mark and orchestra in action

Under the direction of Artistic Director Mark Shanahan, Forest Philharmonic Orchestra has gained an impressive reputation for the high quality and vitality of its performances. Originally the Leyton Municipal Orchestra, it was reconstituted under its current name in 1964 by its first Artistic Director, Frank Shipway. As well as regular annual seasons of concerts at Walthamstow Assembly Hall, the orchestra also performed in the Barbican Centre, Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, St John’s, Smith Square, Fairfield Halls and St Alban’s Cathedral.

Since 2021, the orchestra has had to relocate its concerts while the Assembly Hall is not available for performances. Although still rehearsing in the Borough of Waltham Forest, we have found ourselves performing just over the border in two venues in Redbridge: St Gabriel’s Church and the Sir James Hawkey Hall. We are pleased to say that the orchestra is once again in demand for choral concerts, and a recent performance at Saffron Hall is to be followed this season by further engagements with local choral societies in venues across London. We are also delighted to continue welcoming top-quality soloists, who have included, most recently, Ronan O’Hora, Tim Crawford, Leah-Marian Jones, Lachlan Radford, Ben Goldscheider and Gemma Rosefield.

As of the start of the 2023-24 season, we’re delighted to announce the appointment of Sophie Cameron as new permanent leader of the orchestra, following the retirement of John Crawford who filled the role so brilliantly for over 30 years.

Programmes cover a range of symphonic and smaller works from Beethoven and Tchaikovsky through to Coleridge-Taylor, Mahler, Florence Price and Shostakovich. In our concerts we aim to combine popular works with new and unexpected pieces for audiences (and players!) to discover.


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