We have a lovely friendly community here at Chertsey Orchestra and to give you a taste of that, we’d like to introduce you to some of our members…

Tracy plays oboe and joined us in 2019. She started learning oboe at 7 years old but stopped at 15 and had barely played for over 30 years. She says:

“Everyone was so welcoming and it didn’t matter that I was very rusty. I soon got back into it, and orchestra night is now the highlight of my week. Playing in an orchestra is so much more fun than playing on your own and the people are all so lovely.”

Meet our former cellist and now violinist, Martin.  He says:

“I started on cello in 2015 so I’d been playing for less than 18 months when I became a founding member of the orchestra in 2017. Sadly I don’t seem to have got much better at cello since then, but it’s amazing to be part of an orchestra and hear your own small contribution feed into an awesome overall sound. Seriously, the orchestra has been a massive help in developing my own ability as well as lots of fun. I can’t quite believe it’s been 5 years.”

Meet flautist Clare, who joined in 2018 and has played violin for a while during her time with us. She says:

“Nothing like a quick action shot! I’ve been a flute player for quite a long time but when I first joined Chertsey Orchestra I’d not really played much for a some time. It was such a relief to find an orchestra where there were no auditions, everyone welcome and all abilities. Absolutely perfect. I’ve also done a couple of terms playing violin  too, so it’s an excellent forum for experiencing another instrument or trying something new. So come along and join us; we are all very friendly and encourage each other to have a go. An amazing set of like-minded musicians…..it’s fab!!”

Introducing Anne, one of our violinists who joined us in 2022.  She says:

“I was a research scientist for Beechams before having my two daughters and then I went into teaching. I had 16 happy years at Heathside School in Weybridge before taking early retirement and moving to Silverstone in Northamptonshire. Grandchildren have pulled me back to live in Surrey. I have toyed with playing the violin for a few years but COVID and the lockdowns didn’t allow me to find any more excuses to take it more seriously.”

This is clarinetist Sally who has been with us since 2017. She says:

“About 10 years ago, I was able to fulfil an ambition to buy and learn to play the clarinet and, as I was working in a large school at the time, was allowed to join the school band which I really enjoyed. Sadly, this ended when I left the school and went to work elsewhere. So I was really pleased to discover Chertsey Orchestra which has an amazingly skilled and patient conductor who continually encourages us all to do our best with a very varied selection of musical styles.

Everyone is very friendly and I heartily recommend the orchestra to anyone who has an instrument that’s gathering dust in a cupboard, to get it out and join in.”

This is Denise, our highly talented trumpet player who’s another founding member, having been with us since the first rehearsal. She says: 

“Playing trumpet in the back row between the utterly lovely and very talented Meg on French horn and the equally talented and incorrigibly naughty ladies in the clarinet section is the highlight of my week. Being part of an ensemble is so rewarding and fulfilling. When a piece of music that was initially inscrutable and impossible finally comes together it feels euphoric! I would urge anyone who is musically curious to come and play… it doesn’t matter what standard you are, what instrument you play or how long you have been playing, Claire will find a place for you.

I first started learning the tenor horn at school (because it meant missing maths once a week) – But I was lazy and didn’t practise and I gave up after a few months. Scroll forward 30 years and I saw a trumpet for a few quid in a second hand shop. I thought… ‘what if?’ It was a battered old thing and made some strangled honks but, miraculously I still remembered the C major scale and the opening bars of Ode To Joy. I picked it up on and off for a few years and then decided to take proper lessons again. I started at Grade one and have recently passed grade five. What utter joy it has brought me reconnecting with the instrument and being part of an orchestra. I feel so very lucky.”
This is flautist Lisa, who joined in 2022. She says:

“Hello, I am Lisa and play flute. I started to learn the flute aged 28, which feels like an aeon ago!! I can’t remember my rationale for choosing the flute but I sought out a second hand one and found a teacher. I took grades 2, 3 and 4 and was preparing to take grade 5 when we moved from Lincolnshire to Surrey. My flute “journey” came to a screeching halt and I hardly played at all for a good 10 years or so. The few times I did play, it was not consistent enough to really brush up my skills and begin to become proficient again.

Fast track to January 2022 and a conversation with a colleague at work highly recommending Chertsey Orchestra via a member who said very positive comments about how wonderful it is. I plucked up the courage to contact Claire – our fantastic conductor and mentor – and after a conversation encouraging me to come along, I headed to my first rehearsal on a chilly winters evening. As the saying goes “the rest is history”. Everyone was very welcoming and now I look forward to Tuesday evenings and 90 minutes of playing music with like-minded people. My skills have improved enormously in the last few months and I have found my passion for playing again. If you are thinking of coming along, please do so – it doesn’t matter if you are a novice or a virtuoso, all abilities are welcome.”

Next in our ‘meet the orchestra’ series follows an excerpt from an interview Tracy performed with our cellist & double bassist:

“Together: Hello, we are Dougal and George, a father and son combo who operate in the lower strings.

Dougal: George started cello at the tender age of three, based on the fact that the nearest Suzuki method teacher near-by taught the cello. He loves playing but not enough to actually practice.

George: Oi! I resent that assertion. Dad, like many in the orchestra, played double bass in school and recently re-acquired one because he’s going through a mid-life crisis.

Dougal: That’s true. It was cheaper than a sports car.

Tracy: How did you find the orchestra?

Dougal: I found out through the Rock Project Encore – Claire The Conductor has connections with the Rock Project which we both have partaken of in the past, and I’d heard through the grapevine about how friendly and laid back it is.

George: I didn’t have a choice. You told me if I didn’t play the cello I’d have to stand outside in the rain waiting for you. Although, having said that, everyone is always very welcoming and playing music for 90 minutes is really fun. I spend a lot of the time laughing.

Dougal: So do I, although mostly at you. Joking aside – I really enjoy and look forward to Tuesday evenings playing music with my son.

George: That needed /s tags.

Dougal: No it didn’t – I mean it. Claire spends a super-human amount of effort orchestrating the scores to make sure that the parts fit in the sweet spot of just challenging enough to keep everyone interested. Which means for me they look like a spider has had an epileptic fit and fallen from an ink pot onto the page, and for you it’s… mostly rests?

George: (Sighs) It could be worse, we could be the only generational section. I think they may actually like their children though.

Tracy: Ooh look, Claire’s ready!”

We are delighted to introduce a very talented young violist, Maddie,
who joined us in 2022. She says:

“I’ve been playing violin consistently since I started more than 10 years ago. I’ve been a part of my school orchestra for almost six years now and really enjoy it but when I saw Chertsey Orchestra’s post on instagram I was excited to join (especially when I found out it was only three doors down from where I lived). I’ve moved now but still look forward each week to playing as part of such a great community of musicians.”