The London Gay Symphony Orchestra was founded in May 1996 by a group of friends led by Robin Gordon-Powell, who was the Orchestra’s first conductor. The Orchestra rapidly grew in size and in October 1996 gave its first performances as a full symphony orchestra at London’s Drill Hall.
Two decades later and the LGSO now performs five full concerts per year, plus a variety of regular and ad-hoc extras. Concerts are regularly held at St Sepulchre Without Newgate, in the City, as well as occasional outings to major London venues such as St John’s Smith Square, Cadogan Hall or the Southbank Centre for special occasions.
Currently the orchestra plays predominantly in London, with an occasional outing to Brighton, and sometimes even further afield to visit our sister orchestras in Cologne (2016) and Paris (2008), and hope to visit many others in the future.
During the past twenty-one years, the LGSO has taken part in a wide range of activities and events, including performances at festivals in the UK, collaborations with many of the UK’s LGBT choirs as well as choirs from across the world as part of Various Voices 2010, Queer Zagreb in 2004 and of course at various Pride events in London. Some of our collaborations include being conducted by winner of BBC 2’s The Maestro, Sue Perkins, recording the score to the cult film Pervirella, and performing with Jimmy Somerville, Simon Callow and Rosalind Plowright.
The Orchestra’s objectives include:
- providing a safe and supportive space for musicians of all sexualities
- playing to a high standard but still offering space for players of all abilities
- being adventurous and ambitious in our programming
- sharing our passion for orchestral music with audiences new and old
- making a contribution to LGBT life in London and beyond.
With an active membership in excess of 150 people (not all playing at once of course!), the orchestra is as much a social group as a musical one; like many LGBT+ groups, the Orchestra was formed to give people the opportunity to do something they enjoy in a friendly and supportive environment without the fear of encountering prejudice.
With so many talented and keen musicians, we are very proud to have created two additional groups to add to the family. The London Gay Symphonic Winds was created in 2005 to cater for our overspill of wind players; since then it has taken on a life of its own and with a playing membership of over 50, can now be seen performing at bandstands across London, marching in the Pride Parade and has regular sit-down concerts throughout the year. More recently, the London Gay Big Band was formed in late 2011, and immediately took off; they can be seen performing at events and gigs across the city and beyond. We also cater for the keen singers amongst you, with an occasional ‘scratch chorus’ for the occasions that we need one; recent performances of the LGSO Chorus have included Verdi’s Requiem and Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast.
The LGSO is a very keen supporter of other charities; either playing at events or each concert we offer one charity a platform to speak and take a retiring collection. In these ways we have supported numerous charities over the years, including Opening Doors London, The Food Chain, Red Ribbon International, Pride Arts Festival, Crusaid, The Albert Kennedy Trust, Kairos, East London Out Project, Galop, Meningitis Trust, Diversity Role Models and the Apollo Music Project … to name but a few!
If you play an instrument and are interested in playing with us, please see the JOINING page of this site, otherwise we hope to see you at our next concert – see the CONCERTS page for details.