Scottish Sinfonia

"Scotland's most exciting orchestra"

Conductor - Neil Mantle, MBE
Leader - Ruth Slater


Playing in Scottish Sinfonia

Scottish Sinfonia was founded in 1970 by its present conductor, Neil Mantle. It is a friendly amateur orchestra, which aims to play professional repertoire in a professional manner, and new members are made welcome.

How the orchestra operates


Sinfonia is a full-scale symphony orchestra, and our repertoire tends to reflect this. For instance, we have performed all the Mahler symphonies several times, and we have programmed most of the main works of Bruckner, Elgar and Strauss. We aim to cover as wide a range of periods and styles as possible.

Unlike other orchestras, Sinfonia does not do a regular weekly rehearsal; instead, it assembles about four or five weeks before each concert, rehearsing on Sunday afternoons (usually one rehearsal is for strings only), and all weekend on the concert weekend (3 sessions then concert). You are asked to miss not more than one of these.

Sinfonia in rehearsal

A detailed schedule is issued for each concert; a typical schedule would be:

* 1st rehearsal: Sunday, 2.30-5.45 - general play through
* 2nd rehearsal: Sunday, 2.30-5.45 - strings only
* 3rd rehearsal: Sunday, 2.30-5.45 - full orchestra
* Concert weekend: Saturday 10.00-1.00 and 2.30-5.30
* Sunday afternoon 2.00-5.00; then concert at 7.45.

A detailed rehearsal schedule for each concert is issued well in advance, usually during the rehearsals for the preceding concert.

Parts are generally available for individual practice in advance of the first play-through.

Playing strength

The orchestra is organised concert by concert, and it changes in size according to the programme, using precisely the instrumentation needed for each programme item. Thus, the number of people required depends on the particular programme.

String section
From our pool of local players, we aim for a playing strength of between 50 to 60 players.

Wind, Brass and Percussion sections
These sections are drawn from a fairly regular "core group" of players, augmented -- from concert to concert -- from quite a large pool of additional players. Being "on the list" does not mean that you will necessarily play in every concert: some symphonies require only two flutes, but some need five! We generally don't have vacancies as such for wind players, but Sinfonia does sometimes run short of players! If someone drops out suddenly, then the person who can do the most rehearsals at short notice might be the person who is asked to play! It is also helpful if wind players tell us whether they play and possess any of the regular "extra" instruments.

What we expect from players

We ask players not to miss more than one rehearsal for any concert. However, we know that people's availability changes from time to time. So, you don't have to commit to doing every concert (and this sometimes creates opportunities for new players).

There are none! Because the membership of Scottish Sinfonia changes from concert to concert, subscriptions are not appropriate. Apart from support from a few generous sponsors, Scottish Sinfonia is funded entirely from its own ticket sales. Therefore, we do ask the players in each concert to sell some tickets!

Experience and Playing Ability
It is useful to have some experience of playing our sort of repertoire, and you should be realistic about your own playing standard.


Strings: Normally, this is by an audition with the leader or the relevant section principal. Occsionally, a personal recommendation from a trusted existing member may suffice.

Wind: We mostly don't do formal auditions; usually, someone will hear you play somewhere, and recommend you. If you have previous experience at the right level, that will often get you "on the list". One of the section principals might then ask to meet you for an informal audition. Alternatively, you might receive a phone call asking you to deputise in one of our rehearsals, or to play in someone else's concert; all of these are useful "unofficial" audition strategies.

Contacting us (and us contacting you)
Although e-mail is useful, a contact phone number is essential. We tend to need an immediate "yes or no" if we need a substitute player urgently.
If you are interested in playing in Scottish Sinfonia, then please send an e-mail to the Scottish Sinfonia at
Please tell us something about your playing experience! You will receive an acknowledgement fairly quickly, and one of our volunteer organisers will then get in touch with you (it is very helpful if you include a phone number).
By the way, please give your e-mail a title that lets us know that it is about playing in Sinfonia; we get a lot of spam, and if your e-mail just says "Hi!" in the title, it might get accidentally filtered out.

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