We are now looking forward to a week of fantastic summer music-making, freed at last from Covid-era restrictions. With mornings filled with music of all kinds – plenty for everyone – and afternoons gathering together three different orchestras, Holiday Orchestra will really be buzzing. Our Course Director, Russell Keable, has brought together a team of Holiday Orchestra’s excellent tutors who know how to make brilliant music with happy young people.

The Course will run from Monday August the 22nd to Thursday the 25th or Friday the 26th, depending on different sections. We shall be in our favourite venue, the West Road Concert Hall in Cambridge.

Do come, bring your friends and enjoy the incomparable experience of making music together – there really is nothing like it!

For all details, timetable and booking form, please now click here


Summer 2022 plans

How wonderful it was in April to be back in the West Road Concert Hall, hearing music all around and seeing so many happy children!
Two years ago, in March 2020, we had to cancel the Easter Course because of Covid and since then it has been a long hard struggle to keep our music alive. Now, at last, we have had a real face-to-face Easter Course and are looking forward to a big beautiful Summer Course. If you are aged between 7 and 18, do join us and be part of live, exciting, shared music of so many different kinds. The dates are August 22nd -26th.
The programme will be announced as soon as we are sure of it, but you can see the kind of things we do if you read further on this website.

Come to Holiday Orchestra and ‘Make Music, Make Friends’!


Please come and join in with us

Dear Holiday Orchestra families

It’s lovely to see so many children booked for our morning course next week. There are still spaces so it’s not too late to book, here.

But we’d like to draw your attention to our afternoon sessions, and particularly the family events. The number of families booked for these so far will struggle to make a happy sound and would really like you to join them and swell their numbers. The weather forecast for next week isn’t great, so please replace your outdoor plans with our sunny atmosphere for a few afternoons! For the family fun sing on Monday and the percussion party on Wednesday you just need to bring yourselves and your enthusiasm. For the folk tune session, if you or your children play instruments which you can bring that’s great but if not don’t worry, come along as singers anyway. Remember too that for our purposes “family” means a specified adult with one or more children aged 6+, so bring your children’s friends along too.

The booking form for afternoon sessions is here. If you’d like to book it would help us if you could fill in the form by the end of Thursday – we need this for the family fun sing as it’s on the first day of the course so the tutor needs definite numbers before the weekend; for the other sessions it’s helpful but less essential.

We look forward to seeing you next week, and to playing and singing with you.

Fiona Rutter
Bookings Secretary


Booking open for Easter 2022

As promised although a few days later than we hoped, booking is now open for our two Easter courses. The two course structures and the difference between them is described below. For full details of each course and a booking form please click here for the morning course and here for the afternoon. We look forward to seeing you at either or both.


Plans for Easter 2022

Hello to all friends of Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra.

After the severe disappointment of losing our Christmas Course to the fast-spreading but not-yet- understood “omicron” variant of Covid-19, we are determined to produce an Easter Course of similar quality.

Those of you who are familiar with Holiday Orchestra from before the pandemic will remember that our Easter Courses cater slightly more for the younger children because many of the older ones have public exams in the summer term and cannot spare the time for Holiday Orchestra. Traditionally, therefore, there have been busy mornings but no afternoon sessions and no full orchestras. This time we have been fortunate to be able to book the West Road Concert Hall for four full days and have decided to run two courses. One will be in the mornings, similar to the one we lost at Christmas. The other will be in the afternoons, very different, with separate booking and fees and with room for some participation by parents and carers, thus allowing accompanied adults to taste a little of the Holiday Orchestra magic. Details are still to be confirmed but it should include a Grade 2 – 5 orchestra, a recorder consort and several one-off events. We hope in this way to be able to fill some of the gaps left by Covid mitigation rules and perhaps also to achieve a better financial outcome. We think these afternoons should be great fun and will help us all to move back towards pre-Covid normality. The mornings, of course, will be for children only, and will be the mixture of happiness and excellence that we always aim for. The wonderful David Minchin will be our Course Director.

The Easter Course(s) will run from the 4th to the 7th of April so do put these dates in your diary. Full details and booking forms will be available on or close to the 20th of February. All members will be informed by email when the booking opens.

Looking forward to seeing you once again at West Road,

yours, Lydia Hill (Chairman).


