Here are answers to frequently asked questions about playing with SOL, but if you’d like to know or ask something that isn’t covered below do ask one of us or email: info@streetorchestra.co.uk. Return to Auditions Page.

Playing with SOL

It doesn’t cost anything to play with us for tours and projects. We either provide transport or will reimburse your travel costs from your local train station to wherever we’re meeting. All accommodation and food costs are included. 

All players are volunteers and although lots of players are students, we have players who work and fit things around our tours/projects.

Anyone over 18-years old can audition to be in SOL and take part in our work. If you are a Tier-4 Visa student you will need the permission of your college/uni to take part as involvement must be counted towards your college work (please contact us for specific guidance on this). 

Auditions happen a few months before tours and sometime we only advertise for the instruments we need. Our line-up is: strings, double woodwind plus 2 saxophones, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, 1 trombone, percussion & drum kit. We also have one bass player who doubles on electric bass. 

The standard is suitable to those studying music performance at higher-education level, or who have done so. However, this should not deter committed amateur players who do not have that educational background. 

See our audition page for current opportunities.

Tours are planned to coincide with school/college holidays, and as part of each tour there is a rehearsal period of several days. Currently there are two tours per year: winter and summer. These last between 6 and 10 days (in rehearsals days). Outside of these are shorter projects (generally over a weekend), and these happen sporadically 2 or 3 times per year.

Each tour day is different, but you can expect to play between 4 to 6 performances each day, usually between 10am and 10pm. Most of these will be 40-60mins, however some spontaneous performances might be shorter. There is no concert dress, just wear what you’d normally wear, or a SOL t-shirt if you own one.

Some performances will be public, some private; some will be indoors, some outdoors (but only ever in good weather); some are pre-arranged, some are spontaneous; some are very lively, some need sensitivity (e.g in hospitals, hospices, secure facilities etc.); some for large crowds, some for small. The variety is constant.

SOL only works when everyone helps set up and pack down. It’s a team effort and everyone plays a vital role before, during and after we play. However, you’ll only every be asked to contribute within your physical capabilities.

So as well as your instrument, you’ll need patience, flexibility and your sense of adventure!

During the rehearsal period there will be tutti rehearsals and sometimes tutor-led sectionals/group work. You can expect to play for around  6-7 hours per day. Where possible there will be try-outs of new material in public. Everyone is expected to have looked through the music in advance and memorised anything that’s been marked to be played from memory. Having one or more pieces that can be played without music and music stands is essential for flashmob opportunities and spontaneous performances.

Don’t forget to bring rosin, slide grease, mutes, spare strings, etc with you.

Music stands will be provided.

Wind players alternate between playing 1st and 2nd, and decided between themselves how they organise this; string players rotate position within their sections apart from principal players. The list of players and sections will be made available before the start of the tour/project.

SOL’s repertoire is very broad, taking in early baroque to newly commissioned pieces. As the orchestra’s line-up includes drum kit, bass guitar and a complete horn section (saxes, trumpets & trombone), SOL also covers pop music styles too (swing, big band, hip-hop, chart pop songs). 

Beyond the printed parts musicians get involved by taking solos, arranging music, taking lead vocals in songs, and introducing. 

Touring with SOL

SOL only meets for tours twice a year at the moment. If we’re going to be in your area, we’d love to talk to anyone and everyone that would like us to come and play.

If we’re not due to be in your area, or have recently been in your area, it may be possible to book us for a one-off performance, but please note that the associated costs would usually be in the thousands, not hundreds.

Absolutely! However if it’s not part of an existing tour/project please be aware the cost is always in the thousands, not in the hundreds. If you’d like to discuss an idea further, please get in touch: info@streetorchestra.co.uk

We are entirely self-sufficient. All we need a sufficient clear space (c. 8m wide x 6m deep), permission to play and an audience. Everything else we carry with us and all we leave behind is smiles 🙂 We may also ask for help with a drop-off point/parking for our coach. 

Each one is different. Mostly between 40-60 mins, however some spontaneous performances might be shorter. With most partners hosting us we agree in advance how long we’ll play for. 

Either side of the performance we require 10-15 mins to set up/pack down, refill our water bottles and find the nearest loo!

Currently we only tour in England due the restrictions of Arts Council England grants. We’d be more than happy to visit other countries, although Scotland now has its own street orchestra, The Nevis Ensemble.