Sunday, 19 June 2016


This is going to be a wonderful concert. We are really looking forward to this event and proud to be supporting such a great locally based charity such as Penny Brohn UK. We will be performing a stunning programme with our soloist, Sara Lovell (cello).

For programme, directions and ticket information details, please click HERE

Sara Lovell, Cello
[  About Sara Lovell ]
(Our soloist)

Sara began to play the cello aged seven, joining the National Youth Orchestra at thirteen. At the age of sixteen she was offered places at both the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music, but opted to study at the Royal Northern College of Music where she gained her G.Mus. with honours. From there she went on to study at the Royal College of Music, taking an Advanced Performers Course and gaining her Diploma RCM (teachers) with honours.

In Manchester, Sara studied with Raphael Sommer and in London with Joan Dickson, Nancy Green and later Bruno Schrecker. As a winner of the Norman Educational Foundation trust, she also played in numerous masterclasses both in England and abroad, notably with Ralph Kirschbaum, Zara Nelsova and Arto Noras.

Sara has played in concerts at the Lucerne festivals; at the International Cello Festival in Nemours, France and has performed as soloist with numerous orchestras. She has both recorded and broadcast live for radio, recorded for film and appeared in solo recitals and talks for festivals and music societies throughout the UK, Canada, the EU and Switzerland to wide acclaim, and currently works with several chamber ensembles. Sara has been teaching for thirty years and has an elite  practice in the South-West. She coaches students up to and including degree and diploma level, also giving talks, workshops and masterclasses.

Her first book, 'Cellotude - a Fast track to Brilliance', has already been highly acclaimed by the conductors Peter Stark and Marin Alsop, the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music, Chetham's School of Music and the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, and was published by Beautiful Books Ltd.

Sara produced her first CD in 2004, which resulted in a highly acclaimed double album release of the Bach Cello Suites in May 2005. She has been described as a 'musical dynamo' by Musical Opinion. Sara is in demand both as a soloist and a chamber musician, and has a wide knowledge of the mainstream cello repertoire. Her most recent recital was with the pianist Nicholas Oliver at St Georges Bristol.

Sara is also a talented artist working predominantly in representative acrylic paintings.

[   Why Penny Brohn UK?  ]

By Vivien Arthur 
(a friend of Sara Lovell's & a cellist in Bristol Symphony Orchestra)

"I was involved in Sara’s care last year and personally received superb support from attending Penny Brohn courses (both day and residential); the staff give equal care and support to friends and family caring for someone with cancer, and I found this invaluable and not available from the traditional hospital services. Even though I had been a nurse my whole career, I found helping someone through the cancer journey a real challenge as well as a privilege.

Sara discussed her wish to do a concert for Penny Brohn, and after Will and Pam had agreed to this, my friend Sarah Vesty (who has helped a great deal with the practical preparation) and myself discussed venues. We decided to use the beautiful United Reformed Church in Henleaze, and we are looking forward to a wonderful evening on the 25th June 2016. We have had incredible support in web design and advertising from Rachel Goodchild.

We so hope the church will be full to support the charity and Bristol Symphony Orchestra. Thank you."   Viv Arthur

[  Words from Sara Lovell  ]
(Cello Soloist and past cancer patient at Penny Brohn UK)

"I am so chuffed at being able to safely say I have passed the one year milestone, since being diagnosed with breast cancer and successfully treated with a combination of chemotherapy, two lots of surgery and radiotherapy daily for four weeks.

The wonderful staff at Penny Brohn helped me live through the cancer treatment with both practical support and a high level of emotional care. The Centre in Pill provides an environment which was (and is) an oasis of calm in those dark days. The building is stunning inside and the gardens are magnificent, in whatever weather. One feels cared for in a very, very special way.

I wanted to do something practical to support them (they rely totally on donations for their work) and it seemed ideal  (as a professional cellist) to perform a concerto with Bristol Symphony Orchestra to raise funds for Penny Brohn, and give pleasure to the audience by playing some lovely music.

