The King’s College London Symphony Orchestra is the flagship ensemble of the Music Department at KCL, and over the past 15 years it has grown both in size and stature to make its mark on the capital’s music scene, emerging as one of the best student-led orchestras in the UK and attracting members from a variety of institutions across London as well as King’s College London itself. Based in the heart of Central London, on the famous street that is The Strand, the opportunity to perform in a variety of the capital’s historic and beautiful venues and make music alongside extremely talented student musicians has continued to inspire our members.
KCLSO has flourished under the batons of renowned conductors since it was founded. Beginning with Toby Purser (Principal Conductor, Orion Orchestra) the role of musical director then passed on to Robert Tuohy (Assistant Conductor, Orchestre National de Montpellier), Daniel Cohen (Principal Conductor, Jersey Chamber Orchestra) and then to Dominic Grier (Guest Conductor, The Royal Ballet and Opéra National de Lyon). In 2012, KCLSO was delighted to welcome Jonathan Lo as musical director, who continues to lead the orchestra to new levels of success.
Not only does KCLSO perform in our home city of London, we also represent our university and the best of student music making abroad on our international tours. Past destinations include Spain, Belgium, France, Germany and Luxembourg, where we have been met with great hospitality, enthusiasm (and standing ovations). Our most recent tour to the Loire Valley was a great success, featuring Hannah Littlechild with Kabalevsky's Violin Concerto, and we’re very much looking forward to our next adventure in Summer 2020!
Our unforgettable 2018-19 season began with our October concert featuring Shostakovich's famous 'Festive Overture' and Bruckner's Fourth Symphony under the baton of guest conductor George Jackson. The then Assistant Conductor, Stefan Cunningham, led the orchestra for the first Prokofiev Piano Concerto, featuring soloist Rhiana Henderson. In December, outgoing Assistant Conductor Stefan Cunningham once again lead the orchestra with another strong programme with Sibelius' First Symphony, as well as our very own Jonathan Lo conducting the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 with Sean Frost at the piano. Our two educational concerts in February were met with much praise and were a thoroughly enjoyable project for the young people and their families joining us in the Great Hall at King's that day. In what was equally a memorable day for the orchestra, our programme consisted of Prokofiev's 'Peter and the Wolf' and Britten's 'The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra', both of which were prodigiously narrated by King's own Thomas Howard. Following the great success of this concert, KCLSO will be organising another educational concert for their 2019-2020 season. Our last concert of the season saw our new Assistant Conductor, Dominic Blanchard, take the reins for Mozart's overture to 'Don Giovanni', as well as Musical Director Jonathan Lo conducting the Strauss Oboe Concerto, featuring soloist Luiz de Campos, and Dvořák's Eighth Symphony. Our 2019 summer tour to the Loire Valley saw the orchestra reprise the Dvořák, as well as performing the Kabalevsky Violin Concerto featuring our very own Hannah Littlechild, both under the baton of guest conductor Christopher Quentin. Assistant Conductor Dominic Blanchard led the orchestra for Ravel's 'Bolero' which was met with great delight by the French audiences. This coming year will also not disappoint, so please stay tuned for our upcoming concert dates and repertoire announcements; some big projects are coming your way very soon!
As well as providing valuable and varied orchestral experience, KCLSO holds an annual concerto competition. This provides the opportunity for some of our extremely gifted members, plus members of the King’s music department, to showcase their talent alongside the orchestra. This coming season the orchestra is pleased to invite winners Alex Dawkins to play the Khachaturian Violin Concerto, and Erchao Gu to perform the Britten Piano Concerto. Information of when you can hear these marvellous musicians play will be made available on this site very soon under the 'What's On' page.
As an orchestra, we pride ourselves on our work with young, emerging conductors. KCLSO offer the opportunity of an Assistant Conductor position to a KCL music student for a season, providing extremely valuable orchestral conducting experience with one-to-one coaching from our Musical Director, Jonathon Lo. Previous Assistant Conductors have gone on to undertake postgraduate conducting studies at institutions including the Royal Academy of Music and Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory. As well as this, we also take part in masterclasses as part of an orchestral conducting course run by Colin Metters at KCL, allowing several young conductors to have their first experience leading a full-scale symphony orchestra.