New London Orchestra

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New London Orchestra

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The New London Orchestra began as a body of players regularly assembled by Ronald Corp to accompany concerts given by Highgate Choral Society, and was formally founded in 1988. It developed into an orchestra specialising in rarely heard late 19th and 20th century repertoire. It is based in London. With Corp as Artistic Director, the Orchestra has helped to bring the music of Martin to a wider audience and to re-establish the popularity of British Light Music through a series of recordings on the independent label Hyperion Records. In the field of education, the Orchestra has devised projects which use music as a tool to enhance learning in the key curriculum subjects of maths, literacy and science. Following its 'Newham Welcomes the World' community project, the NLO has focused its concert-giving and outreach work in the local community in the London Borough of Newham. The orchestra is independent of public funding, being reliant on private sponsorship and donations.

Concert History

A characteristic of the New London Orchestra (NLO) has been its programming of unusual repertoire, including lesser-known works by famous composers and pieces by little-known composers.[1] Composers who have been featured include Martin, a piece of whose music was programmed in every concert from the Orchestra's launch until his centenary in 1990, as well as Ibert, Milhaud, Kabalevsky, Honegger, Roussel and Sibelius.


The NLO played at four Proms in the 1990s: the first was in 1991 at an all-Prokofiev 'Children's Prom' (8 September); the second in 1995 for a 'Young Person's Concert' with music from six countries (27 August); a Prom of Russian and American music in 1998 (31 August); and an all-French programme the following year (29 August).[2]

On 23 November 1991 the Orchestra presented the London première of the Swiss composer, Frank Martin's Requiem at the Royal Festival Hall as part of 'Swiss Fest 700'.[3]

In 1995 at St. John's, Smith Square it gave a series of concerts called 'London Firsts', each of which included London premières of works such as Rodrigo's Tres Viejos Aires de Danza (16 March), Antonín Tuapský's Violin Concerto, Roger Steptoe's Flute Concerto (18 May), Naji Hakim's Saul of Tarsus (29 June), Malcolm Arnold's Recorder Concerto (2 December) and the world concert première of Delius' Idylle de Printemps (2 November).[3]

A 'British Concerto Series' followed in 1996 with, for example, Gavin Bryars' Cello Concerto 'Farewell to Philosophy' on 30 October, as did an 'American Connections' series including music by Copland, Bloch, Piston, Kurt Weill and Bernstein, among others.[3]

2000 to the Present

2002 saw another themed series 'Passing through Paris' four concerts devoted to composers, French or otherwise, with Parisian connections. These took place at UCL Bloomsbury, one of them juxtaposing Berlioz' Roman Carnival Overture with Milhaud's Carnaval de Londres.[3]

'A Musical Celebration of the Bloomsbury Group' featured works ranging from John Blow, Handel, Ethyl Smyth and Elgar to Britten, Bridge and Debussy (22 June 2004).[3]

As part of the 2009-10 'Polskayear' and with the support of the Polish Cultural Institute, a concert of English and Polish music Szymanowski, Panufnik and Grayna Bacewicz was put on at Cadogan Hall on 14 October 2009.[3]

Composers and pieces featured in the NLO's recordings have naturally had a place in its live concerts, Sullivan, Monkton, Poulenc and Prokofiev among them. Concerts of light music have included pieces found on the 'Light Music Classics' series of discs.

Works by the following British composers have also been programmed: Holbrooke, Finzi, Cyril Rootham, Rawsthorne, Dyson, Howard Blake and Richard Blackford. In keeping with the NLO ethos, lesser-known works by well-known composers have been played, for example Holst's A Fugal Overture, Vaughan Williams' The Running Set and Janáek's Adagio. Other little-known European music to be heard has been by Arensky, Jean Françaix, the Albanian-born Thoma Simaku and the Czech, Vítzslava Kaprálová.[3]

Seldom-performed piano concertos which the New London Orchestra has programmed include those by Andrew Simpson, Howard Ferguson and Reynaldo Hahn.[3]

After initiating its 'Newham Welcomes the World' community project in 2007, the NLO began to focus its concert-giving activity in the London Borough of Newham. This started in March 2009 with a concert at the Stratford Rex featuring the actress Michelle Collins narrating Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, followed two months later by a performance at Stratford Circus of Saint-Saëns' Carnival of the Animals.[4]

From the start of the 2011-12 concert season, the NLO became the first orchestra-in-residence at Stratford Circus, starting with a concert on 21 October titled 'Sounds of London' which programmed a variety of shorter pieces by composers with London associations, from Haydn, Ketèlbey and William Alwyn to Stephen Dodgson, Phyllis Tate, Eric Coates and Robert Farnon.[5] The season continued with a showing of the film The Snowman accompanied by the NLO playing Howard Blakes music live, alongside other Christmas music.[6] A repeat of the live concert of The Snowman took place in 2012.[7]

A concert for the strings of the NLO, 'Modern Music for Strings' on 19 October 2012, saw an original programme of Britten, Barber, Bartók, Corp, Glass' Company, Max Richter's On the Nature of Daylight and Pärt's Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten. This again took place at Stratford Circus.[7]

The NLO's concerts in Newham have aimed to be affordable and accessible to schools and local community groups, with invitations to school groups to attend rehearsals.