Christmas course cancelled

Dear Holiday Orchestra members, parents and carers,

It is with enormous regret that we have to inform you that our 2021 Christmas Course, due to start next Monday, has now been cancelled. We are very sorry to have to let so many people down and the decision was very finely balanced. The Committee spent two hours of argument and analysis of the dangers and problems caused by the current runaway surge of the omicron Covid virus before being obliged by the very shortness of time (only three days) to come to a firm decision.

The Committee, the tutors and the Music Director have all found it painful to have to worry about the safety of so many children, tutors and all their families while at the same time wanting to provide music and happiness for young people.

We are offering you all a complete refund, although donations would be very helpful. We cannot offer to keep your payments for a future course as it makes our accounts too complicated. There will, barring a further emergency, be a Holiday Orchestra Course at Easter.

West Road Concert Hall has very generously offered to waive our fee in the event of cancellation, and the tutors, as stated on their contracts, will receive half of their normal pay. We are hoping to get some money from the Government to tide us over this difficult time.

Our sincere apologies to you all and please do come back to Holiday Orchestra as soon as we all can meet in reasonable safety,


Lydia Hill and the Committee of Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra Association.

A few practicalities:

  1. We will set up a form to capture the information needed for refunds. Please bear with us as we get this ready, we will send out a link as soon as possible. Refunds have to be processed one by one by our treasurer and she has a job and a family, but we will be as quick as we can. If anyone needs their refund urgently to pay for alternative childcare please email me and we will sort something out.
  2. If you have not already done so, please email to confirm you have seen this message. We want to be sure that nobody turns up on Monday to an empty building, and we will phone people on Sunday if we haven’t heard from them, but the fewer phone calls we have to make the better.

Bookings open for Christmas 2021


Hello to all members and friends of Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra.

After our cautious and successful reopening in the summer we are now very happy to be announcing our Christmas Course. Making music together is what Holiday Orchestra is here for, of whatever variety we can provide. The magic of music was plain to see (and hear!) in the Summer Course, and with four full days and the Christmas/New Year spirit we expect December’s course to be even more exciting and rewarding. Russell has assembled a brilliant team of tutors, full of musical enthusiasm.

There is plenty for everyone to do, but numbers are still limited by West Road’s Covid Safety policy, so please now look at the Course Information Document and book up for the unique experience of Holiday Orchestra.

Hoping to see you there,

Lydia Hill, Chairman.


Summer 2021 course summary

Holiday Orchestra has held its first real-live course since Christmas 2019, and what an emotional reunion it was! Inevitably there had to be compromises in the light of the risks from Covid but nevertheless we had six days of music-making and a wonderful feeling of re-awakening after a long sleep.

Our next course will be Christmas 2021, and we fully intend this to be another real-live course, preferably even closer to our pre-pandemic ways of doing things but always with due regard for the safety of children and adults alike.

So save the date now for four days at West Road with Russell Keable on the podium:

December 27th – 30th, 2021.

Together we can see out this year in style

Lydia Hill.


Bookings now open for Summer 2021

Dear Parents, Carers and Members of Holiday Orchestra. we are now very happy to announce our plans for this year’s Summer Course.

Our guess is that some precautions for Covid safety will still be advisable and since the West Road site belongs to the University of Cambridge we are following their current rules for occupancy.

Two big decisions have been made: first, regretfully, to have no presentations at the ends of the course (always very crowded); and second, in order to accommodate as many children as possible, despite limited occupancy, we will run two courses of three days each, August 23 – 25 and 26 – 28, which will be almost identical.

We are also trying to minimise unnecessary mixing of the children while still offering a good range of opportunities for making music together, and to this end have devised a streaming system.

The streams (red, green and blue) are based on levels of expertise on orchestral instruments, more or less corresponding with our pre-Covid groups of Training Strings/Band (Red Stream), Intermediate Strings/Band (Blue Stream) and Upper Strings/Band (Green Stream). Each participant will therefore belong to a stream and their mornings will consist of three music sessions with short breaks in between. They will have their instrumental group, a choir, and a choice of five activities for the remaining session.

As explained above, we are running these mornings as two courses of three days each. The difference between Course 1 and Course 2 will be in the afternoons when we will run our full orchestras. Course 1 afternoons will be for Lower Orchestra and Course 2 afternoons for Upper Orchestra.

We are sorry not to be able to provide a stream for children who do not yet play an instrument to Red Stream level – there is simply not enough space. Such children may apply to the Red Stream in hopes of joining the choir and the 5x activity choice but will have to be on a waiting list until we have some idea of numbers.

