As a Charity the Orchestra exists to serve the local community and to provide a forum for all musicians who enjoy playing in an ensemble. We have a policy of welcoming anyone without the requirement of an audition and we maintain no restrictions on section size within the orchestra. However at the discretion of the Musical Director, we may occasionally have to operate a waiting list for certain oversubscribed instruments.
The music we typically play will require someone of at least Grade 5 standard but exams are not expected. The age range of players encompasses year 9 school musicians to retired members. We offer the opportunity for school players to stretch their playing ability. Our music repertoire is wide and varied to suit all tastes and ranges from classical symphonies to show music incorporating big band and swing. Whatever your musical taste it should be well provided for.
The Orchestra is run by a chairman and committee and the involvement of members in organisation is encouraged and welcomed. We have social evenings from time to time and produce concerts 3 to 4 times a year. Members pay a termly fee to cover music cost etc. We pride ourselves on our friendly, hardworking approach to our music making.
We are led by Christine Meers and directed by both Chris Gardner and David Budd.
We welcome opportunities to perform locally in aid of community causes.
Chris Gardner, son of the composer John Gardner, began his musical training at the Royal College of Music Junior Department where he studied timpani, percussion, clarinet and piano, and then at
Sussex University where he took a degree in music. Most of his working life was spent at the Performing Right Society, where he had a number of jobs including that of IT Director, and he finished
his working days as Managing Director of ICE Services AB, a Swedish Company owned by PRS and its Swedish counterpart, STIM. Musical activity took an increasingly back seat as his professional
career developed, but as retirement came in sight, from about 2007, he began easing himself back into musical disciplines.
Not only is Chris joint conductor of the Alton Concert Orchestra, he often plays piano for other local choirs and performing groups such as AODS, as well as conducting Cantique chamber choir since 2010. He is a versatile musician, working as a composer, timpanist, accompanist, conductor and occasional clarinettist. His Te Deum was performed by the Holybourne Singers in October 2015 and he regularly writes music for Alton's Last Night of the Proms in the Alton Public Gardens. These works have included Fiesta Telefonica for mobile phone (performed by the town mayor) and orchestra, A Hampshire Suite for country dance band and orchestra, and his latest, Dances of the British Isles, were performed at the 2015 concert. Last year saw the first performance of Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning, at the annual Wonder of Christmas Concert in Alton Maltings, written in memory of Mac Newton and dedicated to everyone who has been involved in Alton’s Wonder of Christmas concerts.
David started his musical apprenticeship aged 6 as a chorister in St.Ethelreda’s Church, Hatfield. He attended several RSCM courses where he learned important musical disciplines from the sacred
repertoire, enjoying singing in St.Alban’s Abbey and Lincoln cathedral. However, it was performing in the Royal Albert Hall with a local youth choir that promoted music as a strong interest and
influence in later life. He sang with the Bishop’s Stortford Boys Choir, touring the eastern United States in 1977, shortly after which nature took its course and he switched from singing to
playing the trumpet, in which he achieved grade 8 shortly before leaving school. Music has since remained a great passion which has always occupied much of his free time, alongside a career path
that has spanned insurance, education and now as an Operations Director of an IT software company.
He sang for many years as a bass with Portsmouth Festival Choir, before moving to Alton in 2001, where in 2003 he discovered the Alton Concert Orchestra. Intrigued by the offer from the then musical director, Graham Cross, to provide lessons in conducting, David soon found himself wielding the baton. He replaced Graham as principal conductor in October 2006, a position he held until July 2017. He was fortunate to conduct the inaugural ‘Last Night of the Proms’ concert, an event which has enjoyed great success and is now considered a ‘jewel in the crown’ of the Alton calendar. He decided to hand the baton on to Chris Gardner in order to allow time for other musical pursuits, including joining the Waverley Singers and playing trumpet in the Alton Brass Quintet. To prove that old habits die hard, he joined the St.Lawrence, Alton, parish choir in 2005, where he continues his musical apprenticeship much as he started it, albeit reading from the bass rather than the treble clef.
Our Committee is made up of players in the orchestra and are elected at our AGM each Autumn.
The Committee consists of the following Trustees:
Conductors: Chris Gardner & David Budd
Conductor Laureate: Graham Cross
Leader: Christine Meers
Secretary: Judith Stradling
Membership Secretary: Megan Russell
Treasurer: Rebecca Kiff
Publicity Secretary: Sophie Barton
Concert Secretary: Nora Dobson
Extras Liaison: Angi Warran
Librarian: Trish Privetti
General Member: Mike Glover
General Member: Ashley Canning