Josh joins ERSO!

After our lengthy audition process where we saw some really excellent brass players, we are so excited to be able to welcome our new Brass Leader Josh Brierley. He is a hugely talented young trombonist studying at Guildhall and will be working with the ERSO committee and Principal Conductor Chris Stark to make our fabulous brass section even stronger.

Check him out at: Joshua Brierley – Brass Leader

Juri joins ERSO!

Our November 27th workshop with Camden children will be the very last concert for Principal 2nd Violin Lucy Haggerwood-Bullen. We’ll be so sad to say goodbye!

But we are also extremely excited to welcome our new Principal 2nd Violin Juri Uchishiba!

Juri is a London based violinist and graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She had her first orchestral experience at the age of 10, when she received the Leverhulme Trust scholarship from the National Children’s Orchestra and has enjoyed orchestral playing ever since. After graduating in 2017, she spent one year as a graduate assistant for the Guildhall Young Artists program where she engaged in regular CPD and has since moved on to teaching young students in schools around London. In addition to this, she also works as a session violinist for varying genres of music with her recent credits including ‘Pathways’ from Decca Records and Mabel’s ‘About Last Night’ from Polydor Records.

Back where we belong!

Being back at the newly transformed space at St John’s Waterloo was greatly appreciated by our players and our wonderfully warm audience. The evening opened with Assistant Conductor Olivia Tait expertly directing the orchestra in Grant Still’s Threnody in Memory of Jean Sibelius. Our soloist Ellen Baumring-Gledhill gave an amazing performance of the Elgar Cello Concerto and the evening concluded with Schubert’s “Great” C major symphony, prefaced by insightful commentary from conductor Chris Stark. All in all, a great evening!

If at first…..

The two main pieces in ERSO’s Welcome Back to Waterloo have something in common – both had a poor initial reception, even though they are now known as masterpieces.

Schubert completed his 9th Symphony in 1826, and as he was not able to pay for a performance, he sent it to Vienna’s Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde (Society of Friends of Music) – an amateur orchestra at the conservatory – who played it through but then put it aside as too long and difficult. It might have remained un-played had Schumann not discovered the score after Schubert’s death.

The first performance of Elgar’s Cello Concerto in 1919, conducted by Elgar, was also not a success. The conductor of the rest of the programme over-ran his part of the rehearsal schedule, and so Elgar and the performers did not have enough rehearsal time and the piece was poorly received. The work did not achieve wide popularity until the 1960s, when Jacqueline du Pre’s recording caught the public imagination.

Join us to hear these two amazing pieces on 30 October at St John’s Waterloo: Tickets and future concerts

Hello Ellen!

We’re so excited to work with fabulous soloist Ellen Baumring-Gledhill!

Ellen is a 20-year-old cellist from London. She was the only cellist to reach the Strings Category Final of BBC Young Musician 2020 and in the same year she won Junior Guildhall’s Lutine Prize, their most prestigious award, at the Milton Court Concert Hall competition final. 

She is currently a Scholar at the Royal Academy of Music, studying with Felix Schmidt and at the end of her first year she was awarded the Katie Thomas Memorial Prize and the Rhoda Butt Award for her achievement and contribution to the Academy.

She began learning the cello at the age of 5 with her uncle Dr Oliver Gledhill, continuing to study with him at Junior Guildhall as the D’Addario Strings Cello Scholar. During her time there, she was a prize winner in their Charlton House Young Artists Awards competition 2018, was chosen to represent Junior Guildhall at the London Cello Society’s Cello Power Event 2020 and at the end of her final year she was awarded the Principal’s Prize.

Other awards include the 2016 national Emunah Young Musician title as well as Most Promising String Player at Hatfield and Southend Music Festivals. She was a Gold Award winner at the New Talent British International Youth Music Competition in 2018 and 2020 and Senior Solo winner at the Spring Grove Music Festival in 2019.

Ellen has participated in masterclasses with Maria Kliegel in Germany (2018), Miklós Perenyi in Austria (2019), Phillipe Muller in France (2019), Gary Hoffman online in Ireland (2020) and Marc Coppey in France (2022). She was awarded a major Scholarship to take part in the Virtual Summer Cello Festival in 2020 and 2021 which included masterclasses with Colin Carr, Gary Hoffman, Marcy Rosen and Johannes Moser. In 2018 Ellen attended the Curtis Institute’s Young Artists Summer Program in Philadelphia, USA.

A keen chamber musician, Ellen is a member of the Regency String Quartet together with other undergraduate students from the Royal Academy of Music. After only one month of playing together, in October 2021 the quartet were selected by competition for The Frost Trust Advanced Specialist Strings Ensemble Training (A.S.S.E.T) and are coached and mentored by the Doric Quartet. In 2022 they gave recitals at the Royal Academy of Music, St James’s Piccadilly and as part of the Mill Hill Music Festival.