If you don’t mind which Course you join, you can leave it to Fiona to allocate your place
according to numbers.

We really hope that within the restrictions and uncertainties we shall see the spirit of Holiday Orchestra inspiring children to make music together and heal some of the pain of the last 18 months.

For more information, please read


We are looking forward to summer

This is a brief update to let you know that our summer course will take place from Monday 23rd to Friday 27th August, and will be in-person at West Road Concert Hall.

We are not yet sure whether we will be able to include all the activities we are used to, and whether there will be any extra restrictions on numbers or changes to the timetable – we need to wait for guidance from the venue and elsewhere before we can know what is possible and safe.

In the past we have opened booking for summer courses around the third week in June.  This year it is likely to be later, though it should still be within the Cambridgeshire school term.  But in the meantime you have the dates, so please don’t book anything else that will clash!

We are very much looking forward to seeing you all again and making music together.

Fiona Rutter
Bookings Secretary, on behalf of the Committee



Welcome to Holiday Orchestra’s Easter Course, April 6th – 9th 2021. Once again Russell Keable has put together an online course for musical fun and inspiration even while we cannot yet get together for ‘normal’ Holiday Orchestra. (A date for your diaries: the Summer Course, for which we have great hopes, will run from August 23rd – 27th at West Road).
For Easter, while still virtual, we have a selection of bands, strings, choirs and jazz. For all details and booking information please visit


Easter 2021 plans

A Happy New Year to all Holiday members and friends. May 2021 bring us a safe return to normal Holiday Orchestra.
We were very proud of our Christmas ‘virtual’ Course with bands, string groups, choirs and jazz. Although it is a pale reflection of our usual happy, bustling courses full of busy children, it is for the time being the best thing to do. Unless a miracle happens we shall again be ‘virtual’ at Easter and our amazing tutors will delight and inspire from a distance via small screens. I am sure our Easter Course will have something for everyone, so look out for information and booking forms around half-term.
Best wishes,
Lydia Hill, Chairman.


Booking now open for Christmas course

Welcome to Holiday Orchestra’s Christmas Course, 28th – 31st Dec. 2020.

Our Course Director for this online Christmas Course is Russell Keable and he has produced an amazing set of ‘zoom’ activities for musical fun and enjoyment during the Christmas holidays.
We have bands, strings, choirs and jazz, so for all details and booking information please visit



Hello to all friends of Holiday Orchestra.
Life with SARS-CoV-19 is still a life without personal contact, and so we must continue to make music at a distance. With this in mind we have put together a course for the Christmas holidays with as much interaction as our tutors can invent. It will all be ‘live’ teaching on ‘Zoom’ with an accent on fun and participation.

There will be two levels each of band groups, string groups and choirs. These sessions will be for one hour each on all four days.
There will also be two jazz workshops for one hour each on the middle two days.
The jazz, strings and band Zoom groups will include optional individual recordings, probably audio-only, to be made during the course as the tutors will explain.

Full details, other information and booking forms will be available soon and we hope you will find much to cheer up your Christmas holiday.
Lydia Hill.


Summer 2020 summary

Holiday Orchestra’s summer 2020 season is now over. We have enjoyed a brilliant Junior
(zoom) choir, an upbeat Grade 5 Theory taster course and finally the triumph of the Young
Person’s Guide to Holiday Orchestra. I think Henry Purcell would be really proud if he could
hear his music played by 76 children, all recorded separately but all aware that they were part
of a greater whole.
Many, many thanks are due to everyone who has made it possible for Holiday Orchestra to
come together at this difficult time. We have had to learn a lot about virtual orchestras, zoom
choirs and live zoom teaching and also how to handle all this by website and email but it has
really been worth it.
Thanks therefore to Russell Keable, Stephen Eglen, Josh Kemp, Kirsty Body, Rebecca
Duckworth, all the other tutors, the Holiday Orchestra Committee and all the parents and their
wonderful children for keeping music alive with this project.
Holiday Orchestra will continue to do whatever is possible according to events and
developments. If we have to stay ‘virtual’ for a while we will, but will also take the first
opportunity to meet in reality and make music together.

With best wishes from all of us,
Lydia Hill, Chairman.


Booking now open for Summer 2020 courses

Here it is!! Holiday Orchestra’s programme for Summer 2020!!

Booking is now open for all three of our online offerings. For stand-alone information and booking forms for each of these projects, please follow the links.

