The Woking Symphony Orchestra is one of Surrey’s leading orchestras. For over a century, the WSO has offered music lovers in Woking and beyond the opportunity to enjoy live performances of great orchestral music right on the doorstep.
We have over sixty members who meet weekly to play a rewarding and varied repertoire that combines classical favourites with the works of lesser known composers and twentieth century pieces. In 2012 we were proud to collaborate with composer Bernard Hughes as part of the Making Music ‘Adopt-a-Composer’ programme. Hughes’s orchestral piece Anaphora, written especially for the WSO, had its première in June of that year and was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in January 2013. You can listen to a BBC feature on Anaphora and to some of our other recent music here. We hope you enjoy it.
The WSO has long supported the musical development of young people. We perform three evening concerts a year and frequently feature promising young instrumentalists as concerto soloists. In 2013 BBC Young Musician Laura van der Heijden delighted a sell-out audience as our soloist for Dvorak’s Cello Concerto; and Woking Young Musician Matilda Lloyd gave an exciting performance of Arutiunian’s Trumpet Concerto. We also stage an afternoon Family Concert each January. These are enthusiastically received, especially as the children stay afterwards to have a go on the various instruments – percussion being particularly popular. Hopefully some of those children will become future members of the orchestra and will help maintain a musical tradition that has now existed in Woking for over one hundred years.
Making Music For Over One Hundred Years
In 1897 the Woking Orchestral Society was formed. Patrick White, the organist and conductor of Woodham Church Choir, was appointed as its Conductor and the inaugural concert was held on 28th April. This was a great success despite parts of the performance being masked by the sound of passing trains! Over the next thirty years, under Patrick White’s conductorship, the Society became firmly established.
Notable composers have been associated with the orchestra; these include Elgar and Vaughan Williams. Elgar visited Woking in March 1920 to conduct a programme of his own works as one of four concerts in a series entitled ‘The Woking Festival of British Composers’. Vaughan Williams was appointed President in 1944 and a number of his works were performed by the orchestra over the following years. Given these links, it was particularly appropriate that our special Centenary Concert, held in 1997 in aid of Woking Hospice, consisted of a programme of works by English composers.
The orchestra has prospered from the support and leadership of many talented conductors. Among the longest serving were Norman Askew, who worked with the orchestra in the 1930s and 40s, and Geoffrey Hartley, a noted bassoonist and cousin of Vaughan Williams, who took over in 1951 and conducted for the next twenty years. Geoffrey appointed Vaughan Williams – and then later Sir Colin Davis – as the orchestra’s Presidents. In 1972 the Orchestral Society was renamed the Woking Symphony Orchestra and in 1984 our current Conductor, Roy Stratford, was appointed. In 2013 Robin Ticciati, Music Director of the Glyndebourne Festival Opera and Roy’s former pupil, became our President.