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About Us

Reading Symphony Orchestra (RSO) is an amateur orchestra based in Reading (UK). With over 60 players, we are led by a professional Conductor and Musical Director, Cathal Garvey.


RSO was formed in 1944 by musicians who were previously members of the Berkshire Symphony Orchestra until it was disbanded at the start of the Second World War in 1939. RSO has gone from strength to strength since 1944 and we are thrilled to be celebrating our 80th anniversary in 2024.


We generally perform three to four main concerts each year at a variety of venues in Reading. Our seasons are often supplemented by additional events, such as our concerts for children as part of the annual Reading Children’s Festival. We have also collaborated with other musical groups, such as our performance of Fauré’s Requiem with the South Chiltern Choral Society in 2022.


Each year, RSO members form the Reading Sinfonietta, to perform a concert of smaller scale (and usually earlier) works than would be performed by the full symphony orchestra. Members of our woodwind section have also performed independently at events in and around Reading.


We are keen to support links with Düsseldorf, Reading’s twin town in Germany. We regularly join forces with the Orchester der Landesregierung (OdL), either to perform concerts in Reading or in Düsseldorf. Recent joint performances include RSO’s family concert in April 2023 in the Concert Hall in Reading (where the programme included Gershwin’s An American in Paris and Williams’ music from Star Wars), and OdL’s 75th anniversary concert in September 2023 in the Tonhalle, Düsseldorf, (where the programme included Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and a selection of film music). Other joint events with OdL have enabled us to perform larger scale works such as Mahler’s mighty ‘Resurrection’ Symphony and Richard Strauss’ Alpine Symphony.


As an orchestra, we are also keen to encourage young performers. We hold an annual Young Musicians’ Competition, which is open to instrumentalists and singers of school age who live or study in the area and who have reached a standard at least equivalent to Grade 7 of the Associated Board. The winner receives a trophy and a cash prize and, if a suitable standard has been reached, the opportunity to perform as a soloist with the orchestra.


We are always keen to hear from potential new members, particularly string players. Rehearsals are held weekly on Thursday evenings in Caversham. For more details, see our Members’ page

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