Latest news

ERSO’s history with cellos…

jacqueline du preDid you know we have some amazing cello stories in ERSO’s past?

Jacqueline du Pre gave her first performance of the Elgar Cello  Concerto with ERSO (known then as the London Senior Orchestra) back in December 1959 at the age of 13.

guy johnstonAnd another famous first was Guy Johnston’s earliest solo experience, playing the Lalo Cello Concerto with ERSO at the Royal Festival Hall.  Guy said: “I’ll never forget it – Thank you ERSO”

We’re proud to continue the tradition of offering solo opportunities to young musicians through our ERSO Soloist of the Year competition.  Will this year’s fabulously talented winner Henry Hargreaves follow in the footsteps of these famous cellists?

Come and hear him perform the Schumann on Sunday 16th June at our final concert of the season.henry hargreaves


It shouldn’t happen to a conductor……

dynamic pointing square
Chris in his normal setting

Normally the orchestral conductor’s job description involves musical activities such as picking repertoire and working with the orchestra to deliver a great performance.  Not so frequently asked is to cycle 100 miles on the Prudential RideLondon which includes some truly massive hills………

Lucky for ERSO that our Principal Conductor Christopher Stark is such a great sport and has volunteered to be one of the fab four who make up Team ERSO, alongside trumpeter Jonathan, oboist Dan and long-term supporter John.  They are undergoing this massive challenge to help raise money for ERSO’s charitable work in our big 90th birthday season, providing opportunities for Camden children and young professional musicians at the start of their careers.

cycling team1
Chris, John and Dan in cycling mode!

If you are able to help us at all, in any way, your contribution will mean so much to the orchestra and the young musicians we work with.  Click here to donate to our 90th birthday campaign

Go Team ERSO-page-001

Take our personality test…..

Is this you?

  1. You would die without Mahler
  2. You love a fabulously played cello concerto
  3. You enjoy a sweet treat
  4. You like to contribute to worthy causes
  5. You live in or near London

Then ERSO  have the perfect evening for you in the final concert of our season, with Mahler’s epic 1st Symphony plus a stunning performance of the Schumann Cello Concerto by our 2019 ERSO Soloist of the Year, Henry Hargreaves. 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, together with the money we raise from the epic 100 mile cycle ride that will be undertaken by Team ERSO (conductor Chris Stark,  trumpeter Jonathan, oboist Dan and long-term supporter John).



Next season at ERSO is going to be amazing – be a part of it!

The Ernest Read Symphony Orchestra (ERSO) is one of London’s leading and longest established amateur orchestras.  We’re a friendly group playing to a very high standard and perform 5 Sunday concerts a year with Sunday rehearsals in Camden.  We’re proud to work with Principal Conductor, Christopher Stark, best-known as co-founder and Musical Director of the RPS Award-winning Multi-Story Orchestra. Our professional leader, John Crawford, is a Professor at Trinity Laban, and young professionals lead the string sections.

2019-20 season announcement-pageAnyone who plays in at least once concert in the season, including the rehearsals, will be eligible to enter our ERSO Soloist of the Year competition.  The prize will be to play a concerto with ERSO in June 2020.

We are always keen to hear from experienced (grade 8+) string or brass players who might be interested in joining us.  Check us out on and  get in touch on

Nearly ninety!

90thThe Ernest Read Symphony Orchestra (ERSO) was founded in 1931 by Ernest Read, the pioneer in the development of music education and youth orchestras during the first half of the 20th century.

On Read’s 85th birthday William Cole wrote in the Musical Times: “It is hard to over-estimate the influence of Ernest Read on musical education and on professional and amateur musicians”.  He was also 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.”

Nearly 90 years on, the community of musicians who make up ERSO strives to continue Ernest Read’s legacy through our symphonic concerts, work with children and with emerging professional musicians.

Our 2020/21 season will mark the orchestra’s 90th birthday and we have big plans to celebrate the orchestra’s amazing history and Ernest Read’s contribution to music.  Watch this space to find out more…….

ernest read

Say “Hi” to Henry, our Soloist of the Year

henry1We caught up with Henry Hargreaves, our winner of the ERSO Soloist of the Year competition.  He will be playing the Schumann Cello Concerto in the 2018/19 season Grand Finale concert which is part of the prestigious Waterloo Festival.

What is your main occupation at the moment?

I am a 4th year undergraduate at the Royal Academy of Music, tutor at Youth Music Centre and principal cello with the amazing Ernest Read Symphony Orchestra!

What made you choose to play your instrument and how old were you when you started?

I was 6 when I started learning. My mum signed me up for cello lessons at my primary school as there were not many people playing the cello in the school at the time. I’m really lucky she did it- I wouldn’t be where I am today if she hadn’t signed me up and if the opportunity to learn the cello hadn’t been available at my primary school.

What made you choose the concerto that your will be playing?

I chose the Schumann as it is the piece that really made me want to pursue cello playing. I love all the different emotions that the piece embraces, and the incredible journey it takes the listener on.

What do you feel you would gain from the experience of winning this competition and playing your concerto with ERSO and Chris Stark?

The opportunity to make great music with brilliant friends at the Ernest Read Orchestra- nothing can beat that!