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Inspired by Ernest Read!

ERSO’s founder Ernest Read was hugely respected for his work with children and young professional musicians and we are proud to carry on his legacy.

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ERSO and the Camden Training Orchestra in NOvember 2018

Last year we worked with over 100 children in Camden in two specially designed concerts.  We work with the Camden Music Service and the Camden School for Girls to support the musical journeys of Camden children by offering the opportunity to perform in concerts with ERSO, which helps to inspire and encourage the children to continue with their music-making.

Our ERSO Talent programme aims to provide valuable opportunities to young professional musicians to help them bridge the gape between training and a professional career.  Our ERSO Soloist of the Year competition gave talented soloists the chance to compete to perform a concerto with ERSO.

final poster ERSO SOLOIST OF THE YEAR-page-001Winner Henry Hargreaves stunned us with his fabulous performance of Schumann’s Cello Concerto and finalists Bella Fleming  and Joe Yang will have the chance to perform as soloists this coming season.  And our great team of section leaders  Penny JamesLucy Haggerwood-Bullen, Henry and new Brass Leader Grady Hassan help to deliver ERSO’s educational projects whilst gaining valuable experience of leading and managing their sections.

2021 will mark the orchestra’s 90th birthday and we have big plans to celebrate the orchestra’s incredible history and Ernest Read’s massive contribution to music education.  Help us to celebrate ERSO’s incredible history by supporting our 90th Birthday Fundraising Campaign which kicks off with intrepid Team ERSO taking on the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 in August 2019.  Any money raised will be used towards our work with children and young professional musicians in our 90th Birthday Gala concert.

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Could it be YOU?

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Henry and ERSO in June 2019

Fancy following on from this year’s ace winner of our ERSO Soloist of the year competition Henry Hargreaves?

Would you like to win the chance to perform a concerto with ERSO in front of a packed audience at the 2020 Waterloo Festival, conducted by Chris Stark?

Fancy having a solo piece created especially for you by the winner of our ERSO emerging composers’ competition?  And being our soloist in our 90thBirthday Gala concert at the prestigious Duke’s Hall at the Royal Academy of Music in 2021?

If the answers are YES, YES, YES and YES then check out our ERSO Soloist of the Year 2020 competition!  Entry is free and the competition is open to players of all orchestral instruments who do at least one concert (plus rehearsals) in our 2019/20 season.

Greetings Grady! – our new Brass Leader

We are delighted to welcome tuba player Grady Hassan as ERSO’s new Brass Section Leader.

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Jonathan Newby

Talented tuba player Grady is taking over from ERSO’s current Brass Leader Jonathan Newby. Jonathan is stepping down after 2 great years of helping us to build up our fabulous ERSO brass section.  But don’t worry – we’ll still see him as our Principal Trumpet!

Grady Hassan

Grady graduated in Biological Sciences from Imperial College.  During his science studies Grady continued his musical development through tuition at the Royal College of Music as the recipient of the Ash Scholarship and Coldstream Guard Scholarship.  He is now a full time student at the RCM, studying the MPerf course, where he is in receipt of the Michael Quinn Award.

What a season!

What a season we’ve had at the Ernest Read Symphony Orchestra! It was our first with fab new Principal Conductor Christopher Stark and promises even greater things to come, as the music just kept on getting better.
Highlights included: amazing solo performances by Michael Stowe and Henry Hargreaves; 3 great symphonies – Dvorak 7, Shostakovich 6 and Mahler 1 and two hugely engaging concerts with children in Camden working with the Camden Training Orchestra and young singers and orchestral musicians at the Camden School for Girls.
We can’t wait till next season which looks promises to be very special. If you are a London-based grade 8+ musician and interested in being part of ERSO, please get in touch on  We are always especially keen to hear from string and brass players.2019-20 season announcement-page-002 (4)

A winning performance from Henry!

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Henry performing

Last night’s final concert of the season was truly special!  Soloist Henry Hargreaves, the winner of our 2019 ERSO Soloist of the Year

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Smiling Henry, proud of his amazing performance

competition, gave an incredibly poised and characterful performance of the Schumann Cello Concerto.  At ERSO we are so proud of Henry who is also our fabulous Principal Cello.


The audience clearly loved his playing and were highly appreciative and the the orchestra had a ball too!  We caught up with Henry and he said: “It was wonderful last night, thank you so much for the amazing opportunity to perform that incredible piece with orchestra. I enjoyed it very much and the rehearsal process was also very rewarding.”

The evening ended with a stirring performance of Mahler’s epic 1st Symphony, expertly conducted by Christopher Stark.

full orchestra mahler.JPGAt ERSO we were delighted to be a part of the Waterloo Festival and loved performing to such a packed and enthusiastic audience!


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……

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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.

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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

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