History of the Society

Founded 1956 by
George Barker MBE (1906-89) Registered Charity no 1028429

The Symphony and Children’s Orchestras are both run by the Saffron Walden Orchestral Society.

The Saffron Walden Symphony Orchestra – previously known as Uttlesford Orchestra – was founded in the early 1950s by George Barker MBE, primarily to play for Cambridge Opera in presenting public performances for charity in various country houses and elsewhere in the region.  Before long it was also presenting public orchestral concerts in Saffron Walden and the surrounding district.

The symphony orchestra was, and is still, made up of competent amateurs, music teachers and some former professionals in the North West Essex, Cambridge and East Hertfordshire areas. We put on four or five public concerts a season (from September to the end of the following June), including some less frequently performed works, as well as those from the established repertoire.

The symphony orchestra has a tradition of giving promising young soloists the opportunity to play concertos, and encourages junior young musicians by putting on a family concert in the autumn. The associated Saffron Walden Children’s Orchestra (SWCO) was formed by Kate Goatman in 2014 and organises children’s orchestra courses for young beginners in the area in the school holidays.

From 2014, the symphony orchestra has performed mainly in the new Saffron Hall in Saffron Walden under its committed and dynamic conductor and Music Director Richard Hull.