History

Starting out as the Insurance Orchestra, the London Phoenix Orchestra was founded in 1924 by Harold Rawlinson to provide members of the insurance industry with an opportunity to meet regularly and enjoy playing music together. This fundamental enthusiasm for music and friendly ethos remains at the heart of the orchestra's purpose to this day. While the orchestra may have grown and changed over the years, we are proud to retain strong links to the insurance industry and provide its many workers with the chance to further their love of music.

The Insurance Orchestra (as it started life) soon established itself among the forefront of amateur orchestras and up to 1939 gave concerts in the Queen's Hall. In 1951, the then London County Council invited the orchestra to appear at the new Royal Festival Hall where it played for the first time on the 12th July 1951. for the next forty years or so, the Festival Hall and its smaller sister, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, were to be its regular concert venues.

When its original conductor, Harold Rawlinson, retired in 1969 the orchestra took the ambitious and inspired decision to appoint a professional conductor. The first of these, Maurice Miles, started the process of raising the playing standard of the orchestra and each of his successors has continued this process. the result of all this work has produced an orchestra where the best of amateur musicians can attend rehearsals in the knowledge that the resulting concert will be one notch better than the previous.

Under the baton of Levon Parikian the orchestra is now regarded as one of London's finest amateur orchestras. We give regular concerts at so me of the capital's top venues including St. John's, Smith Square and Cadogan Hall and have recently worked with prestigious soloists such as Andrew Marriner, former BBC Young Musician of the Year Rafal Zambrzycki-Payne and Tom Poster, Gold Medallist in the Scottish International Piano Competition. In late 2006, the orchestra's performance of Stuart Hancock's Bitter Suite was also broadcast on BBC Radio 3 as part of the Listen Up Festival. Bitter Suite was commissioned by the orchestra as part of its ongoing efforts to support talented young musicians at the start of their careers.

Today, a relaunched London Phoenix Orchestra, with the backing of its new Corporate Members, intends to join them in their support for local charitable causes. This way, the orchestra properly returns to the insurance industry within its mandate as the Insurance Orchestral Society.

For a list of the orchestra's repertoire over the last eighteen years and a record of our ambitious Brahmsathon, please use the links on the left.