Other Concert Activity

Since its inception, the Orchestra has accompanied Highgate Choral Society[8] and The London Chorus[9] in many of their concerts, overseas tours and recordings. In these, it has performed repertoire ranging from J. S. Bach to contemporary composers.

The NLO has also promoted 'Young Performers Concert' series at the Foundling Museum, London,[10] enabling a number of young award-winning musicians and singers in the UK to give their own recitals, the series being supported by the Musicians Benevolent Fund.


The New London Orchestra has made over 20 recordings on the Hyperion label.[11] These fall into three categories:

  • Four discs of British Light Music Classics and one each of American Light Music Classics and European Light Music Classics.[12]
  • Orchestral repertoire by composers such as Poulenc, Reynaldo Hahn, Milhaud, Satie, Prokofiev, Pierné and Virgil Thomson.
  • Operettas and musicals by the Victorian and Edwardian composers Arthur Sullivan, Sidney Jones, Lionel Monckton and Harold Fraser-Simson.

A disc released in November 2009 comprises works for string orchestra by Grayna Bacewicz, giving exposure to this composer little known outside of Poland.[13]

The issue in late 2010 by the NLO (under Corp) of the first digital recording of Rutland Boughton's opera The Queen of Cornwall[14] was designated 'Disc of The Month' in Opera magazine, March 2011 [15][16] and 'Editor's Choice' in Gramophone, September 2011.[17]

Education and outreach work

The New London Orchestra's curriculum-based education projects have sought to enhance children's learning in maths, literacy and science through music-based activities. The NLO has worked in the London boroughs of Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminster, Camden, Lambeth, Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Newham.

Other projects have included residencies in schools for deaf children,[18] workshops with adults with learning difficulties from 'Look Ahead Housing and Care' centres, Reminiscence Projects with the elderly in Camden, workshops with adults in homeless hostels in Camden, and theatre projects with the Bloomsbury Theatre, including a collaboration with City & Islington College called "Underground Reflections".[19]

Between 2011 and 2013 the JPMorgan Chase Foundation provided funding for the NLO's three-year 'Literacy Through Music' education project which took place at primary schools in Newham.[20]

'Newham Welcomes the World'

Between 2007 and 2012 the NLO devised a series of large-scale projects in the Olympic Borough of Newham, working with a variety of people of all ages from across the borough, and collaborating with a number of local institutions including the Theatre Royal Stratford East. Each year, the NLO worked with different groups within the community to create new music and give performances. These included primary and secondary schools, local sports teams, 'Look Ahead Housing and Care' residents and theatre groups, as well as the 'Ascension Eagles' Cheerleaders and 'East London Dance'.[1] One of its projects culminated in the event 'Pass the Baton' at the Stratford Rex in August 2009 featuring local sports teams performing anthems alongside live orchestral music and electronic music by the DJ Excalibah.[21][22]

Concerts of Britten's Noye's Fludde on 21 and 22 May 2013 at The Chainstore, Trinity Buoy Wharf saw young musicians from Newham Academy of Music and Newham schools playing side-by-side with the NLOs professionals, and with Newham primary school children performing as the 'Chorus of Animals'.[23][24] The events were in collaboration with schools in Lille, France, and the Orchestre National de Lille, who mounted a parallel performance on 28 May 2013 at the Auditorium du Nouveau Siècle. The constant between the two countries were the conductor, the adult and child soloists and around 20 French and British children forming part of the Chorus of Animals.


  1. 1.0 1.1 See NLO website, {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
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  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Printed New London Orchestra concert programme(s).
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  8. See Highgate Choral Society website {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  9. See The London Chorus website {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
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  15. Fairman, Richard. Review in Opera online magazine, March 2011, {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  16. 'Disc of the Month' citation at the Association of British Orchestras {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  17. Cited on Presto Classical website, {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  18. See "NLO in deaf schools" at {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  19. More information about these at {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  20. For more on this, and to see their aims, see {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
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  23. See concert details at {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}
  24. See Newham Recorder article by Melissa York, {{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}

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