About Us

The Watford Youth Sinfonia is an energetic student-led youth orchestra, founded in 2014 by its conductor and artistic director, Daniel Hogan. The orchestra has grown from a small chamber orchestra to a wealth of 100 regular members, with the talented musicians coming from local youth orchestras, the junior and senior conservatoires, and venturing from universities all over the country to come and play. Ever since, its aim has been to perform works considered incredibly ambitious and brave – pieces which therefore its members may not have had the chance to perform before. In previous seasons, these have included Mahler’s 4th and 9th symphonies, and in the future include Shostakovich’s 10th and Stravinsky The Rite of Spring. The orchestra also has a commitment to performing less known repertoire, allowing the orchestra and audiences alike to discover unfamiliar composers such as Respighi, Nielsen, Coleridge Taylor and Roussel. WYS has already been lucky enough to work with some of the country’s most exciting young soloists, such as Laure Chan and Isata Kanneh-Mason, and is also dedicated to performing a range of new music, including premieres from the country’s most promising young composers. All these factors combined emphasise WYS’ position as one of the most innovative and exciting youth orchestras around.

Daniel Hogan: Conductor, Composer and Artistic Director

Daniel Hogan is 22 and an aspiring conductor who, as described by players in the Watford Youth Sinfonia, ‘draws emotion out of each individual player’ and ‘has a similar musical maturity to older, professional conductors’. He studied at the Junior Royal Academy of Music between 2011 and 2015, studying composition with Matthew Taylor, conducting with Rebecca Miller and piano with Eleanor Hodgkinson. As a composer, for his final two years there he was the winner of the Gareth Walters Composition Prize, for his ‘Sinfonietta’ and ‘Clarinet Concertino’ respectively, each receiving premieres at the Academy conducted by Matthew Taylor. His ‘Scherzo for Orchestra’ was also commissioned by the Junior Academy and premiered by the symphony orchestra. His first orchestral commission was when he was 14, receiving a premiere from the local Misbourne Symphony Orchestra, and since, his music has been played by the Aurora Orchestra (with a performance broadcast on BBC Radio 3) and in America by the Octava Chamber Orchestra. 
As a conductor, Daniel is the founder of the Watford Youth Sinfonia, a student-led orchestra who, since 2014 when he was 17, have been performing incredibly ambitious repertoire under his directorship, such as Mahler’s 9th symphony and Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. Daniel has also conducted a number of concerts with other orchestras, such as the Royal Holloway Chamber Orchestra (at the invitation of his teacher, Rebecca Miller), and is very active as a conductor at the University of York, where he is in his final year as an undergraduate. At York, Daniel was the first conductor in years to be allowed to conduct the University Symphony Orchestra, and has also been music director for productions of Ravel’s opera ‘L’enfant et les sortileges’ and Mozart’s ‘Abduction from the Seraglio’, as well as being elected to conduct the university’s Concert Orchestra, and he is also a regular conductor with the University’s New Music Ensemble, ‘Chimera’. Daniel has been offered a place at the London Conducting Academy for the next academic year where he looks forward to honing his technique. He will also continue studying with Rebecca Miller, his teacher from the Junior Academy, and is excited to be receiving guidance from internationally renowned conductors Ben Gernon and Sir Antonio Pappano, who are both major inspirations to him.


Charis Sykesud: Leader of the Watford Youth Sinfonia

Charis Sykesud began playing the violin at eight years old, having already discovered her love for music through learning the piano.  She studied at the Royal Academy of Music and at Watford Grammar School for Girls, with Susan Collier as her violin teacher and Winnie Wu as her piano teacher, before doing her undergraduate degree in Music at the University of York.  She continued at the university and, in September 2017, completed her Postgraduate Diploma in Performance Practice on the violin with Distinction, taught by William Leary.  As an undergraduate, Charis enjoyed exploring composition and performing in recitals, both on the violin and on the piano.  For her Diploma, she worked on solo repertoire by Beethoven, Janáček, Dvořák and Tchaikovsky.  She also loves to play in chamber ensembles and in orchestral works.

Charis has led the Hertfordshire County Youth Orchestra in repertoire such as Mahler’s Symphony No. 5 and the University of York’s Symphony Orchestra in Elgar’s Enigma Variations and Dvořák’s Symphony No. 7.  Her orchestral experience has taken her on tour to Berlin and Madrid and she hopes to have many more opportunities to travel as a musician.

Charis has been the leader of the Watford Youth Sinfonia since it was founded in 2014.  In March 2017, Charis performed Saint-Saëns’ Violin Concerto No. 3, and in July 2018, she performed Sarasate’s Carmen Fantasy.  The WYS accompanied her beautifully on both occasions.  Charis also leads the Misbourne Symphony Orchestra, with whom she will be performing Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending and Dvořák’s Violin Concerto in their forthcoming season.

Meet the Orchestra!

Meet the Orchestra!

The Watford Youth Sinfonia Committee:

Daniel Hogan – Artistic Director and Conductor

Charis Sykesud – Leader

Hannah Stephens – Librarian

Daisy May Stephens – Ordinary Member

Ashby Mayes – Chairman and Web Administrator

Kirsty Ryall –  Treasurer

Henrietta Cooke –  Secretary

Georgie Proctor –  Publicity

Robert Carpenter – Ordinary Member