For ‘A Young Person’s Guide to Holiday Orchestra’ – our virtual orchestra to be assembled from recordings made at home by individual children, with a tutorial video and downloadable parts for all levels of orchestral instruments and recorders, please visit

For Kirsty Body’s ‘Grade 5 Theory: The Basics’ – a 4×1 hour course over 4 days via Zoom, covering the basics of the Grade 5 Theory syllabus and including a worksheet, please visit

For Rebecca Duckworth’s ‘Junior Zoom Choir’ – a one hour explosion of vocal fun, please visit

Please note: the two Zoom projects necessarily have number limits so we apologise in advance to anyone who is eventually disappointed. However, Holiday Orchestra will be back at full strength as soon as Covid-19 allows. In the meantime we hope you will enjoy these online projects, making music together while apart. Now follow the links, sign up for some music, and we’ll see you again soon.

Best wishes, from Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra Association.


Possibilities for 2020

Dear friends of Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra

Holiday Orchestra is watching and waiting for an opportunity for us all
to make music together once again. There are, of course, many problems.
This year’s summer course in late August cannot go ahead so we are
looking at possibilities for distance participation. We would like to
organise a ‘virtual orchestra’, where one piece of music is chosen,
parts for all instruments and various levels of difficulty can be
downloaded, parents of individual children can send us a recording
(with or without video) of them playing their part, and we will put it
together to make an orchestra. This requires considerable time,
expertise and sophisticated equipment, which we might not be able to

Failing this, we could go for the simpler alternative of just asking
parents and carers to help children in various categories to make
recordings of their solo playing of any music they really love, with
video if possible, to send them to us and we will make a
‘presentation’of these solo offerings. This of course loses the
‘togetherness’ that is at the heart of Holiday Orchestra, but music
must go on, and combining individual performances to create a group
offering may be the next best thing in these difficult circumstances.
We will let you know in good time which way Holiday Orchestra is

Then, in hopes that schools will be running, that we won’t be in the
middle of a second peak, and that the fear of being told to
self-isolate in the event of possible contact will not be too acute, we
are thinking of the possibility of a single ‘orchestra day’ in the
October half-term holiday. Also we really hope to be able to run
something like a normal Christmas Course, sadly probably without
choirs. Both of these possible events require large numbers of people
being together indoors, which may still be impossible. However, even an
outdoor ‘percussion day’ would be an enjoyable release of musical

We will return to full strength one day, and even if your children are
taking a bit of a musical break, there will be a place for all of us at
Holiday Orchestra next year. Our message of ‘Make Music, Make Friends’
will not be lost.

With very best wishes,

Lydia Hill, Chairman of Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra Association


Summer 2020

To all friends of Holiday Orchestra:
As you can imagine, it is impossible for us to run or plan a Holiday Orchestra course under the current regulations for the control of the COVID 19 epidemic. We have hopes for some kind of musical get-together in late summer for our children and young people but of course that will depend on many things. If anything musical does become possible we will let you all know as soon as we can be reasonably sure.
Meanwhile, I hope you are all managing to make some music in your lives; mankind has never flourished without music. Holiday Orchestra will be back before long, and with renewed energy!

Wishing you all well,
Lydia Hill, Chairman.


Easter 2020 cancellation

Dear Parents and Carers, members of Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra,

We are very sorry to have to say that following the developments of the
Covid-19 virus outbreak we feel we have no alternative but to cancel this
Easter’s Course. We see no possibility of keeping everyone safe, so we must
join the huge number of organisations in temporarily shutting down. Apart
from direct concern for Holiday Orchestra staff, children and their
families there is also our responsibility to delay spread within the
population so that the NHS will be able to look after more people overall.

As far as we know, this is the first time that Holiday Orchestra has had to
cancel a course in its 67 year history and we have every intention of
coming back as soon as possible. We will have to watch forecasts when
planning for the Summer and will keep you all informed via email and the

Many of you have already booked places for this Easter Course and you will
be contacted by email concerning repayment of fees. The Committee have
agreed that all tutors who had already been booked for this course should
be paid in full.

This is a difficult time and maybe represents a new normality. However, the
importance of music is greater than ever in sustaining the human spirit, so
make as much music as you can and come back to Holiday Orchestra at the
first opportunity.

Look after yourselves,

Lydia Hill (Chairman), David Minchin (Course Director) and Russell Keable
(Music Director)


Bookings open for Easter 2020

Hello to all Holiday Orchestra people.

