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 enjoys a busy schedule presenting an exciting season of concerts as Musical Director of the City of Cambridge Symphony Orchestra at the West Road Concert Hall. He is particularly well-known for his work with young people and he is passionate about the education of the next generation of musicians. Robert is Musical Director of Stoneleigh Youth Orchestra in London, and Director of Music for the South East region of the National Children’s Orchestras of Great Britain. He also works at the Royal College of Music Junior Department where he conducts the Sinfonia and delivers classes in conducting technique. Early in 2015 Robert took up a post to conduct the symphony orchestra at Rugby School, Warwickshire.
In the summer of 2015 Robert travelled with Stoneleigh Youth Orchestra, alongside soloists Andrew Zolinksky and Daniel Benn, to perform concerts in the Malta and Victoria International Arts Festivals. Following this successful tour Robert is delighted to have been invited back to work with Malta Youth Orchestra and to make his debut performance at the Manoel Theatre, Valletta.
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 King’s College London Symphony Orchestra, Suffolk Sinfonia, Havant Symphony Orchestra, Kingston Philharmonia and Tallis Chamber Orchestra. Robert has also delivered workshops and master-classes in conducting for Hampshire Music Service.
Under his baton CCSO achieves ever higher standards of performance. He and the CCSO are developing a distinctive performing style that combines precision with passion. The broad range of repertoire, including established favourites and some rarely heard works, challenges players and audiences alike. Robert’s longer term plans for the CCSO include building on the successes of recent seasons and developing new opportunities, especially with younger performers, composers and conductors.
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.