Student Orchestra takes up Easter residence in Nidderdale

28 March 2023

The Vacation Orchestra (VaCO) orchestra will take up residence at the newly-built Dallowgill Centre this Easter.

Now in its 29th year, VaCO, was founded and is conducted by local musician, Xenophon Kelsey, and it has featured at many venues around the Dales.

It brings together students from conservatoires and universities across the country, VaCO offers advanced young players the experience of a professional working environment, with intensive rehearsals and coaching. Past students have gone on to take up jobs with some of the country’s leading orchestras.

This Easter’s programme is varied and family-friendly and includes Dr Richard Shephard’s ‘The Selfish Dragon’, a work for chamber orchestra and narrator specially commissioned by VaCO, and the Dukas ‘Villanelle’ with horn soloist Benjamin Hartnell-Booth.

Benjamin recently graduated with a Masters in Performance from the Royal Academy of Music, receiving a special commendation for his final recital.

Since then he has been on trial with several orchestras including the RPO and Opera North. He has been a participant on VaCO course a number of times and the orchestra is delighted to welcome him back for this special solo role.

VaCO can be heard in Pateley Bridge, Sharow, Aysgarth and Skipton between 12 and 15 April, with a special afternoon chamber music concert in Airton on 15th. Tickets (Adults £12.50, Students £5 and under 18s FREE) are available via the orchestra website (, direct from Eventbrite and on the door.

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