Exeter Children's Orchestra


Exeter Youth Orchestra

EYO LogoThe Exeter Youth Orchestra is a subset of the Main Exeter Children’s Orchestra. Formally known as the Chamber Orchestra it comprises the older and more experienced members of the orchestra in a more balanced form than the all-inclusive ECO. Such membership may be 4 flutes, 2 oboes, 4 clarinets, 1 bass clarinet, 1 bassoon, 4 French horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, 1 tuba, 4 percussionists, 1 piano, 16 violins, 4 cellos and 4 bass. With such an arrangement of musicians the Youth Orchestra can squeeze into smaller venues and, comprising more advanced players, perform more challenging music than the full Orchestra.

Membership to the Youth Orchestra is on an invitation-basis with players being selected from the Children’s Orchestra. There is no hard-and-fast rule for getting into it. Players are selected on a case-by-case basis based on a mixture of ability, age, length of service and reliability. With so few members covering individual parts the orchestra suffers every time someone is absent.

When another player is needed for the Youth Orchestra the conductor will liaise with the principal musician of the section (flutes, clarinets, brass, violins, cellos, percussion) and with the section tutors. Finally he will invite the member to join the youth orchestra and notify the committee so that records can be updated.

Anyone may query whether or not their child can join EYO but the ultimate decision lies with the conductor who must consider the greater good.

New ECO Feeder Group

Exeter Children's Orchestra Junior Orchestra

Exeter Children's Orchestra Junior Orchestra is available to children between the age of 7 - 18 who have recently started to learn a standard orchestral instrument up to about Grade 2 standard. (Children will need to be able to read music).

The group is directed by ECO's Flute tutor; Laura Morris, who herself started at ECO in 1986 on the recorder!

Not only does it give new starters the opportunity to play as part of a group but teaches you to follow a conductor, listen to others, counting skills; disciplines you may not put into practice in an individual music lesson.

The aim of the group is to give the confidence to play and perform together and to then move up to ECO in the future. The group also joins the full orchestra for one or two pieces in each concert. 

The group meets every Saturday during term time, commencing 6 June 2015 at St Leonards Primary School in Exeter. 11am - 12pm. The cost will be £20 per term, 

Please contact Laura for further information at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Editor's Note: Next term you will be able to pay for these sessions via paypal from this page.


Exeter Children's Orchestra is a charity registered in England (no.801384). The orchestra is run by a committee of trustees and volunteers - all parents of orchestra members - who make sure that the organisation meets all the legal obligations of a registered charity. The committee also makes sure that the orchestra is a safe place for children to make music together.

People - music

The Director of Music is Robert Willis.

Robert selects, prepares, and arranges the music the orchestra plays, including requests from the members. Robert also conducts orchestral rehearsals and all our concerts.

The leader of ECO is Florence Rutherfoord Jones.

We also have a number of volunteer music tutors who help during our rehearsals.

Some of these volunteers are students.

Each section of the orchestra is led by a Principal, who is one of the more experienced members.

The Principals look after and distribute the orchestral parts, help new members to settle in and pass on the views of members to Richard and the orchestra's representative on the committee.

People - organisation

The orchestra depends on help from parents, led by the committee.

The committee is elected every year at the orchestra's Annual General Meeting in October and can have up to 13 members.

The committee members are also trustees of the charity.

The orchestra members also have a representative who attends committee meetings.

Running an orchestra of over 100 players is a big job - we always need help with supervising rehearsals, transporting instruments, fundraising, publicity, catering ... the list goes on!

We are very grateful that so many parents lend a hand when necessary.

Health and Safety

We take great care to make sure that the orchestra is a safe and happy activity for children and young people.

One of the committee members has special responsibility for health and safety and we carry out risk assessments for all our activities.

We always have adults who have had CRB disclosure checks supervising the orchestra.

We do not tolerate bullying.

Exeter Children's Orchestra recognised by The Queen with Prestigious Award

On 2nd June 2011, on the anniversary of The Queen’s coronation, it was announced that Exeter Children’s Orchestra was honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the MBE for volunteer groups.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to volunteer groups across the UK for outstanding work in their local communities.  It sets the national benchmark for excellence in volunteering, with the work of those awarded being judged to be of the highest standard.

Exeter Children’s Orchestra received the award for enabling children to enjoy the opportunity to play and perform music together, whatever their ability, both in the local community and abroad.

The Orchestra received a certificate signed by the Queen, and an exclusive commemorative crystal, presented by Devon’s Lord Lieutenant at.  Four volunteers from the organisation also represented the Orchestra at one of The Queen’s Royal Garden Parties in the summer of 2011.

Speaking of their success, Sarah Clarke, chair of Exeter Children’s Orchestra’s organising committee in 2011 said: “We are absolutely delighted to be awarded this prestigious honour in recognition of the work we do at Exeter Children’s Orchestra.  Our volunteers work very hard to ensure that the children enjoy playing and performing together, and their work is often unseen, so this award is well deserved by all those who are currently involved as well as those who have volunteered over the 41 years that the Orchestra has been in existence.”


The orchestra's funding comes from membership subscriptions, concert tickets and other fundraising activities such as concert catering and raffles. We also receive grants and donations from public bodies, trusts and other generous supporters.