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A Short History of Leatherhead Orchestra

The exact date the orchestra was founded is uncertain but is thought to be in 1954 by Ivy Angold as an Adult Education class at Woodville School, Leatherhead. Playing stopped for a time but was relaunched around1958 by Kathleen Riddick, when it was known as “The Wednesday Night Orchestra”. Kathleen directed with dedication and the atmosphere then is reported to have been ‘professional’. Some players graduated to the Surrey Philharmonic Orchestra, of which Kathleen was the founder and conductor for many years. We are lucky that some of these players remain with the Leatherhead Orchestra.

There were several changes of conductor over the years, including George Bixley, Edward Kay, David deVile and Arthur Diamond. At one time the orchestra was in danger of closing due to small numbers and rising costs of Adult Education classes. It was saved by Lynda Bagg, a clarinettist who ran it on a private basis, moving to a rather austere scout hut to reduce costs.

Robert Fowler took over conducting in about 1983 with Ruth Chappell (who is still with us) helping in the general organisation. Robert and Ruth brought the orchestra to the Leatherhead Institute, first in a small hall downstairs and then, as numbers grew, to the main Abraham Dixon Hall upstairs.

When Robert left Leatherhead in 1997, Christopher Johns took over conducting and music direction. In the summer of 1999 Geoffrey Harvey took over, directing until his untimely death just short of ten years with us. Ian Assersohn stepped in at short notice but had to relinquish the post due to his other commitments. Anthony Bonello joined us in September 2011 and has been with us ever since.

For details about our next concert and a look at some of our previous concert repertoire, please look at our "concerts" page.