The City of Cambridge Symphony Orchestra started life in 1973 as the Harston String Orchestra. Later, as a result of a change in venue, it became the Barton String Orchestra. In 2000 Leon Lovett took over as conductor and shortly afterwards, the orchestra changed its name to the Cambridge String Players. Under his baton, the orchestra has appeared regularly in West Road Concert Hall and in other venues around Cambridge. In addition to playing works for strings, the orchestra increasingly invited wind players to join it to perform works from the symphonic repertoire. Recognising this change of emphasis, the musicians decided that the orchestra needed a new name and in September 2008, it became the City of Cambridge Symphony Orchestra. In February 2012 Robert Hodge became CCSO’s new conductor.

Robert Hodge – Musical Director

Robert Hodge phot

Robert Hodge is a conductor known for his considerable skill, clarity of technique and good rapport with musicians. He devises exciting programmes that are enjoyable and challenging for players and audiences. During his six years as Musical Director of the City of Cambridge Symphony Orchestra he has conducted forty concerts exploring popular classics and lesser-known treasures.

During the 2017/18 season Robert will make his professional debut with the Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, and will be conducting the Oxford University Orchestra for the first time. Engagements with the Malta Youth Orchestra, the U12’s National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain and the Yorchestra Holiday Course contribute to his busy schedule as guest conductor. Robert has been fortunate to tour extensively, and in the past few seasons he has conducted concerts in Tuscany, Malta, Provence, Slovenia and Austria. Further trips to Prague and Malta are planned.

In pursuit of his passion for educating the next generation of musicians, Robert is currently Musical Director of Stoneleigh Youth Orchestra in London and Director of Music for the London Junior region of the National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain. He also works at the Royal College of Music Junior Department (RCMJD) where he conducts the Sinfonia. From September 2018 he begins two new appointments: Musical Director of Aylesbury Symphony Orchestra and Conductor in Residence at St Albans High School for Girls. He is increasingly busy as a teacher of conducting technique. At the RCMJD he is responsible for all conducting classes and he teaches on the Postgraduate course at the Royal College of Music (RCM), delivering a unit entitled ‘The Conductor as Educator’.

Born in Pembrokeshire, Robert studied at Royal Holloway, University of London before winning a scholarship, funded by the H R Taylor Trust, to the RCM where his conducting teachers were Peter Stark and Robin O’Neill. At the RCM he prepared the orchestras and acted as assistant to conductors Lorin Maazel, Bernard Haitink and Vladimir Ashkenazy among others.

Julia Frape – Leader

Julia Frape was appointed leader of the Cambridge String Players in April 2003. She has been a professional violinist for 20 years, having studied at the Royal Academy of Music. Her teachers included Christopher Hirons and Trevor Williams.

She has played regularly with most of the country’s principal orchestras, in particular the City of London Sinfonia, the London Symphony Orchestra, the English Sinfonia and the Rambert Dance Company.

Julia is a member of the Windsor String Quartet and is Head of Strings at the Perse School in Cambridge.

Lesley Fotherby – Resident Artist

Lesley Fotherby trained in art at colleges in Bath and London and at Leicester University after which she taught in secondary schools, worked in a Young Adults Centre and tutored adult education classes before becoming a full-time painter. She has been gallery artist with Chris Beetles Gallery since the 1980s and exhibits there regularly. Chris Beetles exhibits work by contemporary artists, together with that of 19th century watercolourists and illustrators. Further details can be found on the following website: www.chrisbeetles.com

Lesley feels fortunate to have been able to work for many years with performers who have allowed her to sit in on their classes and rehearsals including the National Youth Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet and the City of Cambridge Symphony Orchestra. She is particularly interested in movement and how to portray something transitory, be it the position of a musician in performance or the way light changes a landscape. Some of Lesley’s paintings are displayed in the foyer during the intervals of CCSO concerts.