Concerto Competition

ULSO holds a concerto competition each year, open to its members and reserves. Winners have the opportunity to perform a concerto with ULSO in any future project.

2017/18 Season

Registration for the current season's competition is now open.

The competition will be held over two rounds of auditions in March. The final dates and times will be confirmed in due course.

Round One - Week Commencing 5th March

In Round One, applicants are expected to play the first movement of a concerto lasting no longer than 10 minutes. Successful candidates will progress to Round Two.

Round Two - Week Commencing 12th March

In Round Two, in which the Music Director will be present, candidates will present selected passages from ALL movements of their concerto, totalling no more than 25 minutes. The panel may also ask to hear selected passages, so be prepared to play any part of your concerto.

For all rounds:

The competition is held over two rounds of auditions.

In Round One, applicants are expected to play the first movement of a concerto lasting no longer than 10 minutes. Successful candidates will progress to Round Two.

In Round Two, in which the Music Director will be present, and will ask candidates to perform selected passages or movements from an entire concerto of their choosing. This can be the same concerto as or a different one from Round One

For all rounds:

  • You must bring a copy of the piano or orchestral score of the piece your are peforming for the panel
  • It is strongly recommended for you to perform with an accompanist. Unfortunately, ULSO will not be able to supply an accompanist.
  • The piece or concerto you choose to play in the competition can be the same or different from the one you eventually perform with ULSO.

The winners of the 2016/17 competition are:

Alex McFarlane Viola

Guildhall School of Music & Drama
Photo of Alex McFarlane

New Zealand violist Alexander McFarlane is currently studying with David Takeno towards an Artist Diploma at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. As a soloist, Alex has performed much of the viola concerto repertoire with orchestras including the King’s College London Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Youth Orchestra, the Nelson Symphony Orchestra and St Matthew’s Chamber Orchestra. In September 2015 he reached the final of the International Brahms Competition in Austria.

Alex is also an experienced chamber musician, having performed in venues including the Barbican Hall, the Wigmore Hall and St-Martin-in-the-Fields. As an orchestral player, Alex has performed side-by-side with the London Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Chamber Orchestra, he has worked with both of New Zealand’s professional orchestras, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, and has played as Principal Viola with a number of other orchestras including the University of London Symphony Orchestra, the Guildhall Symphony Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra of New Zealand.

Alex is grateful for support from the Hattori Foundation, the Countess of Munster Musical Trust and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Alex performed Walton's Viola Concerto with ULSO on 18 Nov 2017.

Angharad Thomas Bassoon

Royal Academy of Music
Photo of Angharad Thomas

Angharad Thomas graduated from her Masters degree at Royal Academy of Music with distinction, following her studies with Robin O’Neill, John Orford, Amy Harman and Fraser Gordon. Originally from Cardiff, Angharad began studying the bassoon at the Junior Department of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. As a young musician, she performed with the National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain and was principal bassoonist of the National Youth Orchestra of Wales. Reading Music at the University of Oxford, Angharad held both academic and instrumental scholarships at New College, and was an Ensemble ISIS instrumental scholar. She graduated from the University of Oxford in the summer of 2014 where she was awarded her degree with first class honours. Returning to New College, Angharad completed her Masters in Music with distinction in 2015.

As an orchestral musician, Angharad has recently performed with the Philharmonia, RPO, LPO, RSNO, Ulster Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia and Sinfonia Cymru. Angharad is also a keen soloist, and has performed the Mozart Bassoon Concerto in the Forbidden City Concert Hall, Beijing, New College Chapel, Oxford and Hoddinott Hall, Wales Millennium Centre. In 2016, Angharad was the winner of the John Fussell Award for Welsh Postgraduate Musicians, as well as being awarded the Gwynne Leyshon Prize and Very Highly Commended in the Florence Woodbridge Bassoon Prize. From 2016-2017, she was one of the Philharmonia Martin Musical Young Artists.

Alongside her career as an instrumentalist, educational work is also extremely important to Angharad. She has worked alongside the Philharmonia Educational Department, and with charities including Music for Open Ears and the Irene Taylor Trust, to support and lead creative learning and participation workshops and projects. Her wind quintet, Moriarty Winds, regularly perform outreach sessions in schools in and around London, and are one of this years Wigmore Hall Chamber Tots Ensembles. As an instrumental teacher, Angharad is the Visiting Teacher of Bassoon at Hampton Independent School for Boys and The Lady Eleanor Holles Independent School for Girls, and has tutored for Sistema England Young Leaders.

Angharad is very grateful to be supported in her studies by a Leverhulme Postgraduate Scholarship, Martin Musical Scholarship Fund, and the Countess of Munster Musical Trust.

Previous winners of the competition include: