Milton Keynes City Orchestra

Milton Keynes City Orchestra gave its first performance under the baton of Principal Conductor, Hilary Davan Wetton, in February 1975. Over more than 30 years since, it has built a national and international reputation, becoming established as the live classical music resource for Milton Keynes and the surrounding area. It plays an important part in the cultural life of the city, engaging particularly with the education sector, the business community and acts as a valuable arts resource.

The Orchestra’s principal activities comprise a series of cornerstone concerts presented at Milton Keynes Theatre; family friendly programmes at Milton Keynes and Stantonbury Campus Theatres; and programmes of chamber music at Woburn Church. Members of the Orchestra regularly work within the community enabling people of all ages and experiences to participate and enjoy music and music-making through practical workshops, composition projects, family and schools concerts, coaching, orchestral training and other creative projects. The Orchestra frequently collaborates with the Danesborough Chorus and Milton Keynes Chorale; and smaller ensembles have regularly performed at Milton Keynes Hospital, the Open University and with Milton Keynes Community Foundation, as well as for many private Corporate events.

Whilst the Orchestra has been traditionally committed to Milton Keynes and its environs, it continues to work further afield –having performed, for example, in “Jersey’s First Proms”; with the City of London Choir at St John’s, Smith Square, London; with Hertford Choral Society; and as a part of the English Music Festival. Off-stage collaboration includes that with Creative Partnerships, Slough on an Education and Outreach initiative combining music with mobile phone technology, supported by BBC Radio 3’s Listen Up series. The Orchestra has also undertaken tours to the USA and France. It has released six recordings on the Unicorn-Kanchana and Hyperion labels. Hilary Davan Wetton and the Orchestra also performed in the Classic FM “Masterclass” series of introduced works.

This year’s Family Concert, ‘Creatures’, involved collaboration with the Milton Keynes Music Service, various schools, MK Gallery, Leon School and SNAP, in multiple media presentations in the Theatre foyer, the Gallery, and in the auditorium. We hope to repeat and expand this concept in the future.

Also, earlier this year the Orchestra was privileged to have been chosen to showcase the premiere of the Violin Concerto No 2 by the well-known contemporary composer, Hugh Wood who was present at the performance together with many luminaries of the music world. The work was performed by the violinist, Alexandra Wood and the Orchestra was conducted by Sian Edwards.

In September 2007, we were delighted to announce that Sian was to become Principal Conductor of the Orchestra, the baton being formally passed to her by Hilary Davan Wetton on his retirement. Hilary has given over 30 years of distinguished service to the formation, growth and popularity of the Orchestra, and has accepted the future role of Conductor Emeritus.

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