Epsom Symphony Orchestra was founded in 1951 by John Gale, his wife and three children, John, Jocelyn and Gwendoline (who were all keen string players). John Gale’s son, originally a viola player, conducted the orchestra for twenty years until he handed over to Derek Lucas, who had previously been the orchestra’s principal clarinet. Derek conducted the orchestra for the next ten years. In 1981 Darrell Davison was appointed musical director and remains the orchestra’s conductor.
Over the years, many well known soloists have appeared with the orchestra. Performers have includes Cyril Smith and Phyllis Sellick; Eileen Joyce and Semprini. Later on soloists included pianist John Lill, the clarinettist Gervase de Peyer and pianist Benjamin Grosvenor.
Eric Hastings, who passed away in March 2015 aged 90, led the orchestra for fifty years and was a significant part of the cultural life in Epsom during that time. Previously, he had had a busy professional life as a founder member of the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra and then with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
The Orchestra is currently in its 66th Season.
Darrell Davison studied music as a scholar at Charterhouse and at St Catherine’s College,Cambridge. He started his professional career as the principal cellist of the Ulster Orchestra before returning to London as a freelance cellist. In 1979 he won the Sir John Barbirolli Conducting Competition and since then has worked with many different orchestras, both professional and amateur. This has included performances with all four London orchestras and recordings with the LSO and the BBC.
In 1984 he was a prize winner in the inaugural Leeds Conducting Competition and in the same year made his London debut by conducting the RPO at a Royal Philharmonic Society Concert at the Royal Festival Hall. Since then Darrell has made appearances at many of the major venues in England and has also conducted lakeside proms at both Kenwood and Crystal Palace. He was appointed Musical Director of the Epsom Symphony Orchestra in 1981.
As a composer he has had his works performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and has written and orchestrated film scores for the London Symphony Orchestra.
Julia Burkert took over leading the orchestra when Eric Hastings retired. Born in Bayreuth, Germany, Julia studied under a full scholarship with Ann Elliott-Goldschmid and the Lafayette Quartet at the University of Victoria in Canada, followed by postgraduate studies with Peter Lissauer at the RSAMD in Glasgow, Scotland. Since 2005, Julia has pursued an active freelance career in London.