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Wrexham Symphony Orchestra

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Wrexham Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1969 by the late Bryn Williams, then senior lecturer of Music at Cartrefle Teacher Training College in Wrexham. He gathered together a small number of local string players to put on a concert, and they were billed as the “Clywedog Ensemble”.

The gathering of musicians, conducted by Bryn Williams, and with local peripatetic violin teacher Keith Dawber as leader, was an apparent success, and after this initial concert they decided to expand the group to include woodwind and brass players. The Wrexham and District Orchestral Society was born, with its performing arm more commonly known as the “Wrexham Orchestra”. It was not until 1992 that the orchestra changed its name again, this time to the current “Wrexham Symphony Orchestra”.

Incidentally, it is difficult to determine whether the Wrexham and District Orchestral Society has ever had more than one “arm” other than its performing one! In the Orchestra’s constitution the name still exists but it is generally a redundant term. As it is, changes of county boundaries have made the words “and District” inconsequential – Wrexham is now also a County Borough, with the town of Wrexham at its centre. Meanwhile, older members still tend to refer to the orchestra affectionately as “Wrexham Orch”, which is reflected in the current website address and twitter feed.

The WSO has grown to its present day membership numbering over sixty players and regularly attracts professional guest conductors and outstanding soloists. The increase in membership has allowed the orchestra to undertake increasingly ambitious programmes of music and in increasingly important venues. Since 1997, the orchestra has been resident at the prestigious William Aston Hall in Wrexham. The year also saw the orchestra make a successful bid for funding to the Lottery unit of the Arts Council of Wales. The percussion equipment bought with this grant is now housed at the William Aston Hall, Glynd?r University.

The orchestra was given charitable status in the early 1990s, which has enabled it to raise money for many other charities. Many local charities have benefited – a full list can be seen in the Concerts section – and over the years many thousands of pounds have been donated. In 1999 the orchestra was presented with a community award for its charity work by British Steel.

In 2004 the WSO was inaugurated Orchestra in Residence at the NEWI William Aston Hall. The year also saw the orchestra presented with a workshop alongside players from the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and receive a grant towards music hire and expenditure from the Arts Council of Wales. 2006 saw the orchestra receive a second grant through the Welsh Amateur Music Federation (WAMF) which has enabled it to purchase a greatly needed “Clavinova” keyboard to enhance its repertoire and functionality.

The second decade of this century has featured in particular its Mahler series. With generous sponsorship from Betrinac, the orchestra hopes to complete the cycle of numbered Mahler symphonies within the decade. The highlight of the cycle so far has been a trip to the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester in May 2015 where the WSO played Mahler’s second symphony.

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