Chesterfield Symphony Orchestra

A brief history of 40+ years of making music

Musical Directors / Conductors          Orchestra Leaders              
Nicholas Perry
(1982 – 1983)
Paul Robertshaw
(1982 – 1995)
Ronald Kempton
 (1983 – 1985)
Edward Boothroyd
(1995 – 2017, Guest 2021)
Andrew Hodkinson
(1985 – 1990, 2011 – 2016)
Rachel Middleton
(Guest 2008)
Michael Ward
(1990 – 2008)
Charlotte Pinder
(Guest 2014)
Edward Boothroyd
(Guest Conductor 1990, 2008 – 2009)
Rebecca Francis
(2017 – 2021)
Tom Newall
(2009 – 2011)
Lucy Philips
(2022 – current)
George Morton
(Guest Conductor 2015)
Jack Grime
(2016 – 2024)
River Edis-Smith
(2024 - current)


Chesterfield Symphony Orchestra (CSO) was founded at the beginning of the 1980’s giving its very first concert on Saturday 10th July 1982 in the Market Hall Assembly Rooms. As with many great ideas, CSO was conceived late at night in the local hostelry. Five friends were lamenting the lack of opportunities local to Chesterfield for adult orchestral instrumentalists to play together when the idea formed to address that by establishing an orchestra for Chesterfield. Unlike many ‘great ideas’ thought up in the local pub, this one withstood the cold light of day and so the five friends; Ian Glasby, Paul Robertshaw, Joyce & John Sallis, and Maureen Smith set about forming CSO. Advertisements were placed for instrumentalists; rehearsal space was found and the working constitution of the orchestra was drafted along with all the other mechanics required to get a music group up and running including programming, hiring music, funding and performance venues. At the time of the first performance in July 1982, CSO had a membership of just fifteen with the numbers being boosted for the performance by friends and other professional musicians ‘fixed’ for the concert.

Since that first concert in 1982, CSO has successfully performed at least 3 concerts each year at varying venues in and around the Chesterfield area whilst growing in size from the initial membership of 15 to the current 55. Looking back through the concert programmes reveals that the orchestra has played at least: 58 Overtures, 65 Symphonies, 36 concertos (at least once, with 55 soloists) and 236 suites and other works. A total just short of 400 works over 4 decades. This wide range of music has led to many concerts that have stayed long, and will remain, in the memory of the orchestra including a very exciting millennium concert when CSO, conducted by Andrew Hodkinson, participated in the English Nature Millennium celebration held in the open air in Lathkill Dale. More recently, CSO has had the privilege of performing in the imposing Barrow Hill Roundhouse amongst the historic steam engines – a wonderful evening for the orchestra and audience alike. CSO have also been privileged during the last 40 years to join with other local music groups including Chesterfield Gilbert and Sullivan Society, Bakewell Choral Society, Rhodian Brass and Chesterfield Philharmonic Choir to name a few.

Over the years the Orchestra has been very fortunate and delighted to be able to perform with some notable local, national and international soloists including: Julie Price – bassoon; David Pyatt – french horn; Andrew Slater – bass baritone; Martin Milner, Alexandra Wood, Martyn Lewis Jackson & Soojin Han – violin; Martin Roscoe, Beate Toyka & Julian Clef – piano; Katy Strudwick – flute; and Brian Baines (BBC Look North), James Nesbitt (actor) & Mike Spriggs (local amateur actor & orator) – who have narrated orchestral works as they were performed.

The orchestra is immensely proud of its achievements over the first 40 years, none of which could have been achieved without the help and support of a significant group of people to which CSO owes a huge debt of gratitude: our musical directors and orchestra leaders whose musical and coaching skills have given the members the confidence and self-belief to perform the many demanding works; Ashgate Croft School who have provided rehearsal space since our inception; patrons, friends and fund raisers; Georgina Reed who has created our advertising flyers and programme designs for the last 10 years; visiting soloists and players, including some from the Countess of Munster soloist scheme; and for the first 25 years, the National Federation of Music Societies (now Making Music), Chesterfield Borough Council, East Midlands Arts and some of the venues, who provided critical financial support.

This leads us to the economic pressure that has come to bare from the mid 2000’s which has seen all this financial support disappear and so the orchestra has had to adapt and rely more on our members and patrons to fund our activities. Recently the HMRC, an unlikely source of assistance, has provided some funding via gift aid for members’ subscriptions and the recent addition of Orchestra Tax Relief (OTR), both schemes being a great help to CSO’s funding for which we are very grateful. All of that said, the greatest support has always been from, and we hope will continue to come from, you, our audience. The people of Chesterfield and surrounding area have been amazing in giving their support. CSO does not set out to make profits. It simply needs not to make a loss, and your continued support at our concerts makes that possible.
Thank you for all of your support. Let’s all look forward to the next forty years.

Brought to you by Making Music
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