Walthamstow Assembly Hall WAH17 has been home to Forest Philharmonic Orchestra since its first full season 1964-65. Under the direction of Artistic Director Mark Shanahan, the Forest Philharmonic Orchestra has gained an impressive reputation for the high quality and vitality of its performances, and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014/15.

Originally the Leyton Municipal Orchestra, it was reconstituted under its current name in 1964 by its first Artistic Director, Frank Shipway. The first President was Zoltan Kodaly, followed by Sir John Barbirolli, with an illustrious list of patrons including Leonard Bernstein, Sir William Walton, Benjamin Britten and Lorin Maazel and soloists including pianists John Lill and Stephen Kovacevich.

Today, the orchestra continues to perform with top artists such as soprano Susan Bullock and pianist Stephen Hough, and also gives opportunities to young musicians in the local Waltham Forest community through open rehearsals and a participation programme. Each string section is led by a professional player, whose input in rehearsals enables the orchestra to fulfil its aim of coaching the musicians of tomorrow while providing a platform for the leading amateur players of today.

Forest Philharmonic has a regular season at Walthamstow Assembly Hall. It was invited by Waltham Forest Council to perform for HM The Queen for her visit to Walthamstow as part of her Diamond Jubilee Tour in 2012, and recently performed the live music accompaniment to Hitchcock’s film ‘Blackmail’ as part of ‘Beyond Barbican’. The orchestra has also performed in the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Barbican Centre, St John’s, Smith Square and St Alban’s Cathedral, featuring works such as Mahler’s symphonies nos. 2, 3 and 8, Tippett’s A Child of Our Time and Britten’s Spring Symphony. Recent soloists include Ronan O’Hora, Fenella Humphreys, Gemma Rosefield, Tamsin Waley-Cohen, Paul Archibald, Gareth Hulse, Anne-Marie Owens, Linda Richardson, Julian Gavin and Andrew Greenan. The orchestra regularly performs with choral societies and also took part in the BBC 2 programme Maestro.

Visit our events calendar for details of the next Concert.