Our Easter Course is now fully organised and we have lots of exciting
things to offer. As always at Easter we cater more for the younger
children – the older ones are supposed to be working for their exams
(!) – so the course runs from 9.30am to 1.20pm. We shall be at The
Perse School’s Performing Arts Centre from Monday 6th April to
Thursday 9th April, in very pleasant surroundings and usually with
plenty of parking. Our Course Director is the ever-popular David
Minchin and he has gathered a brilliant team of tutors. On Wednesday
8th April at 1.30pm the djembe drumming sections will be presenting
their work to parents and carers and on Thursday 9th April the main
presentations will be in the afternoon.

As always we have our core activities of string groups, bands and choirs
plus many other things of note. We are delighted that our folk-dancing
specialists, after last year’s first-time great success, have agreed to
come back and do it all again – such fun, such good exercise and so good
for the sense of rhythm. Recorders will be taught in two ways: the usual
two groups of experienced players and also a new group for absolute
beginners. This is necessarily a small group! Please bring a named
descant recorder, although we have a few we can lend. Our taster
instrument this time is the viola – the butt of many an orchestral joke,
which only shows how important it is. More mellow than the violin,
easier to carry than the ‘cello, not usually required to do the scary
stuff like the violins, and always welcome in an orchestra, the viola is
an instrument to be proud of. Come and try it and fall in love.

As you know, we depend very much on Parent Helpers to keep our
child/adult ratios straight, to help with the registers and to help deal
with any problems that may arise. We have a wonderful team of people who
come back willingly time after time and have become very much part of
Holiday Orchestra. However, we would like to encourage new people to
give it a try. No musical knowledge is needed but we always try to
accommodate people’s preferences for particular sections. We also have
tea, coffee and biscuits…..

On a sterner note, at our last course one of the presentations was
seriously disrupted by a noisy toddler running about. This is not really
fair on the children who have worked so hard and behaved so well all
week. If you have a small child who might become bored, please sit at
the back of the auditorium and make a swift exit with the child if
things become difficult. Thank you.

Looking forward to another happy time of music-making, we hope to see
you there.

Lydia Hill, Chairman of Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra.


Bookings now open for Christmas 2019

Hello to everyone supportive of Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra.

We are very happy to present the programme for our Christmas course which is as full of good things as a Christmas stocking! We have not one but two maestros (maestri?) to inspire us – Russell Keable, our wonderful Music Director will be running the course, while Finan Jones, who was so popular last year, will be conducting the Orchestra and tutoring the bands.

Meanwhile, every space around the West Road Concert Hall will be filled with Holiday Orchestra activity. Stu Hanna will bring us more folk music and some ukuleles, Stephanie Reeve will be directing a saxophone choir and we also plan to offer taster sessions on the French horn. The horn is arguably the hardest of the brass instruments to play but in return it makes a sound of ethereal beauty and purity. As always, there will be three string groups, three bands, two choirs, percussion games, gamelan, recorders and the Christmas orchestra. The orchestra is planning to play Stravinsky’s thrilling Firebird Suite and our very own commission Hogmanay by Kelvin Towse, combining orchestra and choir. We shall be needing some adult singers!

A few housekeeping points. Firstly, the general register, for signing in and out of the building, is of vital importance for tracing every child, for instance in the event of a fire. Even if you are only going out for half an hour, please sign out and then sign in again. Otherwise a firefighter might risk their life looking for a child within a burning building when in fact that child is safe elsewhere. Secondly, food mess on the floor is sometimes a problem for the West Road cleaner. Please do ask your child to be careful. Thirdly, although folk music in different parts of the world uses any and every instrument, we have to say that Holiday Orchestra folk sessions cannot include brass instruments nor saxophones.

The course is spread on both sides of New Year – 30th and 31st December plus 2nd and 3rd January. There can’t be a better way of starting 2020, so do come and join us at West Road for our Christmas Course 2019/2020.

Lydia Hill
Chairman, Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra

Please sign up, or just browse the course schedule, at:


Christmas 2019 bookings opening soon…

Holiday Orchestra is looking forward to Christmas! Booking for our festive course, plus details of all we shall be offering, will appear here and be sent to all our members close to the half-term week. Not long now!Lydia Hill

(Some parts of the website are password-protected just for the CHOA team whilst the website is updated in preparation for the next bookings.)



After a sunny Springtime course at Easter, Holiday Orchestra is now making plans for the Summer course, August 27th – 31st. Full information will appear here and also be emailed to all members soon after the Whitsun half-term.


