Before telling you about other music-making groups I’d just like to give a brief mention to three useful Web sites that offer advice on musicians’ physical problems and injuries. If you experience pain of any sort when practising or playing don’t ignore it! Problems can be caused by your posture or by poorly set up instruments among other causes. Take a look at the Web sites of the Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA, American), the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM) and the International Foundation for Performing Arts Medicine (IFPAM). Look here for BAPAM’s useful health advice fact sheets.
If you are looking for an orchestra or band to join and don’t find anything appropriate here you could try looking at the very useful UK Amateur Orchestras’ Web site. It also includes bands. It’s very well organised by UK region (some groups near the loose boundaries appear in more than one region). This link is to a useful BBC page about finding a choir . The groups I’ve mentioned below are in what I think of as the “Greater Reading” (Berkshire, UK) area.
Try searching on www.google.com for more information on groups which have no contact details here, or try sending e-mail to Patsy who may be able to put you in touch with members of the groups. The list is in random order. Details, of venues and times in particular, may be out of date, so don’t just turn up without checking!
I’m always particularly interested to hear about bands or orchestras that might be an appropriate next step for players progressing through Da Capo, and will be happy to include details on this page. It’s helpful to know when and where they meet, and to have full contact details.
Send e-mail to Patsy
N.B. Most of the information from here hasn’t been checked as at September 2nd, 2014, but most of the groups have their own Web sites.
Chiltern Edge Orchestral Society is a full orchestra which meets at Chiltern Edge School, Sonning Common, on Tuesday evenings in term time. Conductor Fafa Jin. Gives two informal concerts a year. General standard probably Grade 5-8 but no minimum prescribed. A number of ex-NCLSO/DC players have moved on to this orchestra. Contact: Ruth Winchester Tel: 0118 972 2164.
send e-mail to Ruth.
Goring and Streatley Concert Band “The band now has around 45 band members and we welcome new members to our rehearsals. If you are interested in joining us and would like to see what we do, we rehearse on Mondays (except Bank Holidays) from 7.45pm to 9.45pm in the Community Centre in Goring. We do not hold auditions and welcome players of any standard.”
The Starter Band is open to wind, brass or percussion players of all ages who wish to gain (or develop) experience of playing in a group. It meets in the Goring Community Centre from 6:40 to 7:25 pm on Monday evenings during term time.” Contact details on the band’s web site. Quite a number of current and ex-members of Da Capo now play with the main and starter bands.
Crowthorne Symphony Orchestra. Amateur orchestra based in Crowthorne, Berkshire, with players from a wide area. Director of Music Robert Roscoe. Rehearsals at St. Johns Church Hall, Waterloo Rd., Crowthorne, Berkshire RG45 7NT, 7.45 – 10 pm on Monday evenings in term time, “We are an enthusiastic, light-hearted group who make music for enjoyment’s sake, but who take rehearsals, practice and concerts seriously. Players are of all ages and come from all walks of life.” Three concerts a year, usually at Wellington College, Crowthorne. New members welcome, particularly strings and brass. “We hold a String Workshop in May and an Open Orchestral Workshop in September.” More details: here or contact Ruth on 0118 972 2164 or by email.
Beenham Band includes a lot of ex-members of NCLSO/DC. It rehearses at 7.30 on Friday evenings in Beenham Village School. At a concert at the Corn Exchange in Newbury on 6th November 2004, they included a new piece called Benna’s Meadow written for the band by Graham Hickey (Benna’s Meadow being the old name for Beenham). Visit the Web site (click on Beenham Band) or send e-mail to the Chairperson.
Southlake Concert Band rehearses at the Woodley Age Concern day centre in Southlake Crescent, Woodley, Reading, from 8.00 – 9.45pm on Wednesdays (doors open 7.45). Conductor Richard Wansbrough (email) writes “We prefer grade 5 and above but enthusiasm is more important. We do several concerts during the year.”
Flute players now have a dedicated ensemble in Reading. Reading Flutes, organised by local player and teacher Clare Mellor, meets fortnightly on Tuesday evenings from 8.00 at Wesley Methodist Church, Queens Road, Reading. It’s a club for adult flute players, and regular meetings include both flute technique and ensemble playing. Send email to Clare <firstname.lastname@example.org> or telephone 0118 966 9767.
