West of Scotland Schools Orchestra Trust

In Association with West of Scotland Schools and Local Authorities

The University of Strathclyde is a charitable body, registered in Scotland, charity no. SC015263

WSSO Trust is a charitable body, registered in Scotland, charity no. SCO29370

Chairman: Dr Allan Hewitt
General Manager: Derek Hart
Administrator: Samantha Parker

strathclyde university and wssologos

WSSO Trust was formed in 1996 by Professor Colin Suckling OBE and is a registered Scottish charity which provides professional training and performance opportunities for young people living in the west of Scotland.

The Trust is managed and administered by the University of Strathclyde on behalf of 12 partner local authorities of the former Strathclyde Region.

WSSO Partner Local Authorities

  • Argyll & Bute
  • East Ayrshire
  • East Dunbartonshire
  • East Renfrewshire
  • Glasgow
  • Inverclyde
  • North Ayrshire
  • North Lanarkshire
  • Renfrewshire
  • South Ayrshire
  • South Lanarkshire
  • West Dunbartonshire

The activities of the Trust are overseen by a Board of Trustees chaired by Dr. Allan Hewitt at the University of Strathclyde.

Dr Allan Hewitt took over as Chairman in August 2016 following the retirement of the WSSO founder and previous Chairman, Professor Colin Suckling OBE who retired after 20 years of service. The Board consists of representatives from each of the 12 local authorities, the University of Strathclyde and a representative from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Trust General Manager, Derek Hart, is responsible for the day to day running of the Trust’s affairs including overseeing the strategic direction of the Trust’s activities, organising the annual calendar of events, managing resources, publicity, staffing, fundraising and serving as the main point of contact for and communicating with stakeholders.

Office & Finance Manager, Samantha Parker, provides general administrative support in the WSSO Office, handles payments, calls and enquiries and maintains the WSSO Database.

Residential courses and activities for each ensemble are overseen by Course Directors who work in partnership with the Artistic Director and lead a team of professional tutors and House Staff.

WSSO Trust works regularly with a range of partners to provide additional high quality events and activities for members. These include; the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

The Trust currently provides professional training and performance opportunities to approximately 300 young people annually through participation in four instrumental ensembles;

Senior Ensembles

  • Symphony Orchestra
  • Concert Band

Training Ensembles

  • String Orchestra
  • Training Band

Each ensemble takes part in a season of activities which includes a taster day event, residential course and at least 1 large scale concert event, usually in Glasgow.

Additional activities are arranged each year and have recently included; a large Showcase Concert in Glasgow’s City Halls, school concerts, Concerto Competition, Leader Competition, Brass Masterclasses at the RCS, Side by Side events with the RSNO, performances at the RCS Open Day and concert tours to Italy & Austria.

As well as music training, a programme of team-building activities and social events are provided during the residential courses. Recent examples include; archery, croquet, Bhangra dancing, barbeques, bonfires, fireworks, ceilidhs, quizzes and talent shows.

  • Auditions are held for senior ensembles only. Ie Symphony Orchestra and Concert Band.
  • Audition letters are sent out at the beginning of November
  • The audition schedule runs during the 3rd & 4th week of November
  • Applicants on a string, woodwind or brass instrument are required to play a single piece (approximately 3 – 5 minutes) and undertake a sight-reading test
  • Percussionists are asked to prepare a short piece on xylophone and either snare drum or timpani and undertake a sight-reading test on their preferred choice of percussion instrument
  • All auditions are unaccompanied
  • All auditions are overseen by 2 panel members who are specialists in the category of instrument played. Ie. Brass, strings, woodwind or percussion.
  • Applicants are advised that in choosing what to play, they select something that best demonstrates their current level of ability.
  • WSSO Trust will attempt to accommodate requests for a change of time or day but this may not always be possible.
  • A copy of the audition schedule is made available to view from November on the WSSO Trust website at; www.wsso.org.uk/events

Applications can be made annually from the beginning of August. Application packs are sent to secondary schools across the west of Scotland and via email to tutors and Instrumental Heads of Service. Most applications are now submitted via the WSSO website but can also be sent to the WSSO office at the University of Strathclyde.

The recommended level for applicants is as follows;

Senior Ensembles
Symphony Orchestra (S2 – S6 / Playing level equivalent to approx. ABRSM Gd 6+)
Concert Band (S2 – S6 / Playing level equivalent to ABRSM Gd 6+)

Training Ensembles
String Orchestra (P7 – S4 / Playing level equivalent to approx. ABRSM Gd 3+)
Training Band (P7 – S4 / Playing level equivalent to approx. ABRSM Gd 3+)

Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) grades are for guidance only and are NOT compulsory. Please consult with your instrumental teacher before applying.  All applications must be accompanied by the instrumental teacher’s comments on performance level and general commitment. These can be emailed separately to; info@wsso.org.uk

Applicants for senior ensembles will be invited to attend an audition at the University of Strathclyde during November. No auditions are currently held for training ensemble membership.

All WSSO applicants are expected to support their school and local authority ensemble(s). Members must also be receipt of regular instrumental lessons.