Bookings open for Easter 2019

Hello once again to all members and friends of Holiday Orchestra.
Our Easter Course is now set up and ready to go. We are very pleased to be going for a
second time to the Perse School’s Performing Arts Centre, Hills Road, which proved last
summer to be such an excellent venue for us. There is plenty of room, both indoors and
out, including a lovely auditorium and an airy foyer with gallery. There is also a spacious
loft which is the best space yet found for Kirsty Body’s Djembe Drumming and her ‘Move
and Sing!’ We shall have two trombone tasters, one for children with Grade 3+ on any
instrument, and one for brass players with Grade 4+. The trombone is an instrument
unlike any other (except perhaps the swanee whistle!), with the loudest voice in the
orchestra and yet a subtlety of tone and pitch. An instrument to fall in love with.
Alongside, of course, the essential string groups, bands, choirs and recorders we are
pleased to welcome two new initiatives. A new choir, ‘Choral Pops’, aimed at 9 year olds
and over, will sing exciting arrangements of popular and jazz classics. Meanwhile, getting
the whole body moving in time (and burning off some of that holiday energy), we have a
folk dance session which should be great fun.
Russell Keable will be our Course Director and we run from Tuesday 9 April to Friday 12
April. I am assured the weather will be glorious for outdoor breaks – there is a large
grassed area with seats and tables – and there is also a huge car park!
Come and “make music, make friends” – there is nothing to beat making music together for
fun, excitement and a great sense of achievement.
Looking forward to seeing you there,
Best Wishes,
Lydia Hill, Chairman of Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra Association



Christmas has come and gone and with it a very happy Holiday Orchestra course. The next course will be in the Easter holidays, 9th to 12th of April, at the Perse School, Hills Road. Full information will be available around half-term.


Bookings open for Christmas 2018

Hello and welcome again to Holiday Orchestra.

Our plans are now ready for the 2018 Christmas Course which we hope will be as exciting as always. We have had to be somewhat creative with the timetable so please take the time to familiarise yourself with the solution we have found!

Avoiding Christmas, Boxing Day, Sunday morning and the evening of New Year’s Eve, while needing four days for the course, we have decided to go for three whole days (Thursday 27th, Friday 28th, Saturday 29th) and two half days (late Sunday 30th and early Monday 31st). All sections will run for the first three days, then only the ‘lower’ sections will rehearse and give their presentations on the Sunday and only the ‘upper’ sections will do theirs on the Monday. Some children, of course, will be in both types of sections and will therefore be needed on both half days but many will not. Everyone will have the full Holiday Orchestra experience!

Other aspects of the timetable include a lunchtime presentation by the jazz groups on the Saturday and our AGM, also on the Saturday at 11 am in the foyer. All parents and carers are most welcome. We would like to hear your views, questions and suggestions.

Some points to note from the Summer Course are: the need for instrument cases to be named (someone always takes the wrong one home); and a reminder not to overestimate your child’s current level of expertise. Children feel very discouraged if the music is too difficult for them but the tutors have to choose music according to the standard stated on the booking form. So please do check these standards.

On a lighter (or deeper) note, we are offering a tuba taster session for the first time. What an instrument! If you want to learn the basics of Tubby the Tuba book early, there are only 10 places. For folk music, we are sad to say that our wonderfully versatile Iain Mann has moved to Edinburgh but we are delighted to have found Holly Cook who will bring a fresh approach to our folk music sessions. Her offer of ‘Folk Around the World’ sounds really exciting to anyone interested in world music.

Christmas Holiday Orchestra is always great fun and a refreshing way to fill the gap between Christmas and New Year. With David Minchin as Course Director, we are sure it will be as musical as ever. Hoping very much therefore to see you at the West Road Concert Hall between Thursday 27th and Monday 31st December,
Lydia Hill,
Chairman, Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra



Holiday Orchestra is now resting after a successful summer course in a new venue. West Road was being refurbished so we took ourselves off to The Perse School’s beautiful new Performing Arts Centre where we were made very welcome. Our next course will be at West Road, December 27th to 31st, and information and booking forms will be available (and emailed out) around half-term.

Best wishes,

Lydia Hill, Chairman.


Bookings open for Summer 2018

Welcome again to Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra.

We are now ready with details of our 2018 Summer Course which we are sure will be exciting, friendly and musically rewarding for all concerned.