I had previously worked with Will Goodchild, a superb conductor; so I approached him and asked if we could work together and arrange a concert. Without hesitation he gave me every support; and working alongside leader Pam Bell suggested a date (25th June 2016) when he and the orchestra could be available."   Sara Lovell

Sara Lovell, Cello 
[  Our Charity  ]

Penny Brohn UK have been successfully helping people with cancer for over 35 years, with their pioneering ‘Bristol Whole Life Approach’ They show people how to live well with cancer and take back control of their health and wellbeing –  before, during and after treatment.
Their range of services are free of charge to adults with a cancer diagnosis and their supporters. However, as a charity they rely on donations to fund their work, they provide equal support to those caring for people with cancer as well as the patients themselves.

To find out more concert information or to book tickets, please click here

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Bristol Symphony Orchestra and BBC Music Day | June 2016

Bristol Symphony at St George's Bristol - BBC Music Day | June 2016

We had a great Open Rehearsal last night at St George's Bristol. Thanks to everyone who came along to listen and watch. We were taking part in the nationwide events for BBC Music Day (BBC Music Day: connecting communities and generations in a celebration of music across the UK). 

Mamadou talking to the audience about the kora

We were rehearsing our Concerto for Kora and Orchestra, composed by our conductor, William Goodchild, and master kora player, Mamadou Cissokho. This piece will be premiered on Saturday 18th June at St George's Bristol, as part of a programme for The High Sheriff's Concert. The concerto was commissioned by Bristol's High Sheriff, Helen Wilde.

Remco Merbis from Pixillion also attended the rehearsal. Remco is currently making a short film of the collaboration between William and Mamadou. 

Audience members came on stage with Bristol Symphony at St George's, BBC Music Day | June 2016

William invited members of the audience onto the stage to sit amongst the orchestra. This proved really successful, with up to nine audience members at a time experiencing the rehearsal from a player's perspective.

Audience members joining on stage with Bristol Symphony at St George's BBC Music Day | June 2016

The BBC Music Day strapline is, For the love of music, and our Open Rehearsal certainly felt relaxed, with people popping in and out of the hall, joining us on stage and generally enjoying hearing an orchestra at work. 

Bristol Symphony at St George's BBC Music Day | June 2016

If you are interested in hearing the live performance of Concerto for Kora and Orchestra,
please click here for more information and to buy tickets.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Composer Dame Ethel Smyth

Composer Dame Ethel Smyth’s Serenade in D, 

to be performed by Bristol Symphony Orchestra at the High Sheriff's Concert

Saturday 18th June, 7.30pm at St George’s Bristol

Feminist is the first word that greets you on the Twitter feed of Helen Wilde, the High Sheriff of Bristol. This exactly explains why, when choosing the works for her concert to be performed by Bristol Symphony Orchestra on Saturday 18th June at St George’s Bristol, she wanted to include a work by Dame Ethel Smyth, one of our first ever feminists.

Dame Ethel was born in 1858 and already knew by the age of 12 that she wanted to compose and make music her life. Other daughters may have been cowed by their fathers. General Smyth refused her permission to go to Leipzig to study music but our heroine was so determined that she went on hunger strike at home to force her father to change his mind – which he did. 

Whilst studying in Leipzig, she met Dvořák, Grieg and Tchaikovsky, the latter saying of her work, ‘Miss Smyth is one of the few women composers whom one can seriously consider to be achieving something valuable in the field of musical creation.’ 

Dame Ethel may not be well-known to us today, but she really should be, as she was a most prolific composer of a wide range of works. She wrote six operas for which she also wrote the libretti, and choral works, including the greatly acclaimed Mass in D, orchestral and chamber music, piano and organ solos and many songs. The Serenade in D, which Helen Wilde has chosen, is a robustly lyrical and melodic piece which had its first performance in 1890 at The Crystal Palace. Both the public and the press loved it. For George Bernard Shaw it was ‘magnificent’ and in his view would ‘stand up in the biggest company.’

