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About us

Exeter Children's Orchestra (ECO) provides opportunities for young musicians in Exeter and beyond to play & perform,  developing musical talent and appreciation. We are inclusive and accessible for all young musicians aged 7-18 who can read music and who are learning to play an instrument. There are no entrance qualifications and no scary auditions just get in touch.

We have a regular membership of around 100, a constantly changing repertoire ranging from classical music to pop, and a busy schedule of concerts in Exeter and further afield. Twinning links have been established between ECO and young musicians in France, Germany, Russia and Poland, and many exchanges have taken place.

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Musical Director


Exeter Children’s Orchestra (ECO) was formed in 1970 originally as an educational project through

the Old St Luke’s Teacher Training College. Since then ECO has grown into a highly successful

organisation with a regular membership of around 100, a constantly changing repertoire ranging from

classical music to pop and jazz, and a busy schedule of concerts in Exeter and elsewhere. Twinning

links have been established between ECO and young musicians in France, Germany and Russia and

many exchanges have taken place.

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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.

Get In Touch
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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.



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.


In 2006 the celebrated American conductor Marin Alsop agreed to become one of ECO’s two Honorary Patrons.  From 2002 to 2008 Marin Alsop was Principal Conductor (and now has the title ‘Conductor Emeritus’) of our regional professional orchestra the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.  Born in New York City, she studied at Yale University and the Juilliard School, and her conducting career was launched when, in 1989, she was awarded the Koussevitzky Conducting Prize from the Tanglewood Music Center where she was a pupil of Leonard Bernstein.  In 2007 she became Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and in 2012 she was also appointed Music Director of the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra.  Marin Alsop has conducted many of the world’s greatest orchestras, including the Philadelphia, Cleveland, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Royal Concertgebouw, Orchestre de Paris, Bavarian and Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestras, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic and the Czech Philharmonic.  In this country she has a close relationship with the London Symphony and London Philharmonic Orchestras, and with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. She is also Artist in Residence at the Southbank Centre in London.  Marin Alsop has received many awards, such as the MacArthur Fellowship (given to US residents in recognition of exceptional creative work) and the Fellowship of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.  In September 2013 she was the first woman ever to conduct the Last Night of the Proms at London’s Royal Albert Hall.  

Following the death of ECO’s longstanding Patron Sir Colin Davis in April 2013, the present Principal Conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra Kirill Karabits accepted our invitation to succeed him as our Patron alongside Marin Alsop.  Born in the Ukraine in 1976, son of the composer Ivan Karabits, Kirill studied in Kiev, Vienna and Stuttgart before becoming Assistant Conductor of the celebrated Budapest Festival Orchestra.  He made two guest appearances conducting the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, after which the players unanimously voted for him to succeed Marin Alsop as Principal Conductor from 2008.  He also has a busy international career, working with orchestras in America, Holland, Germany and France, and with the major London orchestras.  He has recently conducted at Glyndebourne and at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre.  In 2012 he conducted the televised final of the BBC Young Musician of the Year, and in 2013 he received the Royal Philharmonic Society Conductor Award, the highest recognition for live classical music in the UK.

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Music Director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and São Paulo Symphony Orchestra.

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Principal Conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

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