In 1947 an orchestral playing scheme was pioneered in North London which developed into the Haringey Young Musicians’ Symphony Orchestra. It became apparent that a similar demand existed among adults, and in the mid-1950s the Tottenham Municipal Orchestra was formed. In 1965, with the reorganisation of the boroughs, this was renamed the Haringey Symphony Orchestra, functioning as part of the borough’s adult education programme. In 1987, however, it became independent and took on charitable status. With the demise over the years of many orchestras in the area, in 1995 the name was changed to the North London Symphony Orchestra to reflect its wider base.

David Lardi was the orchestra’s conductor and musical director for 40 years from 1975 until his retirement at the end of 2015. His predecessors include Harry Legge OBE, Leslie Orrey and Roy Slack.

For many years the orchestra played at the old Alexandra Palace, where it gave the last classical concert before the building burnt down. Appropriately, it performed the reopening concert in the rebuilt Great Hall in 1988, conducted by David Lardi. It has also raised money for charities, notably the North London Hospice, which in recent years has received thousands of pounds in this way.

From its early days the orchestra has engaged soloists of the highest calibre. Early examples were Dennis Brain, Alfredo Campoli and Gervase de Peyer. It has also frequently given a platform to young people who at the time showed outstanding talent and who in many cases have gone on to be front-rank performers, among them Nigel Kennedy, Tasmin Little, Howard Shelley, Raphael Wallfisch and two winners of the BBC Young Musician of the Year contest, Anna Markland and Emma Johnson. This practice has continued in recent years, with soloists including Valeriy Sokolov, Alexei Kiseliov, Mathilde Milwidsky, Roger Chase, and James Kirby.

In January 2017, professional conductor and cellist Robert Max took over as conductor and is leading the orchestra through a new phase of ambitious development. See here for Robert’s bio.

The NLSO is affiliated to Making Music, which represents and supports amateur instrumental and vocal groups throughout the UK.