New term starts – 13 September 2018

We already have a few new players coming for the first time this term, so if anyone wants to give the orchestra a try, you wouldn’t be the only newcomer! You can come for two weeks’ free trial before you decide whether it’s a good fit for you. There’s no minimum standard – if you’re a complete beginner, you can start off with easy notes and learn as you go. You’d be learning just by sitting in, even if you didn’t play much at first.

This term, it’s £66 for the term, including membership fee and you’d like tea or coffee at the half-time break, add £3.25. If you’re keen but the money would be a stretch for you, please say so, and we’d keep that info confidential.

We’re at Padworth Village Hall for the rehearsals, same as last term. (Click that link for travel info.)

Do get in touch if you think you might be interested! and ask any questions not answered here! We’re a friendly bunch 🙂

New term starts Thursday 19 April 2018

The new term starts soon – Thursday 19 April. We’ve been getting music ready. As usual, it’ll be a variety of old and modern, fast and slow, with different musical challenges in the different pieces.

We already have a few new players coming for the first time this term, so if anyone wants to give the orchestra a try, you wouldn’t be the only newcomer! You can come for two weeks’ free trial before you decide whether it’s a good fit for you. There’s no minimum standard – if you’re a complete beginner, you can start off with easy notes and learn as you go. You’d be learning just by sitting in, even if you didn’t play much at first.

This term, it’s £60 for the term, or £63 if you’d like tea or coffee at the half-time break. If you’re keen but the money would be a stretch for you, please say so, and we’d keep that info confidential.

We’re at Padworth Village Hall for the rehearsals, same as last term. (Click that link for travel info.)

Do get in touch if you think you might be interested! and ask any questions not answered here! We’re a friendly bunch 🙂

Pic of violin, plus text: Da Capo / Adult learners' orchestra / Beginners welcome! / West Berkshire, England / Thursday evenings

Come and hear us on Thursday 29 March 2018

It’s nearly time for this term’s soirée! We’ll be in Thatcham, just off the A4, on the evening of Thursday 29 March.

If you’d like to be in the audience for our play-through of this term’s music, or just to find out more, please do get in touch.

Some people who join Da Capo haven’t yet learned to read music, and some have never yet played in a group before! It’s “learn as you go”.

We already know there will be at least a couple of new players starting after Easter… so if you were to join the orchestra then, or to try out whether it suits you for a couple of weeks’ free trial, you wouldn’t be the only newcomer.


Want a taster of what the orchestra sounds like? Here’s a short video from the end of the autumn term in 2017. The players had about 10 weeks to learn this piece of music. Beginners can be given simplified parts with only easy notes.

(or click through to watch the video at Vimeo)

A new addition to the web site

The end of term “soirée”, where we play through the pieces we’ve been learning during the term, usually also includes some solos or chamber music. (Only from people who want to!)

Occasionally it’s also included a song or a poem.

Very occasionally, it’s included a poem or song written by someone in the orchestra about being in the orchestra!

New to the web site, we can now reveal two of these wonderful items of creativity: Two poems in celebration of the orchestra 🙂

New conductor wanted for the autumn

After 20-odd years, our founder conductor Patsy Moore is retiring!

Conductor wanted! Reading/Newbury area. Blue writing on a faded background picture of a violin and a couple of pages of music.

We are looking for a cheerful, patient conductor, with clear conventional baton technique and a sense of humour, to take up the conducting role at Da Capo. This is a paid role.

You can read our advert on the Making Music site here, and request an info pack for more about the orchestra and the job. We’d like written applications by Wednesday 7 February 2018, and we’ll be auditioning people soon after that. (Yes, we are rather late blogging about this, though the advert itself has been up a while!)

Want a taster of what the orchestra sounds like? Here’s a video from our “soirée” back in December (orchestra conducted here by Ken Moore).

(or click through to watch the video at Vimeo)

New playing members are also welcome. There’s no minimum standard of musical level – you don’t even need to be able to read music yet, because you can learn as you go, and be given a very easy part to start off with.

New term September 2017

The web site has been quiet, but the orchestra is still thriving!

The end-of-term Soirée is likely to be Thursday 7 December 2017.  If lots of orchestra people can’t do that date, it may yet move to the following week.

The Soirée is where we play our music to “friendly eavesdroppers” (mostly friends and family).  We call it a Soirée because a concert sounds more formal and scary!

If you’re thinking you might like to join the orchestra, coming along to the Soirée is a great way to get a little sample of what we’ve been up to, and have a chat.  If you’d like to come along and listen, it’s free.  Please get in touch first and let us know, as space is limited.

Whether or not you’re free to come to the Soirée this term, you’re always welcome to get in touch for more information.

Looking towards Christmas already!

We’re already half way through the autumn term, and for once we’ve been playing music with a Christmas flavour from the start. Sometimes we have a completely secular autumn term, but not this year. My husband Ken, who shares the conducting these days, has orchestrated an abridged version of Gustav Holst’s choral medley called simply “Christmas Day”. As well as conventional orchestral instruments this term’s unusual line-up includes both alto and tenor saxes and the even more unusual alto and bass flutes.

Our Winter Soirée will be from 7.30-9.30 on Thursday December 1st in Thatcham (hall booked from 6.30). We call it a Soirée because a concert sounds more formal and scary!

