The Guildford Symphony Orchestra is the borough’s premier community orchestra, and 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.

Our 100th year celebration started with a stirring concert of great Russian Masterpieces at our home venue of G-Live in Guildford. On 24th March we were honored to perform at St John’s Smith Square in London. This concert of all-British music included Elgar’s 1st Symphony.

The celebrations continue on Saturday 18th May at G-Live Guildford with ‘SPACE – the Final Frontier’.  Join us for this intergalactic treat! Full details below.

Now for a concert truly out of this world…….

Launching with Star Wars – arguably the most recognizable film music ever – we journey through a galaxy of space inspired music. Stirring marches, atmospheric melodies and some very familiar themes are the hallmark of this inspirational concert. The music of John Williams has a symphonic quality, which has established him as one of the most distinguished composers of his generation, producing music that is just as much at home in the concert hall as it is in Hollywood.  The evening concludes with the three of Gustav Holst’s famous Planet Suites, composed during the First World War. They were premiered in public by the London Symphony Orchestra in 1920, only one year after the founding of the Guildford Symphony Orchestra. Immediately popular from the outset they represent some of the most familiar and evocative pieces of music ever written by an English composer.

We are delighted to be joined by Hyun-gi Lee, winner of the 2012 BBC Young Musician Percussion category final who will be adding some additional magic to the evening.  Our Flight Commander for the night will be Darrell Davison – himself a Jedi Knight – and please be sure to book your seats in advance for this epic adventure, by clicking on the link below.

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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’.



From the moment the large yellow lion appeared blowing a trumpet to conduct Saint Saens’s Royal Lion March, the sell-out audience for the GSO family concert was enthralled.

Huge teddy bears flanked the orchestra represented Elgar’s tame and wild bears, and Guildford Symphony Orchestra musical director Darrell Davison produced a succession of wonderful props to illustrate the music.
A swan and her cygnets dancing on the top of his head, a green inflatable crocodile snapping its teeth, a bumble bee whizzing around on a wire – they had the children roaring with laughter, joining in the rhythms and most importantly, enjoying and interpreting a programme of wonderfully evocative music.

The highlight of the concert at St Catherine’s beautiful purpose-built theatre cum concert hall on October 7 was the performance of the iconic children’s classic, Peter and the Wolf. Narrator David Leonard gave a brilliant rendition of the grumpy grandfather, the dopey duck and kept the audience on the edge of their seats.

Guildford Symphony Orchestra is just starting its Centenary Season – what an achievement! One of its key aims is to promote music and the enjoyment of music among young people. This concert did just that.