Although Covid-19 has made it necessary to change some of ERSO’s plans for the season, we are committed to holding our annual soloist competition. It’s a key part of our year and we love hearing the amazing contestants at audition and working with the four finalists in a half say rehearsal. Choosing the winner is always really hard, but once that’s done then we have a great time working with the winner in rehearsal and performance.

Check out the rules and how to apply at Entering ERSO’s 2021 Soloist of the Year Competition

Our first winner Callie Brennan, who gave a bravura performance of the Walton Violin Concerto said in 2018: “Having had the opportunity to perform with ERSO and Peter Stark was without a doubt one of the most fulfilling and rewarding performance experiences of my career thus far. The ERSO players are enthusiastic and extremely dedicated, they provided an ideal environment for a young soloist like me to feel comfortable and supported on stage. Having the chance to work with someone like Peter Stark is difficult to come by, and I am so thankful to the ERSO for giving me that opportunity to learn and perform. I think this competition is an amazing chance for musicians to expand their musical perspective and enhance their learning. I will cherish my performance with ERSO for years to come!”

Callie Brennan with ERSO and Conductor Emeritus Peter Stark

She was followed by Henry Hargreaves, who gave a beautiful performance of the Schumman Cello Concerto, and said: “Having the opportunity to perform the Schumann Concerto with the ERSO was an amazing experience. Taking a piece which I love so much and having the chance to play it with full orchestra in the final was a treat, let alone the concert at Waterloo Festival.  I learnt a lot in the rehearsal process from both Chris and the orchestra and this has helped me to take my phrasing, projection and rhythm to a much more detailed level in the piece. The competition was fantastically organised and I feel honoured to have had the chance to participate! Thank you ERSO“.

Henry Hargreaves with ERSO in June 2019

We’re so excited that we’ll be working with our 2020 winner, Grady Hassan, this summer. “I am so excited to be performing the Vaughan Williams Tuba Concerto with the Ernest Read Symphony Orchestra. I chose this piece as it beautifully showcases some of the lesser heard qualities that the tuba has to offer. With its virtuosic cadezas, lyrical passages and playful gestures, Vaughan William’s tuba concerto is really something special. I can’t wait!”

Grady Hassan