County ensembles

County groups

We run a range of county-wide ensembles for pupils playing at advanced levels on their instrument. Players are typically of grade 6 standard and above, but the entry requirements for each group are slightly different.

The county groups offer students the highest level of performing opportunities with East Sussex Music, with performances at prestigious venues at home and abroad. County Groups have performed at the Royal Albert Hall and Royal Festival Hall in London as well as large venues in East Sussex. Recent tours have included France, the Czech Republic, Estonia and Finland.

When courses take place

Week-long (or longer) courses take place during our summer school in July. Some groups also have day-long weekend courses during term time.

Course costs

There is a charge for each individual course. Players from low income families (level 1 and 2) can get assistance with fees. Residential courses and tours have additional fees. These do not always offer our usual fee reductions for low income families, but we do everything we can to make sure everyone can take part.

Members usually attend every course but it is not essential. You may lose your place to another player if you do not keep up your membership.

Applying for membership

See details of who can apply in the information for each group.

You can apply for membership at any time, but we only hold auditions at certain times of the year.

You have to audition for the East Sussex Youth Orchestra. Other county groups operate differently, see their details.

County Groups Administrator:

Irene Shilling

01273 336787

East Sussex Brass Band

ESBB explores a large repertoire for brass band. The conductor is Marcus Plant, a brass teacher and Music Centre Leader with East Sussex Music. The group takes part in the annual East Sussex Music summer school. In the past it also:

  • toured Belgium in 2016, performing in Antwerp and at the St Salvators Cathedral, Bruges
  • twinned with the Staffordshire County Brass Band and the Brass Band de Normandie
  • took on a highly successful four-day tour of West Lothian in August 2008
  • took part in a stunning East Sussex festival of brass bands concert in March 2006
  • experienced guest conductors. These include Jim Davies, Major Peter Parkes, John Miller and, over the last ten years, Nigel Boddice MBE
  • performs a wide range of repertoire, from traditional brass band music to modern and exciting arrangements in a multitude of styles, and
  • regularly encourages it’s members to perform solos with the band as part of the Summer School concert

In addition, each year a number of ESBB members achieve places at the top UK Music Conservatoires and enter the music profession.

Who should apply?

Brass and percussion players at a minimum Grade 5 standard, can apply and request an audition. We automatically accept students who are already brass members of SDYO or HAYSO. We just need to receive an application form and approval by your teacher.

Apply now

East Sussex String Chamber Orchestra

East Sussex String Chamber Orchestra (ESSCO) is one of the county’s high level ensembles who play a demanding but interesting selection of music. Under the leadership of East Sussex Music staff and visiting tutors the orchestra focuses on a wide range of music from different countries and musical periods. Playing in ESSCO is not just about learning the music; you will also get to develop your bowing technique and tone blending which is not possible to do in a full orchestra.

ESSCO meets twice a year; a spring course spread over three Sundays, and a five day Summer School course.

Who should apply?

String players at a minimum Grade 6 standard. Entry is by audition unless students are already string members of SDYO or HAYSO.

Apply Now

East Sussex Wind Orchestra

The orchestra is offers its members the chance to enjoy playing with some of the county’s most talented young musicians. They experience the exhilarating wind orchestra repertoire from great composers such as Copland and Bernstein to Shostakovich and Holst.

Membership of ESWO represents one of the highest achievements in orchestra playing in East Sussex. Students:

  • develop playing and performing techniques from professional conductors and specialist tutors
  • have future opportunities to perform at prestigious venues
  • make lasting friendships playing with friends who share their passion.

Who should apply?

All brass, wind and percussion players are welcome. You will need to be at least grade 5 standard and in year 7 or above.

Apply now

The East Sussex Youth Wind Orchestra relaunched in 2018 after a break of over 10 years.

East Sussex Youth Orchestra

ESYO draws together the county’s most talented teenagers to share a great classical repertoire with energy and enthusiasm.

The intensive courses take place during the summer. A range of nationally and internationally acclaimed conductors direct the orchestra. Each season culminates in outstanding and inspiring performances in prestigious concert venues in Sussex and further afield.

Founded in 1979, ESYO offers members the opportunity to learn from professional tutors and from each other. It is not just about the music, it is about being a better team player, developing confidence, concentration and social skills.

ESYO has toured Europe; Belgium, Poland, Spain, France and the Netherlands. Most recently, we celebrated our 35th anniversary in Germany and the Czech Republic and will be touring Estonia and Finland for our 40th Anniversary in 2019. Closer to home we have performed at the Royal College of Music and the Royal Albert Hall.

Repertoire has included the:

  • Dvorak Cello Concerto,
  • Bruckner’s Symphony No.7
  • Stravinsky’s Firebird and Petrushka
  • Bernstein’s West Side Story
  • Sibelius Second Symphony
  • Rimsky- Korsakov’s Scheherazade
  • Beethoven’s Eroica symphony.

In recent years we developed a link between ESYO and the Royal National Lifeboat Institute, with concerts raising money for Lifeboat Appeals in London and the South coast.

Who should apply?

  • woodwind, brass and percussion players of minimum Grade 8 standard
  • string players of Grade 7 standard, aged 13 and above.

Entry is by audition after we receive your completed application form.

Apply now