Would YOU like to be our soloist?

Win the chance to perform a concerto with the Ernest Read Symphony Orchestra, one of London’s leading and longest established amateur orchestras plus a prize of £150. The winner will perform their chosen concerto with ERSO in front of a packed audience at our Waterloo Festival concert on 18th June 2023.

Four finalists will be selected to share an afternoon of rehearsal working on their chosen concerto with ERSO and will receive extensive feedback from the orchestra, our conductor Chris Stark and professional leader John Crawford.

Applications are open to anyone over 18 years of age, of any nationality, who has played in at least one ERSO concert (including attending rehearsals) in the 2022/3 season.   

All orchestral instruments are eligible other than piano.  

Check out the rules and how to apply at Entering ERSO’s 2023 Soloist of the Year Competition

The competition is a key part of our year and we love hearing the amazing contestants at audition and working with the four finalists in a half day 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.

Over the 4 years that the competition has been in existence, we have offered solo opportunities to all of these winners and finalists:

Winners and finalists who have gained solo opportunities with ERSO

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. 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

Our 2020 winner was talented tuba player, Grady Hassan who also had a special piece composed for him by Alex Papp, the winner of our composer competition. Grady performed the Vaughan Williams tuba concerto with ERSO in June 2021 and the new Papp piece “Flashes of Light in a Hall of Mirrors” at the Dukes Hall for our 90th Birthday concert.

Grady Hassan

Covid prevented us from holding a competition in 2021 and we were thrilled to be back in business with our 2022 competition. The winner was 25 year old Izabela Stocka who performed the Brahms Violin Concerto. “ Getting to play a concerto with a symphonic orchestra was definitely always a dream for me and having Chris Stark as a conductor of the project makes it only more remarkable.

Izabela Stocka and ERSO in June 2022