All young musicians in the UK who play an orchestral instrument to the appropriate standard are welcome to apply to NCO.

You don’t need to go to a particular school or live in a particular area. Through fundraising, NCO is able to offer financial assistance with the costs of taking part to ensure that everyone who is offered a place is able to join in. Talent is all that you need!

To Join NCO you need to audition.  Everyone must audition for a place every year - even players who have already been in membership - which makes it fair, and allows NCO to maintain such high standards across its orchestras. 

When to audition

Auditions take place at over 30 venues around the UK each October/November. Some of the audition venues change yearly - further details are published when audition applications are being accepted. Bookings for auditions generally open at the end of June and close at the end of August. Audition places are available on a first come, first served basis, so you need to be quick with your applications!

To be able to audition, you need to be 13 years old or under on 1 September in the year you apply. We do not specify grades required, but do provide indication of NCO’s current standards by age and instrument which are a helpful guide. More information about eligibility is here.

We aim to make your audition a really relaxed and fun experience. There is no need to be nervous!

Late Auditions

Occasionally we have vacancies for certain instruments at other times of the year. Please contact us for more information.

My time with the NCO was such an influential and formative experience. At the age of eight I was learning the value and importance of collaboration with other musicians as well as gaining an insight into the world of orchestral training. Experiencing the huge orchestral sound gave me confidence in my own playing and a new level of excitement about classical music and the experience of performing it, and knowing that the NCO continues to do that for other young musicians year after year is truly exciting!

Nicola Benedetti, NCO Alumni