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Music Hire : We now have a large library of orchestral music available to hire. This includes music still in copyright and expensive to hire or purchase from publishers. Click here to download the full list and use the Contact Us page if you want to hire any of the pieces.

Who We Are :

Aylesbury Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1949 by Charles Pope, a former teacher at Aylesbury Grammar School, who was a major figure in local music, also setting up Aylesbury Choral Society, the Charles Pope Ladies' Choir and the former Charles Pope String Orchestra.

We have over 50 players, rehearsing every week at the Aylesbury Music Centre, who come together to perform, improve their musical ability, and spend time with like minded musicians.


Our Conductor : Ben Palmer

From the 2017/18 season, Ben Palmer is Chief Conductor of the Deutsche Philharmonie Merck. In February 2017 he celebrated ten years as Artistic Director of Covent Garden Sinfonia (formerly the Orchestra of St Paul's), which, under his leadership, has established itself as one of London’s most dynamic and versatile chamber orchestras. Acclaimed for his innovative and imaginative programming, he is in great demand as a guest conductor, both in the UK and abroad. He has made a speciality of conducting films live to screen, with performances of Psycho, Casablanca, Charlie Chaplin’s The Gold Rush, Neil Brand’s score for Hitchcock’s The Lodger, Peter and the Wolf, The Battle of the Somme, and The Snowman, in venues including the Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Cadogan Hall and the Roundhouse. Recent and future film with orchestra projects include The Gold Rush with the London Mozart Players, Home Alone with Royal Northern Sinfonia, The Snowman with Southbank Sinfonia and the Orchestra of Welsh National Opera, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial with Covent Garden Sinfonia in the Royal Festival Hall, a triple bill of Chaplin Mutual Comedies at the Proms at St Jude’s, and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis.

Recent guest conducting engagements include the BBC Singers, Aurora Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, the London Mozart Players, Southern Sinfonia, the Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin, the Orquestra Clássica do Sul, the Kazakh State Chamber Orchestra “Academy of Soloists”, the Kharkov Philharmonic Orchestra, and Oxford University Orchestra. As well as conducting his own concerts with the Royal College of Music Philharmonic and the period-instrument RCM Classical Orchestra, he is frequently invited to prepare the RCM Symphony Orchestra for conductors such as Bernard Haitink, Sir Roger Norrington, Jac van Steen, Maxim Vengarov, John Wilson and Thomas Zehetmair. He has worked closely with Norrington since 2011, acting as his assistant conductor for concerts, tours and recordings, and at the BBC Proms. Other orchestras he has conducted include the Gabrieli Consort & Players and Wroclaw Baroque Orchestra (whilst acting as assistant to Paul McCreesh), Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, and Britten Sinfonia.

His recordings include music by Antonio Lotti with chamber choir The Syred Consort on the Delphian label (selected as BBC Radio 3 Record Review’s ‘Disc of the Week’, and chosen as one of Presto Classical’s Top Ten CDs of 2016), a disc of music for strings (premiere recordings of Elgar, Malcolm Arnold and Robert Simpson), the DVD/Blu-ray recording of Neil Brand’s score for Hitchcock’s The Lodger for The Criterion Collection, and a recording of his own work, Bach Dreams, with the Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin on the Neue Meister label.

In addition to his work as a conductor, he is in great demand as a composer, arranger and orchestrator. Recent commissions include the Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin, the Haydn Society of Great Britain, Woking Choral Society and the English Music Festival. His music has been performed by such ensembles as Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, the City of London Sinfonia and the Fibonacci Sequence, in venues including the Royal Albert Hall, Cadogan Hall and St John's Smith Square, and as far afield as South Korea.

A trumpeter and composer by training, he studied music at the University of Birmingham, graduating with first class honours in 2003, staying on at Birmingham to complete an MPhil in composition with Vic Hoyland, before moving to London in 2005 to study at the Royal Academy of Music with composer Simon Bainbridge. He was made an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music (ARAM) in 2017, and is more than halfway through his lifetime ambition to conduct all 107 Haydn symphonies.

Our Leader : Mark Warner

Mark Warner started playing the violin at primary school, where he was taught by Susan Hallam through the Oxfordshire County Music Service. At the age of 12 he became the youngest member of the Oxfordshire County Youth Orchestra, which he went on to lead in his final year of membership, performing in concerts at both the Royal Festival and Royal Albert Halls. Whilst studying music at the University of Hull he took lessons from David Greed, the leader of the Orchestra of Opera North. Mark took part in the Orchestra’s student training scheme, through which he was privileged to work with such international conductors as Paul Daniel and Dmitry Sitkovetsky, and renowned soloists including Sir John Tomlinson and Dame Evelyn Glennie. After obtaining a first class honours degree he worked as a tutor within the music department at Hull University for a year, before moving to Aylesbury. After initially working as a peripatetic violin teacher for Oxfordshire, Mark changed career direction and trained as a computer programmer with a large consultancy in London. He worked for 14 years as Software Development Director for Prologic plc in Berkhamsted, while remaining actively involved in the local music scene, leading Dacorum Symphony Orchestra, Aylesbury Opera and Thame Sinfonia, as well as playing in many chamber music groups. Mark has now retrained as a teacher and is enjoying working as Director of Music at Chesham Preparatory School.


The Charles Pope Memorial Trust

The Charles Pope Memorial Trust is a grant awarding, charitable body, operating in the Aylesbury Vale area for the benefit of music students of all ages.  It was founded in 1983 in memory of Charles Pope, a former teacher at Aylesbury Grammar School, who made an outstanding contribution to musical life in Aylesbury and it is to him that several of Aylesbury's present music societies, including this orchestra owe their origin.

Small grants are available to assist with the cost of musical education. Applicants must have lived or been educated in the area administered by Aylesbury Vale District Council for 2 years or more and be able to demonstrate some musical competence. Applicants may be of any age and there is no fixed limit on family income.

The Trustees meet three times per year to consider applications.  All applications are considered on their individual merits, taking all financial and other circumstances into account.

Application forms are available from the address shown below and should be submitted by the end of October, middle of February or the end of May, in order for references to be taken up prior to the meeting.

If you would like to help the work of the Trust, please consider making a donation - the Trustees are very grateful for any help, large or small.  If you are a UK tax payer, it may be possible for the Trust to reclaim income tax on donations to further benefit the Trust's work (without the need for a Covenant).  For further information, or to make donation, please contact;

The Secretary
Charles Pope Memorial Trust
77, Regent Street
Leighton Buzzard