Sunderland Symphony Orchestra

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At a public meeting in October 1999, this vision was fulfilled by the formation of ‘The City of Sunderland Millennium Orchestral Society’ (CoSMOS). The new society became a registered charity, with the remit of developing a symphony orchestra, and possibly other musical activities. Rupert Hanson was appointed musical director and principal conductor, and he developed the orchestra in consultation with the society members. Other musical activities did not materialise and the name of the charity was changed to ‘Sunderland Symphony Orchestra’ in year 2006. In September 2009, following the death of Rupert Hanson, Ray Farr was appointed as the new Musical Director and Principal Conductor. After four years in the post, Ray Farr moved on to become Associate Conductor with the Grimethorpe Colliery Band and was succeeded by Paul Judson, a founder member of the orchestra, in January 2014. David McCourt was leader of the orchestra until September 2012, when Judith Thompson took over the position. David now plays cello with the orchestra. The orchestra performed its first full symphony – Dvořák's 9th (The "New World Symphony") – on April 7, 2001. The orchestra currently gives four concerts a year, usually held in the West Park United Reformed Church, Stockton Road, Sunderland. (Opposite Park Lane Transport Interchange and Metro). Performances have also been given at the Sunderland Empire Theatre, The Sage (Gateshead) and The Stadium of Light (Sunderland AFC). Programmes are lively and innovative and have included performances by a wide range of well-known instrumental and vocal soloists. Full details of music played, venues, future performances and other interesting facts can be viewed on the orchestra’s web site.

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