Orchestra history

SMO clipping

How it all began. An extract from the "Reading Chronicle"

The orchestra began as an Adult Education Workshop in 1971 led by Raymond Jones. Numbers grew from an initial three to about 40 in 1980, at which time the orchestra decided to become independent. Present membership totals approximately 30 and we now belong to the National Federation of Music Societies. For a long period our rehearsals were held at Highdown school in Caversham; in 1990 we moved to the Meadway Centre in Tilehurst and in 1993 to our present location at the Beansheaf Community Centre near junction 12 on the M4.

The orchestra workshop weekends commenced in 1974 at Ufton Court before moving to Queen Annes school and finally to the Beansheaf Community Centre. Today we run an 'Orchestra Day', where we invite additional players to join us and spend a full day rehearsing one or two pieces, finishing with a full run-through.

During the orchestra's history the organisation was mainly in the capable hands of Raymond. However, at our 21st anniversary he handed over the administrative reins to a volunteer committee from the orchestra which meets three times a year with an AGM usually in September or October.

On 27 March 2004 Raymond retired and handed over leadership to John Tims as Principal Conductor and Steve Wellman as Assistant Conductor.

In 2008, after several years of happy collaboration between Steve and John as joint conductors - a period much enjoyed by orchestra members as the different styles of conducting and choice of music were much appreciated, our new conductor Tom Norris was appointed. Tom inspired and entertained us for the 2 years of his tenure. With both fresh challenges socially and professionally Tom was forced to resign and his conducting role is now being fufilled by Jerry Lanning.

Jerry is a highly experienced conductor and arranger, with hundreds of published works to his credit. A graduate of the Guildhall School of Music, he studied conducting with the legendary George Hurst.

For more details of Jerry's CV see our 'Who's who' page....

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