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 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.
In the last few seasons Robert has developed a special relationship with Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, conducting them at venues across the island, and he is delighted to return in the 19/20 season to work with the orchestra again. He also recently made his debut working for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducting a side-by-side workshop in Swansea.
Robert has been the Musical Director of the City of Cambridge Symphony Orchestra since 2012, and in May 2020 he will reach a total of 50 concerts with them. As part of another wonderful six-concert season at West Road Concert Hall, Robert is excited to mark this milestone with a performance of Strauss’ monumental tone poem, An Alpine Symphony. Robert is also Musical Director of Aylesbury Symphony Orchestra, and he is looking forward to his first season with Essex Symphony Orchestra, alongside a guest appearance with Finchley Symphony Orchestra.
The 19/20 season sees the remarkable 75th Anniversary of Stoneleigh Youth Orchestra (SYO) and Robert is delighted to celebrate with them, with concerts at Cadogan Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, and an ambitious celebratory programme of music and star soloists. Recently SYO have enjoyed success performing in the NFMY Proms at the Royal Albert Hall, and a broadcast on BBC Radio 3 as part of the Making Music ‘Adopt a Composer’ scheme. SYO tour extensively, and under his guidance have developed a wonderful exchange partnership with Malta Youth Orchestra.
Alongside SYO, Robert is Regional Director of Music for the National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain, and Conductor in Residence at St Albans High School. He also works at the Royal College of Music Junior Department (RCMJD) where he conducts the Sinfonia, and he enjoys working with organisations including Malta Youth Orchestra, Yorchestra, Oasby Music Group, and Benslow Music.
He is increasingly busy as a teacher of conducting technique. Robert is responsible for all of the conducting classes at the RCMJD, and he teaches on the Masters Programme at the Royal College of Music (RCM), delivering a unit entitled ‘The Conductor as Educator’. He has also given workshops and training in ensemble conducting technique for a number of schools and music services.
Born in Pembrokeshire, Robert studied at Royal Holloway, University of London before winning a scholarship, funded by the H R Taylor Trust, to the Royal College of Music where his conducting teachers were Peter Stark and Robin O’Neill. At the RCM he prepared the orchestras and acted as assistant to conductors including Lorin Maazel, Bernard Haitink and Vladimir Ashkenazy. In 2011 Robert was a member of the European Union Youth Orchestra, playing orchestral piano and celeste for their European tour.
For three years Robert was Musical Director of Nonesuch Orchestra, conducting an extensive series of outreach concerts and appearing at London festivals including the St Jude’s Proms in Hampstead. He has toured the UK with aerial theatre company Ockham’s Razor, directing choirs for their critically acclaimed production, Not Until We Are Lost. In past seasons, he has conducted Oxford University Orchestra, King’s College London Symphony Orchestra, Suffolk Sinfonia, Havant Symphony Orchestra, Kingston Philharmonia, Farnborough Symphony Orchestra, the Yorchestra Holiday Courses, the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and Tallis Chamber Orchestra.
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.