Woodley Concert Band rehearses every Wednesday at St Dominic Savio RC School, Western Avenue, Woodley from 7:45pm. Each year the band performs at around 20 events, including 3 major concerts at Bearwood Theatre. Details of all events are on the website. The band welcomes new members. For more details contact us on 0870 321 2186 or e-mail
South Berks Concert Band meets in Englefield School (the only school in the only road in the village!) on Fridays from 19.45 to 22.00, conducted by Ian Hooper, a serving horn player with the REME Band.
Send e-mail to South Berks Concert Band.
Farnborough Concert Band of The Royal British Legion is a wind band accepting piccolo, flute, all clarinets, all saxophones, bassoon, french horn, cornet, trumpet, trombone, euphonium, tuba, string bass, percussion. Standard is grade 5 and above. Director of music David Smart (who was principal oboist of the Life Guards Band of the Household Cavalry until 1998) writes:
“Based in central Aldershot we rehearse on Tuesday evenings. We regularly provide musical support for the local military units, as well as regular concert performances for the public and music trips to the Continent. This is a friendly and busy band which enjoys making music and having fun.
Email us, or call 01252 345 396. Don’t delay – have fun today!!”
Henley College was hoping to start a new orchestral class in September 2000, but too few potential students applied. Conductor Christine Wells hoped subsequently to attract enough support to allow such a class to get going. If you are interested ring the College on 01491-579988 extension 337 (Adult Education) or send e-mail to the College.
For players of stringed instruments who have reached Grade 5 (or perhaps a little less for violas) places are available immediately in The Saturday Morning Orchestra. This is an old-established orchestra whose founder-conducter Raymond Jones bowed out in 2004 after 33 years with the orchestra. The orchestra meets at The Beansheaf Community Centre, Charrington Road, Calcot (West of Reading) on Saturday mornings 10.30-12.45 and from January 2011 will be conducted by Jerry Lanning. Send mail about recruitment or other orchestra matters to David Wilcox. It’s essentially a rehearsal orchestra, and doesn’t give formal public concerts.
Pangbourne and District Silver Band meets on Wednesdays at Pangbourne Village Hall.
Reading Adult College runs a number of music courses in the daytime and evening. Details of the programme for the current year should be available from the telephone number given below. For information about enrolment contact Reading Adult College: 0118-9015284 (Direct line)
Recorder players looking for kindred spirits may like to look at the Web site of the Society of Recorder Players, which has branches around the UK but also a section for country and overseas members who aren’t attached to a particular branch. The SRP publishes a magazine covering topics of particular interest to recorder players, including reviews of books, music and recordings and listings of concerts.
I believe Reading University’s Continuing Education programme offers quite a wide variety of musical activities but have no details.
Parenthesis, a mixed voice choir for parents of students at Berkshire Young Musicians’ Trust (and others) rehearses during the latter part of Saturday mornings at English Martyrs Roman Catholic Primary School, Dee Road, Tilehurst, Reading. The main choir meets from 11.45-1.15, and the smaller a capella group from 11.00-11.30. Conductor Valerie Hoppé. The choir gives regular concerts, often to raise funds for charities. More singers welcome.
Reading Bach Choir, a fully auditioned mixed voice choir with about 50 members, meets on Tuesday evenings at 7.45 in Peckover Hall at Leighton Park School, Reading, and gives regular concerts.
Reading Festival Chorus, a large mixed voice choir, meets on Monday evenings at 7.30 in the the hall at Wesley Methodist Church, Queens Road, Reading, and usually gives one concert each term, sometimes with orchestra. The choir’s present conductor, Janet Lincé, took over at the beginning of 2004 and will be leaving the choir at the end of the 2010-11 season.
Reading Haydn Choir, a mixed voice choir with about 35 members, meets on Thursday evenings at 7.45 in the Peckover Hall at Leighton Park School, Reading. Conductor Mandy Kesel. The choir usually gives one concert in each school term, with piano, organ or small orchestra accompaniment.
Wokingham Choral Society, another large mixed voice choir that gives regular concerts, often with orchestra, meets in the main hall at Emmbrook School on Thursday evenings.
Langtree Sinfonia is a full orchestra which meets at Woodcote School on Wednesday evenings and gives regular public concerts. Conductor Paul Cox.
Deane Sinfonia, conductor John Fuller (Tel:01256 327519), meets on Mondays 7.30-9.30 at the Irish Centre in Basingstoke. It gives three concerts a year, always to raise money for charities.
Reading Symphony Orchestra, conductor Stefan Hofkes, a full orchestra meeting on Thursday evenings in Reading. It works to a high standard (so is unlikely to be a suitable next step for players moving on from Da Capo) and gives regularly concerts.
Patsy Moore, updated December 2010.