Cranbrook Symphony Orchestra
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About Us

Photograph courtesy of Jonathan Rutland

A charity concert of Prokofiev's Peter and the World classic children's tale
in aid of Action Medical Research held in the magnificant Great Space
at St Ronan's School, Hawkhurst, Kent


A very warm welcome to Cranbrook's local amateur Orchestra.

Please feel free to browse our website.

Conductor - Andrew Witham

Andrew started piano lessons at the age of six and within a few years was a regular organist at his local church. He enjoyed improvising and took his first steps in composing at the age of eleven. His first musical, 'Ebeneezer', written when he was just 13, was performed at his school and reviewed by a national newspaper.

Andrew completed a degree in music at Trinity College of Music and immediately began his teaching career.

He has composed over a dozen musicals for schools and has arranged music for a variety of ensembles. Andrew is Assistant Director of Music at Saint Ronan's Preparatory School and is musical director of Tongswood Chamber Choir.

He lives with his son and two cats in Robertsbridge...where he eats far too much chocolate!

History of the Orchestra

Cranbrook Symphony Orchestra (Kent, England) began in the mid-1960s, when Wilfred Oldacre, a retired clergyman and amateur flautist who taught Latin at DCPS (Dulwich College Prep School), gathered a group of players keen to join an orchestra. They met at a hut in the grounds of DCPS. Wilfred Oldacre conducted predominately in the early days of the orchestra, but on occasion a cellist, Cecil Irvin conducted.

The orchestra gained momentum during the 1970s when John Williams, then head of music at Cranbrook School, conducted the orchestra and met regularly at ‘Big School’ and was assisted by David Murphy of Angley School.

The orchestra flourished throughout the early 1980s regularly giving three concerts a year, usually in the Queen’s Hall, with good varied programmes that included a concerto. During this period the orchestra was conducted by Peter Aviss and led by Kathryn Aiers.

From 1983 the orchestra continued to prosper under the baton of Peter Currie, notably there were two concerts with the Cranbrook and Dramatic Society - a Viennese night and a Gilbert and Sullivan evening.

Towards the end of the 1980s the orchestra floundered but Lance Whitehead (current leader of the cellists) and others reignited the orchestra.

Judy Hollis, then head of strings at Ashford School and teacher at Sutton Valence School, too over the baton and became conductor in 1989. Under her guidance the orchestra became stable and prospered. Some ambitious programmes were performed, including a performance of The Creation with Sutton Valence Choral Society. She remained conductor until she retired in 2007 when Dr Michael Robertson took on the baton. Michael career has followed the path of teacher, harpsichordist, organist and conductor as well as a visiting research fellow at the University of Leeds.

Photography courtesy of Andrew Errington Photography
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