SEYSO is a Symphonic Orchestra for children/young adults which provides orchestral training for young musicians through a series of monthly workshops, three substantive annual courses and major public performances.

There is a large staff of specialist tutors and a team of experienced conductors. Members also benefit from the expertise of local, national and international guest directors, giving them access to an extensive range of musical genres featuring the great classics as well as modern and baroque works.

SEYSO collaborates with other youth and adult organisations, choral, dance and theatre groups, to provide a hugely broad range of musical genre and opportunities. We also work with local Cultural Development and Arts Councils to obtain discounts on other events not coordinated by ourselves.

As well as coaching in all aspects of orchestral musicianship, SEYSO offers advice on instrument care and maintenance, tuning and intonation, posture and deportment, practice techniques and careers in music.

There is a friendly and relaxed social atmosphere over a wide age range. (Over 18s can remain members as long as they are in further education.)

Our participants include an enormous age range of individuals in education from Primary to Higher Education. One of our unique attributes is the provision of orchestral training for students as young as 8 years, where the younger ones benefit from the participation of their older and more experienced role models. Across all ages, students acquire an understanding of the contribution of other individuals in the Organisation. We feel that this form of participation in a full symphony orchestra develops communication, presentation, teamwork and leadership skills, in a manner that few other groups can replicate.

Membership of SEYSO is open to orchestral instrumentalists from about grade 3.


For beginners up to about grade 3, an associated group SEYTO, meets at approximately the same times and usually on the same premises.

SEYTO shares the friendly and relaxed social atmosphere, offering beginners the opportunity to work and perform alongside SEYSO and make a natural progression up to it.

Further Details

If you need further details not on the website, please call the SEYSO message line, text or email :

Message line 1 : 01268 743069
Message line 2 : 01702 207912
Mobile : 07958 193390

Registered Charity
Number : 1057748

History of the Orchestra

Southend Youth Orchestra (SYO) was formed in 1968 by Roy Wales. In 1974, Gerald Usher became musical director. In the latter part of the 1970s, the orchestra was merged with the Southend Youth Choir. The 1980s saw courses and concerts in the Universities of York, Lancaster and Exeter and a highly successful series of tours to Western Europe. In 1991, the group changed its name to “South Essex Youth Symphony Orchestra” to more accurately reflect the area from which the players are drawn. In 1994, the orchestra ceased to be an Essex County Council group and was reconstituted as an independent body.

For details about current activities click here.

Orchestra Tours

Photos of Southend Youth Orchestra from 1970s and early 1980s.

Lugano Youth Hostel
Lugano webcam

About Brienz
Brienz Webcam
Steam Railway

Neerpelt European Music Festival

Stirling University

Wannsee Youth Hostel Berlin

Bingen Germany
Youth Hostel (click on picture to enlarge)

Prague Tourist Information
Information about Prague
Prague webcams
Pictures of Cochem

Vechta Germany

Glan Llyn Wales


Pictures of Bernese Oberland – 2


The Roy Wales Years

Historical note

Formed in June 1968, the orchestra gave its first public concert

in March 1969.

First performance in the Cliffs Pavilion 17th May 1970 – Malcolm

Stewart played the Bruch Concerto.


May 23rd – 30th 1970: France and Switzerland

Three concerts


May 29th – June 6th 1971: Channel Islands

Guernsey, Jersey and Sark, being the first symphony orchestra to give

a concert on the Island of Sark.


1st –8th September 1972:West Berlin.

Concerts on Terrace of Schloss Bellevue,

Bundesallee Concert Hall,

Forecourt of Tiergarten Town Hall

Accommodation in Youth Hostel by Lake Wannsee.

Flight Gatwick – Berlin Tegel

Cost: £30.

Historical note

May 18th 1972 “Music in Southend-on-Sea”. The orchestra took

part in a Southend Extravaganza in the Albert Hall, opening the concert

with the Karelia Overture by Sibelius

Concert with Sonors by Paul Patterson


Easter 1973: Salzburg

The Gerald Usher Years

Historical note

1974 Gerald Usher becomes Musical Director

The January Concert in the Cliffs was conducted by Kerry Camden, the

wind coach, who had taken the autumn 73 rehearsals in the absence of Roy



April 20th – 27th 1974: West Country Tour

Concerts in Dartmoor Prison,

Fowey School,

Devonport High School,

Bren Tor – Brass group performance on church tower, and TV appearance

by the orchestra, climbing the hill!

Accommodation in Abbotsfield Hall Youth Hostel, Tavistock

Travel by coach

Cost: £15


February 15th – 18th 1975: Tour to Wales

Concerts in Dolgellau (Ysgol y Gader),

Barmouth Church,

Theatr Ardudwy – Coleg Harlech

Accommodation first night in hotels and B&B’s in Dolgellau,

then in Glan Llyn, an outdoor pursuits centre on the shores of Bala Lake.

Cost: £10


April 3rd – 7th 1977 Second Welsh Tour

Concerts in Porthmadog

and Dolgellau.

Accommodation in private homes and B&B’s in Dolgellau.

Small contingent travelled by minibus overnight with Gerald. Rest followed

by coach.


July 31st – August 7th 1977: Vechta, West Germany

Concerts in Bremen – for pupils in a grammar school,

Lohne and Damme Schools – for pupils,

Public Concert in School Hall (Vechta Grammar School).

Accommodation with families of the Vechta Band

Travel by coach and ferry to Vlissingen.


July 22nd – 29th 1978: Scotland

Concerts in Stirling

and Usher Hall Edinburgh

Accommodation in halls of residence, Stirling University


Summer 1979: York


Summer 1980: Lancaster

Summer School under Arthur Davison

Accommodation in halls of residence, Lancaster University


Summer 1981: Switzerland


Summer 1982: Switzerland


Summer 1983: University of Exeter (Rolle College, Exmouth)


Summer 1984: Germany


Summer 1985: Holland and Germany


Summer 1986: Stirling University


Summer 1987: Switzerland Germany


Summer 1988: Switzerland Germany

Click for scanned programmes of concerts around
this time.


Summer 1989: Switzerland Germany Italy Austria


Summer 1990: Switzerland Germany

Historical note

Name change to SEYSO – “South Essex Youth Symphony Orchestra”.


Summer 1991: Switzerland Germany

Residential Course

Summer 1992: Residential course at Bryanston School


Summer 1993: Neerpelt European Music Festival


Summer 1996: Switzerland Germany Prague


Summer 1997: Isle of Wight


Summer 1998: Switzerland Germany Prague

Historical note

December 2003: Gerald’s 30th aniversary concert.

Historical note

December 2004: Gerald’s final concert as musical director.

The David Stanley Concert

Historical note

April 2005: David Stanley’s concert.

The Malcolm Hiscock Years

See recent events.