History of the Orchestra
Established in 1902 


The Ipswich Orchestral Society was established in 1902, its object - as defined in its constitution - being 'the study and performance of orchestral music by amateur musicians'.  Its first Conductor and the person who had most to do with the formation of the Society was Dr Walter Sinclair - an oculist practising in the Suffolk town of Ipswich.  Dr Sinclair was a friend of Sir Henry Wood and modeled the programmes of the new Society on those of the Promenade Concerts.  It is not surprising that professional support for the Society's early concerts came from the Queen's Hall Orchestra.


The programmes of those days show how much fashions in musical taste have changed.  It was not unusual for the orchestra to perform ten musical items at one concert with three individual soloists, one of whom would have been a singer with piano accompaniment.  Vocalists were always engaged for those early concerts.  Many programmes in those early days contained only part of a symphony - not something we would wish to do now!


In 2016, we changed our name to Ipswich Symphony Orchestra - a name better suited to the size and quality of the orchestra, and the prominence of our County Town.



Programme of the first Concert, given on 27 November 1903 at 8.00pm



 Beethoven  Overture  Egmont
 * Gounod  Recit & Air  Lend Me Your Aid
 Beethoven  Symphony No 1 in C  (Minuet omitted)
 ** Benjamin Godard  Suite for Flute Solo  
 Wagner  Introduct to AIII  Lohengrin 
 Mozart  Overture  Marriage of Figaro 
 * Tosti  Song  Parted
 Edward German  Three Dances  Nell Gwynn
 ** Kohler  Flute Solo  Shepherd's Idyll
 Sir A C Mackenzie  Benedictus Op 37  
 * Gounod  Cavatina from Faust  Event Bravest Hears
 Elgar  March  Pomp & Circumstance





















* Solo singer - Darren Llewellyn

** Solo Flautist - Albert Fransella


Prices: 4s., 3s., 2s. 6d, Reserved Balcony, 1s. 6d. Admission 1s.





The Society has always been well supported by members living in the country districts, and it is amusing to recall that many of these players came to the weekly rehearsals in horse-drawn vehicles!


Dr Sinclair remained the Conductor until 1919 when he resigned owing to ill-health.  Mr Edgar Wilby, Professor and Conductor at the Blackheath Conservatoire of Music, and a violinist of the London Symphony Orchestra, was the Conductor until the outbreak of World War II.


The Society's activities were suspended during the Second World War, but a nucleus of old members, with some new recruits, started rehearsing under Philip Pfaff in 1947.  A few days after the Society's concert of 21 February 1949, the Public Hall was burned down. 


Peter Burges became the Conductor in 1948 and remained with the Society until 1953 when he went abroad on behalf of the Associated Board of Music.  Colin Davis succeeded Peter Burges and was the Society's Conductor for two seasons.


After many years performing in school halls and local churches, the Ipswich Orchestral Society celebrated its 75th anniversary in the Grand Hall at the Ipswich Corn Exchange.  The concert included the Beethoven Emperor Concerto performed by John Lill and conducted by Christopher Phelps.  By 1979 both annual major concerts were being performed in the Corn Exchange.


The first Family Concert was also held in 1979; being a rather informal event in the sports hall of the Willis Faber building.  Five years later the Family Concert was moved to the Corn Exchange.







Centenary Concert 2002


These two photographs were taken during and after the Ipswich Orchestral Society's Centenary Concert on Saturday 30 November 2002.

History of the Orchestra


History of the Orchestra



The photograph below shows a rehearsal of the Ipswich Orchestral Society prior to that concert.

History of the Orchestra 








Jubilee Concert 1952


The photograph below of the Ipswich Orchestral Society was taken at the afternoon rehearsal prior to the Society's Jubilee Year Concert, which was held on Thursday 27 March 1952.

History of the Orchestra 


Peter Burgess


Back Row:
D H O'Neill (Honourary Treasurer & Concert Manager), Ivan Turner, Jack Hawes, W Gilbert, T Truckett, Mrs Edna Buckley, Eric Buckley, Mrs Lesley Widdicombe, Mrs R Kittermaster, Miss P Drake, Mrs A Robinson, D Marsh


Third Row:
Mrs Bacon-Smith (Honourary Librarian), L Bobby, Mrs Bobby, Miss Cynthia Clarke, Mrs Irene Moore, Miss E Gall, Mrs P Cornell, Miss D Sutton, Miss D Newlands (later Mrs D Mills), J Goddard, W Garling


Second Row:
Unknown, G Williams, W Newman, N Garwood, A Cooke, H W Dobbs, S Goddard, Eric Moss, A Bone, Ian Pillar


First Row:
Mrs Pummer, Miss J Catchpole, Miss W Appleton, Miss J Cubitt, Mrs M Pratt, Miss G Pickett, Philip Haworth (Leader), Miss M Oakley, Miss B Carter, Mrs J Byfield, Mrs J Gibbons, Miss A Votier, F Hopson, A Smith



Programme of the Jubilee Concert, given on Thursday 27 March 1952



 Sibelius  Suite  Pelleas & Melisande
 Beethoven  Violin Concerto in D  Soloist - Alan Loveday
 Bach  Brandenburg Concerto in F

 Violin - Philip Haworth

 Oboe - Eric Buckley

 Flute - Rachel Kittermaster

 Trumpet - Dennis Clift

 Cello - Ivan Turner


 On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring  
 Mozart  Overture  Marriage of Figaro 



It is interesting to note that the overture which concluded the programme was played at the first Public Concert given by the Society.







This photograph of the Conductor, Peter Burgess, is Circa 1950-1952, and some members of today's Ipswich Orchestral Society may recognise the 'cellist, Jack Hawes.

History of the Orchestra







21st Concert 1914

This photograph of the Ipswich Orchestral Society was taken in 1914 - on the day of the Society's 21st concert.

History of the Orchestra