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, 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 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 it 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 a 24 year old 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’.
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. With WYS, Daniel has conducted concerts with some of the most upcoming soloists of his generation, including Isata Kanneh-Mason, Laure Chan, Emily Hodkinson and Ashby Mayes, and they have also worked closely with some of the country’s most respected living composers, including Matthew Taylor and David Matthews. Daniel is also the Founder and Artistic Director of the Sinfonia Perdita, a new London-based young professionals orchestra devoted to performing masterworks that are overlooked by the standard repertoire. Daniel is also the Music Director for the Kew Sinfonia and Orpington Symphony Orchestra.

Daniel is thrilled to have just accepted an offer to study for a Masters in Conducting at the Royal College of Music, starting in September 2021. There, he will be taught by Toby Purser, Peter Stark and Howard Williams. He has also studied with Denise Ham and Rebecca Miller, and has received guidance from Ben Gernon, Jonathan Nott and Sir Antonio Pappano.

As a composer, for his final two years at the Junior Royal Academy of Music, 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), Northern Philharmonic Orchestra and in America by the Octava Chamber Orchestra.


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

Ashby Mayes – Chairman and Web Administrator

Georgie Proctor –  Publicity