Application FAQ's

How many places are/were available this year?

[2019] 3x Flutes (3rd dbl Picc), 2xOboes, 1xCor anglais, 3xClarinets (3rd dbl Bass), 2xBassoons, 1xContrabassoon

4xHorns, 3xTrumpets, 3xTrombones, 1xTuba, 3xPerc, 1xPiano/Cel, 1xHarp,

24xViolin, 8xViola, 8xCello, 3xBass

Why did I not get a place this year, when I've been before?

Applications are taken afresh and at face value every single year - indeed our panel only see anonymous application info, so it's an impartial decision

I'm Alumni, and I don't have a place this year, but I've been before?

It's nothing personal and we loved having you! And you'll always be USSO, even if you've just come once. But current students take priority over alumni, unless it's felt there is no-one with the right experience to take a particular seat.

How is my seat chosen?

Purely on the information you write in the application form. In some cases, e.g. for a leader position, there may be an audition, whereby an excerpt is set and the applicant returns a recording of themselves playing it. (BTW, if you haven't put down that you want to lead in your application form, you won't be asked!). The applications are anonymised and viewed by at least 3 people, including a specialist in that instrument family.

I'm in a different seating order relative to some of my uni chums, compared to our university orchestra. Why?

Two reasons - firstly the seating is done on your application (so it's important to make sure you add your experience to your application!). And then for strings, players are seated to ensure a full and strong sound throughout. So other than the front desks, whether you are front or back, firsts or seconds, in USSO it bears no relation to level of playing

Am I Violin 1 or Violin 2? And what about front desks?

Front desks are notified at point of acceptance (e.g. in November)

Violin 1 / Violin 2 lists get sent out when the music is available, usually a month before the course.

Full desking is posted on day 1 of the course.

What do you do with the details I provide during the application?

Please see our privacy policy here


Why are the sectionals sooo early?

We are really lucky to be able to get some of the best players in to tutor us. But they are busy people, and are likely to be working in the afternoons, so they need to be able to get to 2pm rehearsals. So, that means leaving at 1. And that means a 4 hour session starting at 9. Sorry!

(When in Scotland) Why is it in Gartmore?

There are only a couple of places in Scotland that are: remote enough to bring us together; close enough to Glasgow for tutors to make the trip; that can accomodate 90 people; that are licensed to serve alcohol; that have enough rehearsal rooms. Plus, we really like it there, it's so beautiful!

Can there be more free time?

It's a tough schedule to cover all the music in a couple of days - we can certainly add a day to the course part so it's less hectic, though this would add around £40 to the cost of the tour overall. This year (2018) we're introducing a free afternoon the day before the concert. Let us know what you think in the feedback form.

Why did I need to bring bed linen when it was all there?

Well, we don't know! Every year we opt not to pay for bed linen, and every year it magically appears. Bottom line is, it's not an option we ask or pay for, so we say to bring some just in case.


(When going aboard to mainland Europe) Why do we go on the overnight ferry, and not fly?

There are some issues with flying - the low cost airlines might be cheap, but when you factor in that we have to move a few tons of equipment at the same time, and get it all there in time for the concert, the price rises again. And there are also penalties for name changes that are way more than the equivalent on the ferry.

(When going aboard) Why do we take an overnight ferry - surely the Dover one is cheaper?

The overnight ferry is much more preferable than driving all the way to Dover and sleeping on the coach. Believe us. We did that the first year...

Why is there no food organised once on the tour?

On the residential course, there is no choice, as there is simply no other option to eat so we include all meals in the overall cost. When we are away, there are lots of options, to suit every budget. So rather than organising meals for a set cost as part of the tour fee, people can individually decide how much to spend per meal.

Who does the publicity for the concerts abroad?

The tour company organises this, via a local agent in the area we are visiting. We do not know what the audience will be until the concert starts - we also don't charge for concerts when abroad