On her 75th birthday, her work was celebrated at the Royal Albert Hall in the presence of Queen Mary. Devastatingly however, Dame Ethel was completely deaf by then and could hear neither the music nor the audience’s great appreciation of it.

Dame Ethel’s fiery character also compelled her to become an active suffragette. In 1911, she paid the price for hurling a brick through the Colonial Secretary’s window, by

spending two months at His Majesty’s pleasure at Royal Holloway Prison. However, thanks to her prodigious talent, this did not stop her being made, only eleven years later, Dame of the British Empire by the same monarch, King George V.

Dame Ethel’s 95 year old great-nephew Bruce Davidson is full of regret that he cannot attend the concert but he vividly recalls what a ‘fiercesome’ person she was. Once when he was 12, he went to meet her off a train and was overcome by embarrassment at being asked extremely loudly what he was going to do with his life – Dame Ethel’s deafness meant that Bruce had to shout his replies. In 1942, two years before her death at the age of 86, Bruce was training at Sandhurst, and has memories of having lunch with her when she insisted on their enjoying ‘something medicinal’ – a bottle of white wine! Bruce’s son Andrew will be among the High Sheriff’s guests at the concert, providing a personal link back to this remarkable woman. 
Editorial written by Jane Krish

Serenade in D

In Dame Ethel’s own words: 

Because I have conducted my own operas and love sheep-dogs; because I generally dress in tweeds, and sometimes, at winter afternoon concerts, have even conducted in them; because I was a militant suffragette and seized a chance of beating time to The March of the Women from the window of my cell in Holloway Prison with a tooth-brush; because I have written books, spoken speeches, broadcast, and don't always make sure that my hat is on straight; for these and other equally pertinent reasons, in a certain sense I am well known."

To hear The March of the Women, click here.

Born: Ethel Mary Smyth, 23 April 1858, Sidcup, Kent, England

Father: Major-General John Hall Smyth C.B., Royal Artillery

Mother: Nina Struth, French

Siblings: fourth of eight children (six of them girls)

Partners: none 

Children: none 

Died: 8 May 1944, Woking, Surrey, England

Cause of death: pneumonia after 2 years of illness.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Concerto for Kora and Orchestra - Mamadou Cissokho and William Goodchild

Having completed the orchestral score for the Concerto for Kora and Orchestra, William Goodchild and Mamadou Cissokho spent a day at Christchurch Studios Clifton recording a model of the entire work. Using an electronic reproduction of the orchestral score, they recorded and overdubbed the kora solo part, and guide djembe and percussion parts. 

The work has its first full rehearsal on Monday 18th April. Joining the Orchestra and conductor Will, will be Mamadou (kora), David Oliver (world percussion) and two Senegalese drummers playing a variety of West African drums including djembe, dundun and congas.

Concerto for Kora and Orchestra has been commissioned by Bristol High Sheriff 2016/17, Helen Wilde. The work receives its premiere at the High Sheriff's Concert on 18th June at St George's Bristol

Above: Film-maker Remo Merbis who is documenting the
 collaboration between Mamadou and Will

Thank you to Rosa Fay for the Photos

Sunday, 13 March 2016


We have been nominated for the New Business Award at The Regional Awards

sponsored by Ebbw Media

Voting is now open and you can vote by clicking HERE

Or you can copy this link (below) to friends and family via email, Facebook, etc.

Copy and paste this link to ask other's to vote:

Thursday, 28 January 2016


What happens when one of our players turns up to a shoot without her instrument, but instead with a baby? 

When the baby is as cute as Anita's baby, why you include her in the shoot, of course!

Thank you to the photographer

Monday, 21 December 2015


Our Conductor has written an article for the BBC Two Blog about composing the music for a BBC2 Natural History programme.

21st and 27th December at 9 pm

Gordon Buchanan travels to the Democratic Republic of Congo to meet a family of rare Grauer's gorillas.
Read an article William wrote for the series BBC web page
 Composing the Score



We are pleased to announce that we now have a holding website, 
whilst the full website is being built.

The full website and branding is currently being built and designed. Watch this space!