The Sinfonia of Cambridge was founded in 1980 by a local businessman and keen musician, Miles Rackowe, who believed that Cambridge deserved an orchestra comprised of local musicians, performing to the highest standard. It is now acknowledged to be one of the leading orchestras of the region.
The orchestra is entirely independently run, and, thanks to generous sponsorship from local businesses over the years, it has been able to perform at least three concerts a year, thus establishing itself as one of Cambridge’s more permanent musical institutions.
The orchestra’s members are largely Cambridge or East Anglia based – experienced professionally-trained performers and music teachers, and gifted amateurs, many of whom have now played with the orchestra for a number of years. It also draws associate members from further afield. Many guest artists have formed established links with the orchestra and return regularly.
As well as providing opportunities for local performers, the orchestra has worked with many of the country’s top soloists, including Nigel Kennedy, Stephen Isserlis, Jill Gomez, Susan Milan, Jeremy Menuhin, Raphael Wallfisch, Boris Berezovsky, John Lill, David Campbell, Tom Poster, and Lawrence Power. Conductors have included Guy Woolfenden, Grant Llewellyn, Mark Shanahan, Peter Britton, and Russell Keable. In 2013 the orchestra appointed Howard Williams as Musical Director.
The Sinfonia of Cambridge prides itself on the variety and breadth of its programming – there is no such thing as a typical programme! Its usual ‘large chamber’ proportions are well suited to some of the lesser known late classical and twentieth century pieces, but it is equally at home performing Haydn and Mozart. It frequently expands to a full symphony orchestra for concerts which include works from the late romantic repertoire. The orchestra has also worked with local choirs (both adult and children’s), and has presented special performances exclusively for children.