, application process or would like further information, please contact our Orchestra Manager Ruth Millar at [email protected]


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