The History Behind Stoneleigh

  • Stoneleigh was a symphony orchestra for adults before the Second World War. In 1944, the members (and in particular Edward Gough, the founder) decided to form a junior section called Stoneleigh Junior Orchestra. This orchestra was intended for the children of the adult orchestra, and two of the early junior members were of course Edward Gough’s sons, Howard and Colin Gough. It was a small, select group of around 30 players.
  • The original orchestral society lapsed soon afterwards, outgunned by some of the newly established local symphony orchestras such as the Surrey Philharmonic . However, Stoneleigh Junior Orchestra was to prove much more resilient going from strength to strength in its early years.
  • The first concert was in 1944 and the orchestra thrived to such an extent that by 1951 they won a national competition to take part in a Music Festival, which was part of the Festival of Britain celebration, which they then also won.

Key developments

  • Moved from Stoneleigh to our new home in Wimbledon in 2003.
  • In 2005 the Training Orchestra was formed.

Musical Directors

One of the most remarkable facts about Stoneleigh Youth Orchestra is that in all its many years of existence it has only had 4 Musical Director/Conductors.There is something about the orchestra which gets into the bloodstream and becomes a way of life for those actively involved.

  • 1944 to 1965 - the Founder, Edward Gough held the baton and encouraged the players to perform in concerts and to take an active part in Music Festivals around the country.
  • 1965 to 1972 – Howard Gough took over and ran the orchestra, expanding and developing the repertoire, and bringing in professional soloists. However, in 1972 he decided to take a term’s sabbatical so looked for a stop gap conductor and the rest of the story is history!
  • 1972 – Adrian Brown travelled to a concert with Margaret Holter (then leader of Stoneleigh Youth Orchestra). His time at the Royal Academy of Music was coming to end so she casually suggested he apply to fill in as Conductor for SYO for a term. 40 years later Adrian Brown retired as Musical Director of the orchestra, having enjoyed triumph and challenges in almost equal quantities!
  • April 2013 - Robert Hodge succeeded Adrian Brown as Musical Director of SYO.

Concerts and Festivals

Concerts and festivals have always been part of the DNA of the orchestra. They are the climax of all the hard work entailed in learning and perfecting music.They are the moment when all the rehearsal time invested suddenly pays back and the orchestra rises to the occasion to delight their audience. They provide the buzz and excitement which is unique to performing at your best to a live audience.

Stoneleigh Junior Orchestra’s first concert was one year after it formed in 1945. Under Adrian Brown’s baton alone, SYO performed over 300 works by more than 120 composers in over 150 concerts both in the UK and abroad.

SYO’s record at major music festivals is also impressive. We took part in the Festival Of Britain under Edward Gough in 1951. The first competitive festival we entered was in 1976 in the Music for Youth Festival at the Fairfield Hall, Croydon which we won. Adrian recalled: “ We could not believe we had risen from rehearsing in a scout hut to performing the final movement of Dvorak’s New World Symphony in a large concert hall".

The School’s Prom followed and, in 1983, in the final of the National Festival for Music, Stoneleigh performed Stravinski’s Firebird Suite to rapturous applause and a glowing review from David Cairns of The Times who wrote of his delight “ to hear Stoneleigh Youth Orchestra responding to Adrian Brown's direction and playing with the utmost poetic sensibility.”

In 1989, at the Festival of British Youth Orchestras, SYO was awarded the Novello Youth Orchestra Award.


Past Concerts:

(click link here for programme information)

2018 St John's Smith Square    
2017 St John's Smith Square Dorking Halls  Hammersmith Town Hall
2016 Hampton School St John's Smith Square  ACS International School, Cobham
2015 St Paul's School, Barnes St John's Smith Square Royal College of Music
2014 Royal Academy of Music St John's Smith Square Royal College of Music
2013 Adrian's Farewell Concert Cadogan Hall 450 Hall, Hampton School Royal College of Music
2012 Royal Academy of Music 450 Hall, Hampton School Royal College of Music
2011 Royal Academy of Music 450 Hall, Hampton School Royal College of Music
2010 Royal Academy of Music

The Rose Theatre, Kingston upon Thames

Royal College of Music
2009 LSO St. Luke's
National Festival for Music for Youth, Birmingham Symphony Hall
St. Paul's, Wimbledon Ashcroft Technology Academy
2008 Hammersmith Town Hall Cadogan Hall St. Paul's, Wimbledon
2007 BBC Broadcasting House Radio Theatre St. John's, Smith Square St. Paul's, Wimbledon

Aims And Expectations


  • To provide an orchestral environment where each player’s musical skills and ability can be developed to their full potential.
  • To afford the opportunity to play and perform with other talented musicians and to work with a professional music team.
  • To extend players’ experience through workshops and other events which are fun, memorable and worthwhile.
  • To provide the life enhancing experience of touring abroad and performing for different audiences with different musical cultures.


  • To play with commitment and passion.
  • To attend rehearsals regularly; dedicated attendance is of the upmost importance and we expect all players to be at every rehearsal.
  • To practice outside of rehearsals.