The first thing to note is that the West Road Concert Hall is undergoing refurbishment and so we have moved to The Perse Upper School in Hills Road (CB2 8QF). They have recently built themselves a new Performing Arts Centre and Holiday Orchestra will be taking it over for the duration of this course. It is a lovely venue with some excellent spaces and a large outdoor area for sunny breaks, but we have had to rethink some of our procedures. In particular, the seating in the Hall is less than at West Road, which in itself is barely adequate for the presentations, so we have decided to have three presentations instead of two and to divide the performing groups between them so that all families will be able to enjoy their children’s performances. The first two presentations will be on the fourth day and we shall decide the best way to distribute the groups when we know numbers of children and families.

Traffic, transport and trains being what they are, we would like to encourage car sharing without falling foul of the GDPR! We can put a list on the notice board at the course for people to register any interest. As for the Course itself, we have all our best summer offerings including four choirs, two jazz groups, Upper and Lower Orchestras, Grade 5 Theory, ukuleles, recorders, ocarinas, djembe drums and double basses! The stage at The Perse is not wide enough for the numbers who usually play in the Lower Orchestra which will have to be capped at 70, so we now also have ‘Pete’s Ukulele Jam’ (in a distant part of the building!) running at the same time to provide fun and creativity for some of the older children. Ukuleles are provided, but children may also bring their usual instruments. All this activity is centred, of course, on the bands and string groups at three levels each. The buzz, as always, will be tremendous. With Russell Keable as Course Director and many of our most experienced tutors, we know that Holiday Orchestra will continue its tradition of fun, community and excellence within an impressive new venue.

We hope to see you there from Tuesday 28 August to Saturday 1 September.

With best wishes for a musical summer,

Lydia Hill, Chair of Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra



Hello everyone. Holiday Orchestra is now planning for the Summer Course. This will be at The Perse Upper School in their new Arts Centre and will run from August 28th to September 1st. Timetables and booking forms will be ready around the end of half-term – as soon as everything has been finalised. Wishing you a good summer and hoping to see you for a musical week at the end,

Holiday Orchestra.


Bookings open for Christmas 2017

Hello to all members and friends of Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra.

The days are getting shorter and winter is on its way but Holiday Orchestra is ready to see out 2017 with another brilliant festive course. When Christmas is over and New Year not yet arrived, we shall be making music and having fun at West Road Concert Hall. With David Minchin as Course Director, Steve Bingham as orchestral conductor/senior string tutor, and a fantastic line-up of tutors and activities, we are sure to have something to offer to every musical child and young person. From Percussion Games with Anthony Paul and Folk for Fun with Iain Mann, through strings, bands, choirs and many other sections all the way to Symphony Orchestra, there is a huge range of interests and expertise. The Orchestra will be playing Marquez Danzon no.2, which is a South American piece, made famous by the Simon Bolivar Orchestra from Venezuela.

This time, our taster instrument is the bassoon, the lowest of the woodwind and an instrument of great character. Be warned, we can only manage a group of 10, so please book very early and be prepared to be disappointed if we are already full.

One word: our Summer Course was long, busy and exciting, and we did have some problems with excited children. Our Child Behaviour Policy directs us to telephone parents if necessary, but we much prefer not to have to do so. Therefore, to avoid having any more monkeys balancing on the auditorium balconies, please would all parents and carers impress on their children that safety for all and consideration for others are of paramount importance. Holiday Orchestra adults are acting in loco parentis and must be listened to.

Meanwhile, choose an action-packed programme of music from around the world and join us at West Road Concert Hall from Wednesday 27th to Saturday 30th December. As our unofficial slogan says: “Make Music, Make Friends”.

Lydia Hill, Chair, Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra.



Holiday Orchestra is now resting after a truly amazing Summer Course. Our project to invest the Suter Family Trust money, together with that from the winding-up of the Sine Nomine Choir, to commission a piece of music from Maurice Hodges for choir and orchestra and to present it at a Gala Concert was a big event for Holiday Orchestra but succeeded brilliantly. Many thanks to the donors, to Maurice and Thanea Hodges, Russell Keable, SmolOrch, and all the children. The collection for three children’s charities, as per Grade1athon, raised over £600. We shall soon be finalising arrangements for the Christmas Course, 27-30th December and we hope to see you there. Full details at the end of half-term week.

The Committee.


