About Oadby and Wigston Civic Orchestra

Our history

In 1965, following a chance conversation between Councillor Don Mobbs and Keith Smith, Wigston UDC decided to sponsor an orchestral concert in February 1966.  This took place in Bushloe School where good staging was available for an orchestra.  A small string ensemble, made up of the finest string players in Leicester and Leicestershire, was assembled by Keith Smith.  The leader was Lambert Wilson, principal violin tutor for Leicestershire County School of Music.  The event was a huge success and quickly led to a regular series of concerts in Wigston.   Woodwind and brass players were soon added to the string section which immediately widened the possible repertoire.

At times concerts were held in other venues; these included St Thomas’ Church and Abington and Guthlaxton School halls.  The concert series soon involved the inclusion of a wide variety of soloists who were engaged to perform with the orchestra; some were local musicians while others were already nationally established.  However, an ongoing policy to invite promising young performers from leading conservatoires, at the outset of their careers, has continued to the present day.  Indeed, a number of our young soloists have gone on to gain an international reputation.   They have included the soprano Sally Matthews and cellist David Cohen.

From the early 1970s, when Oadby and Wigston Councils combined to become a single administrative area, financial support continued for the orchestra up until the 1990s, but then general financial austerity forced cuts in grants for the arts.  For over thirty years the administration of the Civic Orchestra was superbly managed by David England, without whose support and expertise the ensemble could not have survived difficult financial times.   There have been others who have helped keep the Civic Orchestra going through both good and difficult times, but special recognition and thanks must be given to the wonderful orchestral musicians who have played over the years.  Without their ability and extraordinary support we could not have an orchestra.

In most seasons the orchestra plays a concert in an alternative venue in the Borough, though it is firmly based in Wigston College (formerly Guthlaxton College).  Here tiered staging and seating have made this a desirable performing venue.  Musically, it has always been an important feature of the Civic Orchestra’s programmes to perform a really wide-ranging choice of music.  Each season the repertoire includes established masterpieces, new works and popular programmes such as Viennese and ‘Prom’ concerts.  It is hoped to continue performing a similarly eclectic repertoire in future events.

A Look Back at OWCO's 2017-2018 concerts
    Our concert on 14th Oct 2017, at Wigston College, included the Trombone Concertino by Ferdinand David (soloist Savannah Bone), as well as works by Sibelius (King Christian II Suite) and Raff (Symphony No. 3 in F, 'In the Woods'). 
    9th Dec 2017, Wigston College - A performance of Handel's 'Messiah' with four highly acclaimed young soloists from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and a large section of Leicester Philharmonic Choir and friends, who had previously performed the work with our conductor Keith Smith on many occasions. 
    6th Jan 2018, Wigston College - Another of our Viennese Night programmes, including popular music by Johann Strauss and family; 
    24th March 2018, St. Thomas' Church, South Wigston - We had a programme of music from the classical era, including Haydn, Schubert and Mozart. 
    2nd June 2018, Wigston College - The English Programme of our Summer Prom Concert featured the world premiere of Terence Dwyer's "Wigston Suite". There was also Vaughan Williams' "London Symphony", a Flute Concertino by Geoffrey Tomlinson, soloist Jenny Brooks, and of course a rousing 'Prom' ending.

    A Look Back at our 2016-2017 season

    During the 2016-17 season, we had the following performances: 
    22nd October 2016, at Wigston College. Haydn's Concerto in G for Piano, Soloist Nikki Booth.  Also Weber's Euryanthe Overture and Borodin's 'In the Steppes of Central Asia'. 
    10th December 2016 at Wigston College. Emil Waldteufel's 'The Skaters' Waltz' ('Les Patineurs'); Borodin's Overture 'Prince Igor' ; and Neilson's Symphony No 1. 
    7th January 2017 at St Thomas's Church, South Wigston.  Our annual New Year Viennese and Operatic Evening. 
    4th March 2017 at Oadby Trinity Methodist Church. Our Baroque concert included several concertos by Vivaldi, among which were works for two and four violins, and the Flute Concerto 'La Notte', with soloist Elizabeth Rowan.  Also Bach's Violin Concerto in A minor, and the Viola Concerto by Telemann, performed by Michelle Falcon.  
    17th June 2017 at St Thomas's Church, South Wigston. Our summer concert, 'French Connection' featured John Mills performing Terence Dwyer’s Violin Concerto which is based on the story of Joan of Arc.  There was also the exquisite tone-poem ‘L’apres midi d’un faun’ by Debussy, Ravel’s famous ‘Bolero’ and the much-loved ‘Organ Symphony’ by Saint-Saens. Followers of the orchestra will know of our long-standing relationships with John and Terence, so we were delighted to have them in our programme.

    OWCO 2015-2016 concerts - a look back at our 50th season

    As 2016-16 was our fiftieth anniversary season, there were some changes to the usual schedule of concerts.  The first took place on October 24th 2015, a concert of Baroque music. It included concertos by Vivaldi, Telemann and Bach, and featured the famous Concerto for Two Viiolins in D minor.  See the photos on our Facebook page!

    Our entertaining annual ‘New Year’ Viennese Concert was brought forward to 12th December 2015 so as to allow good preparation time for the special 50th Anniversary event. 

    The memorable OWCO 50th Anniversary concert took place on 6th February 2016.  This was only one day different from the inaugural concert date of 5th February 1966!  Our programme for this special evening included Brahms’s Violin Concerto with John Mills returning as soloist, Wagner’s ‘Meistersinger Prelude’, Malcolm Arnold’s Scottish Dances and Terence Dwyer’s ‘Jubilee Symphony’. This was written for the Civic Orchestra’s 30th Anniversary and was revised specially for the 50th Celebration Concert. 

    Our Spring Concert, was on April 9th 2016, and included 'Overture on Russian themes' by Rimsky-Korsakov, Beethoven's 6th Symphony (Pastoral), and music from the Peer Gynt Suites by Grieg. Most notably we had Kaitlin Wild playing in Alexander Arutiunian's Trumpet Concerto in A-flat major. 

    The final concert of the 50th season, on June 11th 2016, was at a different venue, St Thomas' Church, South Wigston. Our Summer Prom Concert programme included the overture for 'Yeomen of the Guard' (Sullivan), Carmen Suite (Bizet) and Schubert’s 'Unfinished Symphony', not forgetting 'Jerusalem' and 'Pomp & Circumstance'. 7.30pm.