If you’re thinking of joining the orchestra, now is a great time to get in touch, especially if you happen to be free on the evening of December 1st. You’d be very welcome to join our audience of “Friendly Eavesdroppers” to hear what the orchestra has been working on this term. It’s free to come along and listen at on that occasion. Space is limited, so you need to make contact beforehand if you would like to come.

There will be orchestral items by Johann Sebastian Bach, Gustav Holst and Hubert Waelrant, plus an arrangement by Max Bruch (best known for writing a very popular violin concerto) of a little German folk song with a Christmas theme – Lullaby of the Shepherds.

The rest of the evening’s programme consists of solos and chamber music items from current and ex-members of Da Capo and perhaps a few additional visiting performers. In the middle we have an interval, usually about 15 to 20 minutes, with free refreshments. There’s plenty of opportunity to chat to the players if you’d like to – either during the interval break, or before or after the music.

Whether or not you’re free to come to the Soirée you’re always welcome to get in touch for more information. Players enrol for one term at a time, and the Spring term will probably start on January 12th but that’s not definite yet.  It will be helpful to know before Christmas who to expect.

On the Thursday before Christmas, December 22nd, a group of players from the orchestra, again perhaps with a few ex-members, will be playing “seasonal” music in the foyer of the big Sainsbury’s store in Calcot, close to Junction 12 of the M4, between 7.00 and 9.30 p.m. For the third year we’ll be supporting a collection in aid of the Samaritans. If you find yourself with any last-minute shopping to do perhaps you’d like to come along and give us a wave. 🙂 (Sainsbury’s is very close to the recently opened new IKEA store.)

Summer Soirée soon – a good time to join or enquire…

The end of our 21st year is approaching, with our Summer Soirée from 7.30-9.30 on Thursday July 7th in Thatcham (hall booked from 6.30). We call it a Soirée because a concert sounds more formal and scary!

If you’re thinking of joining the orchestra, now is a great time to get in touch, especially if you happen to be free on the evening of July 7th. You’d be very welcome to join our audience of “Friendly Eavesdroppers” to hear what the orchestra has been working on this term.

It’s free to come along and listen at the Soirée. Space is limited, so you need to make contact beforehand if you would like to come.

There are pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach, George Gershwin, K. C. Moore, Thomas Tomkins and Samuel Sebastian Wesley. That sounds a lot, but there’s nothing very long.

The rest of the evening’s programme consists of solos and chamber music items from current and ex-members of Da Capo and a few additional visiting performers. In the middle we have an interval with free refreshments, about 15 to 20 minutes. There’s plenty of opportunity to chat to the players if you’d like to – either during the interval break, or before or after the music.

The week after the Soirée, we have one more “winding down” evening, before we start our summer break. The orchestra more or less follows the West Berkshire school terms and half term holidays.

Whether or not you’re free to visit on the 7th, you’re welcome to get in touch for more information. Players enrol for one term at a time, and the autumn term will start on September 15th. I hope to know by the beginning of September who to expect.

Spring term 2015

Happy New Year, everyone!

On 17 December, a group of current and past members of Da Capo had a successful and enjoyable busking outing at Sainsbury’s, Calcot. We raised about £260 for the local Samaritans – enough to keep their group running for two-and-a-half days. Music included familiar carols, Jingle Bells, We Wish You A Merry Christmas, and a short Christmas piece by Mendelssohn which we had worked on during the term.

Soon we’ll be starting back for the New Year. We have four or five new players this term, bringing the orchestra up to about forty people. As usual, there will be a mixture of music from different periods and different countries. The individual parts vary from easy to more difficult, to match what different people have learnt so far.

If your New Year’s resolution is to “blow the dust off” a musical instrument, do get in touch for a chat (via phone or email) to find out if the orchestra is the right thing for you. There’s no minimum standard – you’re welcome as soon as you’re brave enough! We include simple practices of clapping rhythms, or playing a rhythm on one note, so most people manage to join in a little bit even at their first rehearsal.

Winter Soirée 2014

On 4 December, we welcomed our usual audience of “friendly eavesdroppers” to Da Capo’s Winter Soirée.

The whole orchestra played five pieces. The rest of the programme was a varied mix of solos and chamber music, by orchestra members and a few visitors. One small woodwind group included three players who had joined the orchestra only in September!

Mendelssohn – Frohlocket ihr Völker auf Erde. We welcomed the audience with this cheerful Christmas tune originally for 8-part choir. Its name means “Rejoice, ye people on Earth”.

Bach – O Jesulein süss – “O sweet little Jesus”. One of the challenges for the orchestra this term was to play this piece in a smooth, flowing way with no gaps.

Scriabin – Reverie. This piece representing a daydream had the season’s most difficult rhythm and most difficult notes – but not too fast, and with lots of repetition.

Pichl – Rondo in Tempo di Giga. A giga was a jolly dance. The cellos get a featured spot with a different tune, so the rest of the orchestra gets a chance to practise playing quietly.

Michael Altenburg – Ein wunderschönes Kindelein, leading into In Dulci Jubilo, was published at the beginning of the 17th century for voices in six parts, which might also have been accompanied by instruments. The title refers to baby Jesus and means “a wonderfully beautiful little child”. In Dulci Jubilo goes back even further than that, showing that composers are always picking up tunes and rearranging them!