Symphony Orchestra

Principal Conductor: Dan Watson

Professional string, woodwind and brass tutors

“Lovely to spend a week thinking about nothing but music. We have been challenged but supported to rise to the challenge”
2022 course member

Dan Watson – conductor

We welcome Dan Watson back as conductor for 2024. Dan has chosen a number of large scale works to stimulate and challenge each member, whilst we also build on our performance skills to deliver more familiar works. There is music for everybody, spanning over 120 years, and the programme is planned to make the most of all our players and to offer a challenge in a safe place to learn and try new things.

Players will work closely with our tutors in sectional rehearsals, whilst full rehearsals vary between works for the final concert and “discovery” sessions; a chance to work on new pieces under expert tutelage. The final concert’s programme will be chosen during the week, and is likely to include a selection of works and movements from the following:

  • Ethel Smyth…..Overture to the Wreckers
  • Shostakovich…..Festival Overture
  • Weber…..Der Freischütz
  • Khachaturian…..Masquerade Suite
  • Elgar…..Symphony No. 1


String and woodwind players from the two orchestras also get opportunities through the week to work with tutors on specific ensemble repertoire. String sessions are co-ordinated by Steve Bingham, and woodwind by Graham Dolby, and the ensembles get a chance to showcase their work in the Ensembles Concert. There will be specific programmed rehearsal sessions for Symphony Orchestra strings and Symphony Orchestra woodwind.

These sessions are tutor-led and will explore repertoire chosen to suit each ensemble. They also provide an opportunity to work on some of the specific skills needed to work as an instrumental section. Horns and brass players – not to be left out – have their own ensemble sessions and concert.

In addition to timetabled sessions, there are opportunities during the week to form ad hoc ensembles, and members are encouraged to bring sets of music for that purpose as these are not generally provided by the summer school. Members may also participate in the full range of optional activities, including with the choir and in the Members’ Concert.


Horns, trumpet, trombone and tuba players are part of the Brass Ensemble course, which has proved popular in keeping players busy throughout the week, and also provides the opportunity to play in both the Symphony Orchestra course and the Sinfonietta, providing an opportunity rare in music summer schools to experience a wide range of repertoire as well as professional tuition for each instrument. As with all players, there is the opportunity to partake in optional sessions such as Open Wind Band and Open Light Orchestra, and in the Members’ Concert.


One of the exceptional strengths of the NLMS Summer School is the high ratio of tutors to members.  Typically, one of the daily sessions is a “sectional” rehearsal:

  • Each string section in both orchestras, from first violins through to double basses, has a daily session with the professional who leads that section
  • Specialist tutors for each woodwind instrument will be present throughout the summer school.
  • Horn and brass players have their own specialist tutors for horn trumpet and trombone as part of the Brass Ensemble course.


This course is intended for instrumentalists of a standard equivalent to Grade 8 or higher, but applications from string players of a slightly lower standard who have good orchestral experience will be considered.