GUILDFORD SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

FOUNDED IN 1919 AND CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF MUSIC MAKING

The Guildford Symphony Orchestra is the borough’s premier community orchestra – currently the only local orchestra offering a full, large-scale symphonic repertoire.

Since its foundation in 1919, the orchestra has attracted local musical talent across many generations and all walks of life. Doctors, teachers, lawyers, housewives, students, engineers, accountants and more. Everyone committed to playing great music to a consistently high standard.

It all started 100 years ago and in this Centenary year our celebrations feature a number of special concerts. On 24th March we were honored to perform a programme of all-British music at St John’s Smith Square in London. In November we are back in G-Live Guildford where we are delighted to be joined by Guildford Choral Society for a performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. 

We will also be holding our Annual Family Concert on Saturday 21st September at St Catherine’s School in Bramley, near Guildford. This relaxed event features a number of short musical delights and kicks off at 3.30 pm. 

Join us for our Centenary Concert on Saturday 16th November at G-Live Guildford  

Beethoven’s 9th symphony contains one of the most recognisable melodies in Classical Music – the ‘Ode to Joy’. This vocal theme appears in the Symphony’s final movement and is based on a poem written by the German poet Schiller. It established Beethoven as the first ever composer to use a choral element in a major symphony. In recent times the theme has been remixed and recycled for many different occasions,  but was most notably adopted as the national anthem of the European Union in 1972. Interestingly the 9th Symphony was a British commission, requested and funded by the Royal Philharmonic Society in 1822.  The UK premiere took place in London in 1825, although the first ever performance took place in Vienna a year earlier, with Beethoven (by then profoundly deaf) in attendance.  The fame of the final movement should not eclipse the brilliance of the three preceding movements, which represent the culmination of Beethoven’s creative journey in the final frenetic years of his life. 

The concert opens with Wagner’s jubilant ‘Mastersingers’ overture and also features Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and Handel’s popular anthem ‘Zadok  the Priest, composed for the coronation of King George II in 1727. 

We are delighted to be joined by the singers from Guildford Choral Society for this concert and are also privileged to have Joo Yeon Sir with us to perform the violin concerto.  She is an award winning violinist and composer, who studied at the Royal College of Music and – among many accolades –  was selected by St John’s Smith Square as their Young Artist in Residence in 2015.

This Centenary concert of uplifting music is likely to be very popular so please secure your tickets in advance by clicking on the link below or via the G-Live box office. We look forward to welcoming you to our 100th year celebration!                     

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THE 2019 GSO FAMILY CONCERT – 3.30 pm SATURDAY 21st SEPTEMBER

From the moment the large yellow lion appeared blowing a trumpet to conduct Saint Saens’s Royal Lion March, the sell-out audience  was enthralled. This was one of the memorable highlights from our 2018 Family Concert and we are delighted to be staging this popular family-orientated event again in 2019. The Guildford Symphony Orchestra is committed to promoting the enjoyment of music among young people and this concert is designed to be entertaining and accessible to children of all ages.

We are performing in the beautiful purpose-built Theatre and Concert Hall at St Catherine’s School in Bramley again, so please join us for this very special Concert that is guaranteed to be full of surprises! 

A DAY IN LONDON – PLUS A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE

The GSO performs in one of London’s premier venues to celebrate its centenary season

The Guildford Symphony Orchestra performed its spring concert Rhapsody and Fantasia at St John’s Smith Square on March 23 as part of its Centenary Season celebrations. And what a day it was!

Coaches from Guildford were laid on for the orchestra and some of our loyal audience members, as well as a van for the harp. Greensleeves would not be the same without a harp.

The rehearsal took place in the afternoon and coincided with the People’s Vote March, which gave the normally quiet residential streets around Westminster something of a carnival feel. Three hours of intensive rehearsals and then just a little time to grab some food and get ready for the Concert – red carnations at the ready.

It was a fabulous evening in one of London’s most atmospheric music venues. The orchestra was founded in 1919 by the dynamic Claud Powell, whose friends included a formidable array of famous English composers, musicians and conductors.  He was a terrific supporter of English music, so it is fitting that this concert featured works by three of the most revered names in British musical history, Elgar, Vaughan Williams, and Walton – all the more so because each of these superstars featured as a guest conductor of Guildford’s orchestra during its formative years.

So we we opened the proceedings with Walton’s rousing ‘Crown Imperial’ March. We were then joined by Alan Brown on the piano for John Rand’s Irish Rhapsody and Piano Concert No. 5, which provided a fitting contrast to the rest of the programme. We were privileged to have the composer join us on the stage at the end.

The climax of the evening was Elgar’s majestic First Symphony. We started rehearsing this back in the short dark days before Christmas and all the hard work we put into the character and detail really came together. It was enhanced by St John’s lovely acoustic (once we got used to it!). A number of audience members said it was the best they had ever heard the orchestra play and a seasoned Elgarian who had heard the piece over 100 times described it as ‘very good’.