Summer 2017 course

We look forward to seeing you all at the course this week. If you are looking to remind yourself of the timetable, please consult page 2 of the Booking Form Summer 2017.

Our mobile phone number during course hours only is 07930 930049. Please note that this phone is switched off for the other 352 days of the year!


Summer 2017 course now full.

Due to the large numbers of bookings we have already received for all sessions, we regret that we cannot now accept any more bookings for our summer course. We apologise to anyone who has missed out this time, and hope to see you instead at our Christmas course beginning on 27th December. If you have submitted a booking in the last few days, we will contact you individually.


Bookings open for Summer 2017

Hello to all Holiday Orchestra people and welcome to our Summer Course, 2017.

We have planned a huge range of music to please children and young people aged from 7 to 18. Our core activities, bands, string groups, choirs and orchestras, as always form the heart of the programme, with jazz, recorders, gamelan, ukuleles, djembe drumming, music games, music theory, brass workshop and double-bass tasting giving something for everyone to fill their time with music. The Music Theory section, given by the incomparable Kirsty Body, will, as last year, cover the basic subjects of the Grade 5 exam but cannot, in the time, do everything. The Course Director will be Russell Keable, and the dates are August 21st to 24th for the lower sections, plus the next day, the 25th, for the upper sections.

One very exciting development this year is our new commission. We are very grateful to have been given a considerable sum of money by Alison and Alan Suter, following the winding-up of the Suter Prize. The prize was endowed by their parents for Cambridge Youth Music’s annual Young Musician of the Year, but this has recently become too difficult to administer. The Suter family has decided to entrust us with the use of this money and so we were delighted when Maurice Hodges agreed to write a piece for us, for the Upper Orchestra and the 10+ and 9+ choirs. The text chosen is Arthur O’Shaughnessy’s beautiful poem “Ode”, which starts “We are the music makers”.

The choirs will perform the piece in the piano version in the Upper Presentation on the afternoon of the last day, Friday 25th August, but the full orchestral premiere will take place that evening. We are planning an extra concert – a Gala Concert – at West Road, as a one-off special event for the premiere of ‘Music Makers’ and because Holiday Orchestra has a lot to be proud of and to enjoy. Together with Maurice’s song, we will have Brahms from the Orchestra, a selection from the 10+ choir and a return visit from ‘Smolorch’. Smolorch is a small orchestra put together by an enterprising bunch of sixth-formers (largely Holiday Orchestra related) who thrilled us last year with their lunch-time performance. We are grateful that, between exams and holidays, they have agreed to come and play for us again.

So it will be a fabulous evening, with time for a glass of something together afterwards and a retiring collection in aid of a suitable charity. Ticketing systems will be explained later. Parents of children in the 9+ choir may have already realised that those children will be needed in the afternoon and evening of the fifth day, contrary to our usual policy of trying not to tire them out too much. Every effort will be made to make that day easier for them and we are sure they will rise to the occasion!

Looking forward to seeing you for what promises to be a wonderful week in August.

Best regards,

Lydia Hill, Chair of Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra



After a whirlwind of an Easter Course with much happy music-making, Holiday Orchestra is now planning the Summer Course, August 21st – 25th. Lots of exciting things will be happening and members will be informed by e-mail when booking is about to commence. We expect this to be sometime in June. We look forward to seeing you in August, Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra.


Bookings open for Easter 2017

Hello to all members and friends of Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra.

We now have our Easter Course programme ready for booking, and we hope that you will want to join us. We are back at West Road with Russell Keable as our Course Director, so we can enjoy the facilities at West Road and can offer a wide range of musical possibilities.

Dan Ecclestone is bringing his keyboards, xylophones and glockenspiels for two sessions of cumulative music building under the title of Fireflies / Bright Lights for Keyboards and Percussion. No previous experience is required, only ears, eyes and fingers, but the electronic keyboards should give Holiday Orchestra pianists a chance to use their expertise.

We also have three Djembe drumming sessions with Kirsty Body and three Gamelan sessions with Robert Campion. Of course there are string groups, bands and choirs at every level, plus recorders and ukuleles, all giving the children four days of making music and making friends, with two brilliant presentations at the end. Our aim is for children to experience the thrill of making music together. We hope you will find our programme irresistible, and we look forward to seeing you at West Road from April 10th to 13th.


Lydia Hill,

Chairman of Cambridgeshire Holiday Orchestra

P.S. Don’t forget our second-hand music scheme. Bring and Buy!

Visit the booking page to book a place at the course.