Latest news

It’s time for Tom!

At ERSO we are so pleased to welcome our great friend Tom Hammond back as our guest conductor for our November “Firebird” choral concert.

It is always such a pleasure to work with Tom and we know that we’ll create a really special concert together with the talented young musicians at the Camden School for Girls.

ERSO and Tom in our May 2019 Nordic concert
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Tom and ERSO working with children from the Camden Sinfonia in March 2018


Bella performing with ERSO

That’s certainly what our appreciative audience thought at last night’s Mozart and Mendelssohn concert!

They clearly loved soloist Isabella Fleming’s beautifully sensitive and accomplished performance of Mozart’s 2nd Violin concerto.  Bella was a Finalist in the 2019 ERSO Soloist of the Year competition and we were so impressed by her performance in the Final that we just had to ask her to be our soloist.

A well deserved hug from leader John Crawford

The evening commenced with the striking Chavez arrangement of Buxtehude’s Chaconne and concluded with a stirring performance of Mendelssohn’s Reformation Symphony.

We can’t wait to get started on rehearsals for the next concert which includes Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite.

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What a prize!

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Last year’s winner Henry Hargreaves with ERSO

Did you know that the winner of ERSO’s 2020 Soloist of the Year competition will have twice the prize this year?


They’ll have the chance to perform the concerto of their choice as our soloist in the June Waterloo Festival Concert

AND they will also be our soloist in ERSO’s big 90th Birthday concert in spring 2021, playing a new piece that will be commissioned for them by the winner of the ERSO emerging composers’ competition: “A Fanfare for Ernest Read”

Interested?  To be eligible players need to take part in one ERSO concert (including rehearsals).  We are looking for for a few more experienced string players for our November 24th concert which has a great programme incuding Stravinsky’s Firebird.

Check out the November rehearsal dates on the Rehearsal schedule and the details about the 2020 ERSO soloist competition.   Get in touch on


Fancy a treat??

ERSO’s Mozart & Mendelssohn concert this coming Sunday (27th October) has amazing music, a fabulously talented soloist Bella Fleming PLUS the chance to win over £400 of luxury chocolate from ethical producer MIA.

And tickets are a hugely reasonable £10 in advance from We Got Tickets. And only £5 for children and students!  What are you waiting for??


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ERSO + CGS = a great evening of music!

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Ernest Read with pupils at Queenswood School

Ernest Read was passionate about spreading music as widely as possible to children and young people and put on his first concert for schools in 1929.   He developed an innovative format that many professional symphony orchestras still follow today, with short programmes, accessible introductions to the repertoire and audience participation.   The renowned Ernest Read Concerts for Children began in 1945 and sold out for over 50 years.

Today, we devote at least two concerts a year to working with Camden children.

We’re so excited to work with the talented young singers and players from Camden School for Girls in the November 24th “Firebird” Choral Concert at the beautiful church of St Martins at Gospel Oak.

ERSO and CGS November concert flyerThe concert will be a real treat and will include Stravinsky’s haunting Firebird Suite and Mussorgsky’s dramatic Night on a Bare Mountain, in which ERSO will be joined by the talented young orchesral musicians from the school.  The school’s fabuous chamber choir will perform Charpentier’s Messe de Minuit accompanied by ERSO and we’ll also be presenting some wonderful solo singers.

Entry to the concert is free with a retiring collection

Take our personailty test!

  1. You love classical music
  2. You enjoy a sweet treat
  3. You like to contribute to worthy causes
  4. You live in or near London

Then ERSO  have the perfect evening for you in our Mozart & Mendelssohn concert which includes a beautiful performance of Mozart’s 2nd Violin Concerto by one of the finalists from our 2019 ERSO Soloist of the Year competition, Bella Fleming.

We will also be raffling over £400 of delicious premium chocolate made by ethical producer MIA (Made in Africa) who provide opportunities and benefits to the communities who grow the cocoa and make the chocolate.  The first prize is 60 bars of delicious goodness – and tickets are only £1!

All proceeds will go towards our charitable work with children and emerging professional musicians during our big 90th birthday season.



“A prime example of what one inspired man can do”

Ernest Read’s obituary in The Times

October 9th marks the fifty-fourth anniversary of our founder Ernest Read’s death.

Having recovered from a mild heart attack earlier that year, Ernest Read was back to work reheasing and teaching.  He collapsed suddenly and died on October 9th – which was also the first Children’s Concert of the season.  Knowing what her husband would have wanted, Helen Read told no-one and went to the Festival Hall to make sure the event ran smoothly.

Once the sad news spread there were obituaries in papers such as the Times and the Musical Times.  Read was described by Yehudi Menuhin as:
“a prime example of what one inspired man can do with single hearted devotion decade after decade in awakening the passion for music in successive generations.”

The Musical Times said: “No one who played under him could fail to warm to his whole-hearted, eager devotion to music. “

Ernest Read held two major appointments: at the RAM 1914-59, and director of music at Queenswood Girls’ School for over 40 years.  The London Junior Orchestra (founded in 1926) and the London Senior Orchestra (which later became ERSO) gave amateurs a chance of orchestral experience, and young professionals a chance to learn the repertory. In 1944 he launched the first school holiday orchestra and he was famous for his children’s concerts.  He knew that the length, content and style of a concert needed to reflect the audience and developed an innovative format that many professional symphony orchestras still follow today, with short programmes, accessible introductions to the repertoire and audience participation. 

Read lived to see his ideas for youth orchestras widely accepted and his ideals achieved and on the 30th birthday of the London Junior Orchestra he was awarded a CBE.