London Orchestra marks 140 years of music with spectacular concert in St John’s Smith Square Sunday 1 April

On Sunday 1 April at St John’s Smith Square, Westminster, the Royal Orchestral Society, the oldest orchestra of its kind in the country, will be performing for the 140th year running.

To celebrate entering their 140th year, the orchestra will be delivering an exciting performance featuring world renowned soloists and an ambitious repertoire. The programme features: Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with acclaimed Latvian soloist Kristine Balanas; Beethoven’s Overture Leonora No.1; and Mahler Symphony No.4, with soprano Alice Woodbridge.

[pullquote_right]The Royal Orchestral Society was founded in 1872 by Queen Victoria’s second son the Duke of Edinburgh, an enthusiastic violinist and the Society’s first President. At the time, it was one of only two symphony orchestras in the country, the other being the Royal Philharmonic Society.[/pullquote_right]

The orchestra’s first conductor was Sir Arthur Sullivan and shortly after Henry Wood took up the baton.  Esteemed musicians associated with the orchestra in the early years included “Fritz” Kreisler, Pablo Casals, Sir Edward Elgar and Dame Clara Butt.

Today the orchestra continues to attract elite soloists under the direction of celebrated conductor Orlando Jopling, who also regularly conducts the English Chamber Orchestra. Jopling has conducted such prestigious orchestras as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Schönbrunn Orchestra in Vienna. Recent soloists to have played with the Royal Orchestral Society include Kathryn Scott, Timothy Hugh and Piers Lane.

The Royal Orchestral Society’s conductor, Orlando Jopling, said:

“It is really wonderful conduct the Royal Orchestral Society in its 140th year. St John Smith’s Square is a breathtaking venue to perform in and to contemplate all the distinguished conductors and their orchestras who have played there before.

“It is great to see the amateur music scene is thriving in London and that we can still draw some of the most exciting, virtuoso solo talent from all over Europe and beyond to play with us.

“In a year when we will be hosting a cultural Olympics, I hope Londoners will come from far and wide to enjoy a classic London evening out listening to the cream of London’s talent. I am quietly confident that we can hold our own against our predecessors.”

The orchestra is compiled of talented amateur players, young and old, ranging from students to pensioners, from all over London.

The Royal Orchestral Society, which rehearses weekly in St John’s Wood, has held concerts in St John’s Smith Square, Westminster, for many years taking advantage its impressive acoustics.

Tickets are available from

The Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 35, written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1878, is one of the best known of all violin concertos. It is also considered to be among the most technically difficult works for violin.

Beethoven’s Overture Leonora No.1 comes from the only opera Beethoven wrote – Fidelio. He wrote four overtures for the work (the three Leonore overtures as well as the Fidelio overture). The Leonora No 1 is believed to have been scaled back for an 1808 performance of the opera in Prague.

The Symphony No. 4 by Gustav Mahler was written between 1899 and 1901, though it incorporates a song originally written in 1892. Mahler’s first four symphonies are often referred to as the “Wunderhorn” symphonies because many of their themes originate in earlier songs by Mahler on texts from Des Knaben Wunderhorn (The Youth’s Magic Horn). The fourth symphony is built around a single song, “Das himmlische Leben.” It is prefigured in various ways in the first three movements and sung in its entirety by a solo soprano in the fourth movement. The song, “Das himmlische Leben”, presents a child’s vision of Heaven.


Chris "MUG5" Maguire is a multimedia futurist that specializes in all things multimedia. From Record Production to Film Making Chris has worked with hi-end clients the world over. Chris is the Editor in Chief of both &