The Orchestra

Camden Symphony Orchestra has been a mainstay of musical life in north London for more than forty years with around seventy regular players. Under our Musical Director Levon Parikian, we seek to combine the familiar staples of the classical and romantic repertoire with less well-known and more challenging works. Founded as Camden Chamber Orchestra in 1980, we rebranded in 2013 to reflect better our size and repertoire. CSO rehearses on a weekly basis and performs three major orchestral concerts a year. We also have extensive experience of working with choirs and are actively interested in collaborating with other groups to perform wider repertoire.

Recent highlights have included symphonies by Dvořák, Rachmaninov, Vaughan Williams and Florence Price, Holst's The Planets, Strauss' Four Last Songs and Sibeilus' Finlandia. Our 'All That Jazz' concert included music by Gershwin and Shostakovich's Suite for Variety Stage Orchestra; our second Family Concert included Britten's The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra; and 'A Night at the Movies' featured scores from Captain Blood, Casaablanca, On the Waterfront and the Bond movies. Our world premiere performance of Claire Victoria Roberts' Dream Big for Tomorrow, a piece for improvising vocalist and orchestra written especially for us, was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in 2023. Our first Family Concert in 2017 was a sell-out event featuring Paul Patterson's Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs (based on Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes) narrated by Rosamund Pike, In July 2016 we performed Laura Rossi's score for The Battle of the Somme accompanying a screening of the 1916 IWM film as part of the Somme100 Film Project. We're proud to work with top soloists, with highlights in the past few years including Brahms' Violin Concerto, Gershwin's Piano Concerto, Elgar's Cello Concerto and Strauss' Horn Concerto No. 1. The orchestra has performed a number of operas, including Cosi Fan Tutte, Don GiovanniFidelio and Il Trovotore. We have performed a wide range of the major choral works including Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem, Elgar's The Music Makers, Handel's Coronation Anthems, Haydn's The Creation, Mendelssohn's Hymn of Praise and Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony. Our conductors and soloists are top-rank professional musicians. Among instrumentalists with whom we have played are Joanna MacGregor, Douglas Cummings, Malcolm Messiter, Stephen Stirling and Christopher Cowie.

While the orchestra prides itself on its friendly, inclusive environment – socialising at the pub after rehearsals is a weekly event - we take our music-making seriously. Recent concert venues have included Cadogan Hall, Christ Church Spitalfields, St John's Smith Square, St Paul's Church, Covent Garden, St Cyprian's Church, Glentworth Street and St John's Church, Waterloo.

The orchestra was founded in September 1980 as Camden Chamber Orchestra, and was originally an evening class run by the Camden Institute for Adult Education. When local government funding for evening classes ceased, the orchestra became an independent, self-financed organisation and we have continued on this basis ever since. We have been a registered charity since 2000.

As a member-led organisation, everyone is encouraged to get involved behind the scenes with the many tasks that are essential for the smooth running of the orchestra. The running of the orchestra is overseen by a committee, elected every year at our AGM.

Current Committee Members:
Chair - James Taylor
Treasurer - Marion Fleming
Secretary - David Robson
Librarian - Susie Bokor
Membership Secretary - Jane Brett-Jones
Stage Manager - John Isaacs
Making Music Rep - Amanda Lockhart Knight
Publicity - Antje Saunders
Social Media - Kirk Robinson
Box Office Manager - Richard Campkin
Musical Director - Levon Parikian (Ex-Officio)
Leader - John Crawford (Ex-Officio)