Ellen’s recent solo performances include a recital in Warwick playing Grieg and Schubert ‘Arpeggione’ Sonatas in September 2021 and the Elgar Cello Concerto with the North London Sinfonia in March 2022. Following this, Ellen was invited to play in a masterclass with Robert Cohen as part of a joint event between the Royal Academy of Music and the Elgar Society.

In November 2022, she will record and perform a piece written for solo cello as part of the Royal Academy of Music’s ‘200 Pieces’ Bicentenary Project and in March 2023 she will play the Lalo Concerto with the Junior Guildhall Symphony Orchestra at Milton Court.   

Grant Still

At the Ernest Read Symphony Orchestra we are committed to programming more music composed by female and BAME composers and we’re excited to be performing Grant Still’s Threnody in Memory of Jan Sibelius in our forthcoming concert.

Assistant conductor Olivia Tait tells us: “Grant Still was born in 1895 in Mississippi and grew up in Arkansas. He is primarily known for his first symphony ‘Afro-American Symphony’ which was the first time a complete score by an African-American composer was performed by a major orchestra, the Rochester Philharmonic, and this went on to be widely performed. During the 1960’s, when the Threnody was written, Still’s music was being performed internationally by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Symphony orchestra and the Tokyo Philharmonic orchestra. The Threnody in Memory of Jan Sibelius was written in 1965 to mark the centennial of Sibelius’s birth. Still’s Threnody is full of singing lament lines, and the occasional ‘bluesy’ harmonic language reflects his earlier music from the 1920’s which draws explicitly upon the tradition of the African-American spirituals.”

Find out more at: Classic FM

ERSO’s new assistant conductor!

We are delighted to introduce ERSO’s new Assistant Conductor Olivia Tait.

We have long wanted to revive the successful assistant conductor role that we had under Peter Stark (which notably included Andrew Gourlay went on to great things) and we are thrilled to be able to give this opportunity to a talented young female conductor. We are all very excited to work with Olivia!

Olivia is a London based conductor currently working as Conducting Fellow at St Martin-in-the-Fields, where she conducts weekly services with the choral scholars, concerts with the St Martin’s Voices and St Martin’s Chamber Ensemble and BBC Radio 3 Broadcasts. She recently graduated with Distinction from a master’s in choral conducting from the Royal Academy of Music, under the tuition of Patrick Russill where she was also winner of the Alan Kirby Prize.

Last year, Olivia was a participant of the Jette Parker Women Conductors scheme at the Royal Opera House, where she worked with the City of London Sinfonia, under the tuition of Alice Farnham, Sian Edwards and Jessica Cottis in conducting Verdi’s La Traviata. From this, she then went on to deputise as chorus master for Opera Holland Park’s production of Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen. Olivia also participated in the 2021 DIMA International Choral Conducting Competition, where she placed as a finalist and won the Gheorge Dima Special Prize. In 2020, she was also selected for the Genesis Sixteen Conducting Scholarship, where she received coaching from Harry Christophers and Eamonn Dougan in courses throughout the year. The choir have continued to form their own ensemble, Exodus, of which Olivia is now Musical Director, and she is also excited to be working with The Sixteen, assisting in conducting workshops this summer.

This summer, Olivia is also thrilled to have gained a place on the Dartington Summer School Conducting Course, where she will conduct the Dartington Festival Chamber Orchestra and she is incredibly excited to be joining the Ernest Read Symphony Orchestra team this year!

A very fond farewell!

Sunday’s Brahms concert saw the end of an ERSO era – we had to say a fond farewell to Princiapal Cello Henry Hargreaves and Deputy Leader Penny James. They have played a huge part in ERSO’s recent years and helping us keep the orchestra going through covid. We are really going to miss them both and we wish them well on what we know will be succesful musical careers!

Penny is now living in Scotland and is excited to be working with Live Music Now Scotland which gives outstanding young artists the opportunity of performing at the start of their careers and enables high-quality live music to reach people throughout our the Scottish communities, especially those who wouldn’t normally have access to it.

Henry is currently on trial for jobs at the London Symphony Orchestra, Ulster Symphony Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Welsh National Opera.

Penny and Henry with orchestra members after their final concert
First violins – with partial John Crawford
Penny with leader John Crawford
The last traditional ERSO “cellfie” with Henry

It’s Iza!

The Final of the 2022 ERSO Soloist of the Year was an amazing afternoon which saw us working with four hugely talented young soloists. The orchestra had a wonderful time playing with such impressive musicians and our decision to pick only one was the hardest yet.

We’re thrilled to announce that Izabela Stocka is our winner and will perform the epic Brahms Violin Concerto in our Beauty of Brahms concert.

Izabela is a 25 year old violinist who is a recent graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, where she was awarded Distinction during her Master of Arts studies, and currently works as a freelance orchestra, chamber and solo violinist. She was born in Poland to an artistic family and began the violin at 7. One of her earliest memory is of a small violin hanging on a wall in her room which she carried around the house like a toy when she was tiny.