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