Bushey Symphony Orchestra currently has a core membership of approximately 35 professional, semi-professional and talented amateur musicians. It began life in 1975 as an ad hoc group of local musicians who called themselves the ‘Festival Orchestra’. Under the direction of David Pickett, the orchestra gave three concerts, including one as part of the Bushey Festival in July 1975. The musicians, however, felt they wanted something more regular and so the BSO was formed.
The BSO began as an evening class under the auspices of Cassio College and, with the support of Hertsmere Council, became independent in 1977. The BSO is now a wholly self governing organisation.
The orchestra gave regular concerts at St Peter’s Church, Bushey Heath, but when audiences began to grow in the 1990s, moved to The Grange Academy in the centre of Bushey Village, where it presents an annual season of Sunday matinée concerts.
The BSO has a reputation for promoting a wide and diverse repertoire which, in recent years, has included premiere performances of works by Christopher Gunning, Edward Longstaff and Cecilia McDowall. It has also developed long-standing relationships with an outstanding roster of concerto soloists including Benjamin Nabarro, Alice Neary and Gemma Rosefield.
Amazingly the BSO still has a number of members who took part in its very first concert. There have been only four regular conductors in the orchestra’s history – founder David Pickett (1975-83), Philip White (1983-85) and Simon Groves, associate conductor (1985-87). George Vass, the BSO’s current music director, was appointed in 1985 and, with the invaluable assistance of professional leader Martin Smith, has developed the orchestra into the highly-regarded performing ensemble it is today.