Orchestra da Camera was formed in 1957 by conductor Brian Priestman, with Kenneth Page as leader, to perform the rich chamber orchestra repertoire. Following the departure of Priestman to take up a conducting post in Canada at the end of 1964, the late Kenneth Page took over as Principal Conductor in addition to the role of Artistic Director. Joined by harpsichordist John Engleheart, they developed links with most of the major choirs and choral societies in the Midlands, many of whom still book the orchestra for their concerts, where a reputation for providing a high degree of co-operation and sensitive accompaniment has been gained.
During its long history, Orchestra da Camera has appeared at numerous concert venues and places of worship in the Midlands and beyond, including Birmingham Town Hall, Victoria Hall Hanley, Nottingham’s Albert Hall and Royal Concert Hall and the cathedrals of Worcester, Gloucester, Hereford, Peterborough, Lincoln, St. David’s, Exeter and Coventry.
In 1995 Orchestra da Camera was invited to become the orchestra in residence at Loughborough University, having previously held similar posts at the Universities of Aston in Birmingham and Warwick.
The orchestra has been fortunate to work with many distinguished soloists and conductors, including Bryn Terfel, Dame Felicity Lott, Nigel Kennedy, Julian Lloyd-Webber, Emma Johnson, Michael Collins, Michaela Petri, Nicholas Cleobury, Sir David Willcocks, Simon Preston and John Rutter.
A series of recordings are available on the Meridian label, including Schubert Symphonies, Haydn Violin Concertos, a collection of works by English composers entitled ‘The Banks Of Green Willow’ and a disc of works by the English composer John Jeffries.
A link with the Northamptonshire Composers’ Association has involved musicians from Orchestra da Camera working closely with the composers and playing in both chamber and orchestral compositions receiving their first public performance.
Orchestra da Camera has worked with many schools in educational projects, where composers have been commissioned to write works enabling children to take part in concerts, playing alongside members of the orchestra. We are currently in partnership with Bablake School where we provide musical workshop days for the wider community’s young musicians. The education projects we run are led by international artists such as Craig Ogden, Hans Nygaard, and Tasmin Little.