How to Join

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Entry to ULSO is by audition. Each year, both new and returning members have to audition by submitting a video. In specific circumstances, for example if you wish to be considered for leader or a principal role, there will be a second round, in-person audition.

All the information you need to prepare for your audition is laid out below but please don’t hesitate to Contact Us if you have any questions. When you're ready, sign up using the link below!

Entry to ULSO is by audition and is open to both students and recent graduates in the London area. To be considered, you need to have a minimum standard of ABRSM Grade 8 or equivalent.

I remember performing Mahler 5 with ULSO. Possibly the most iconic piece for a trumpet player - it was amazing to play it in such a supportive environment.
Jason Evans - Principal Trumpet, Philharmonia Orchestra
ULSO provided some of the most enjoyable and informative orchestral experience of my student days.
Alex McFarlane - Associate Principal Viola
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
ULSO provides performance experience which you may not get elsewhere at University or Conservatoire.
Alex McFarlane - Associate Principal Viola
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
ULSO is not only regular playing that you might not get at college in your first few years, but it’s also great socially - getting to meet other players that you might not meet elsewhere.
Finlay Bain - 4th Horn
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
I feel that the experiences I garnered from ULSO have helped me with my future professional career.
Alex McFarlane - Associate Principal Viola
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
ULSO helped me to learn how to play in a section and how to deal with certain aspects of playing - like if I happened to have duff chops on that day(!)
Finlay Bain - 4th Horn
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
The social experience was great and I still have lasting friendships from my time in ULSO.
Alex McFarlane - Associate Principal Viola
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

ULSO is a great place to meet like minded musicians, to learn great repertoire, and perform to an extremely high level.
Jason Evans - Principal Trumpet, Philharmonia Orchestra

Both new and returning members have to audition each year by submitting a video. In specific circumstances, for example if you wish to be considered for leader or a principal role, you may be invited for a second round, in-person audition. So that we can give everyone the best possible chance of a successful audition, please upload your video(s) by October 1st.

First Round - Video Auditions

You will be required to play:

  • a 5 minute prepared piece of your choice
  • a small selection of prepared orchestral excerpts
  • optional additional orchestral excerpts for any doubling instrument you would like to be considered for

Solo pieces are your own choice of repertoire for your instrument. These are an opportunity for you to showcase what you are capable of as a musician. The choice of repertoire is completely up to you and we want to hear both your musical expression and technical ability through these solo pieces. If you wish you may prefer to submit two, contrasting extracts so that the panel can get a full picture of who you are as a musician. However, panelists will only listen to the first 5 minutes of your video.

You do not need to play with piano accompaniment for your video submission, but you may do so if you wish.

Orchestral excerpts are an important part of your audition and we encourage you to prepare them carefully. You may want to do some research on the pieces and listen to some recordings. Extracts are chosen so that you can demonstrate your understanding of orchestral musicianship in demanding repertoire and in a musical context and are normally drawn from the repertoire in the season ahead.

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Second Round - Live, In-Person Auditions

If competition is strong, or if you would like to be considered for leader or a principal role, you may be invited for an in-person audition.

The audition will last no longer than 15 minutes and is unaccompanied. A warm-up room will be available 15 minutes before your audition time. Please note that we are unable to provide an accompanist and nor do we expect you to bring one.

You will be asked to play your prepared 5 minute piece (which can be the same as in the video audition).

Additional orchestral excerpts will be sent to you by email approximately two weeks before your in-person audition.

When creating your videos, you do not have to record everything in one take. You can edit together each element, or you can send them over separately. Please remember to label your files as outlined below.

Videos should be presented in their original form and not enhanced in any way. Please only use the internal microphone on your device.

Whilst you undoubtedly look and sound fantastic, please record your videos at the lowest available resolution to help reduce file sizes, which should be no more than 100MB. 480dpi or 720dpi is more than sufficient.

Please ensure you are clearly visible in the middle of the camera frame. Try to arrange the camera angle and the lighting so that we can see both you and your instrument. For string players, make sure we can see as much of the fingerboard and bow as possible. Wind and brass players should be careful that the body of the instrument doesn’t obscure the view of your embouchure.

Once you have recorded your videos please save them in the following format:

First name-SURNAME–Instrument–Video Description (ie Complete, Solo, Excerpt1, etc.).

For example:

  • Joe-BLOGGS-Trumpet-solo.mov
  • Jane-DOE-Violin-excerpt2.mp4

If you have recorded your videos on a phone and are struggling to rename the files, it is often easier to email it to yourself, rename it on a computer and submit it from there.

Please put all your videos into one folder and upload the entire folder. Label the folder with your name and instrument.

For example:

  • Joe-BLOGGS-Trumpet

The upload link will be emailed to you after you have submitted your application form. Uploading may take a while depending on file size, so we would advise being connected to Wi-Fi while you do this. Please keep file sizes below 100MB.

Attendance is required for all rehearsals. In the event of an unavoidable absence, such as conservatoire projects, deps are required from wind, brass, percussion and principal desks of strings.

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You must also notify the Orchestral Manager via orchestral.manager@ulso.co.uk. By joining ULSO, members agree to adhere to our depping policy.

The membership fee for the 2021/22 season is £45 and details of how to pay will be emailed to you if you are successful in your audition.

Following the closure of the University of London Union, ULSO is entirely self-funded and your membership fees are crucial in helping to cover the cost of running the orchestra.

Do get in touch if you have missed the application deadline and would still like to audition, as we always try to accommodate all applicants!

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Mid-year entry may also be possible and will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Please contact the Orchestral Manager via orchestral.manager@ulso.co.uk

Do prepare your extracts thoroughly - not just your piece - as they are arguably the most important part of your audition. The panel are looking for:

  • Rhythm
  • Intonation
  • Quality of sound
  • Style
  • Musicality

Try and enjoy yourself! Try and put the music first, that’s what is important!
Jason Evans - Principal Trumpet, Philharmonia Orchestra
Focus on the excerpts, as the panel is at least as interested in how well you have prepared these as in the playing you demonstrate in your solo piece.
Alex McFarlane - Associate Principal Viola, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

Really learn the orchestral excerpts - I always find they’re the most important part of an audition for an orchestral position.
Finlay Bain - 4th Horn
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Don’t forget the basics; simple elements of playing like dynamics and rhythm are instantly noticeable to the panel and demonstrate very clearly your level of preparation.
Alex McFarlane - Associate Principal Viola, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

Listen to several different recordings of the same excerpt just so you have an idea of different tempi and styles.
Finlay Bain - 4th Horn
Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

I find one of the most helpful ways of preparing is to record your audition and listen back during your practice.
Alex McFarlane - Associate Principal Viola, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra

Play something you enjoy, and play it convincingly! And if you don’t get in this year, try again next year!
Jason Evans - Principal Trumpet, Philharmonia Orchestra

It is highly recommended that you listen to recordings of the extracts you are preparing.

Still have questions?