Are you interested in playing in a friendly orchestra that meets once a month to work on the orchestral repertoire, and with NO ticket selling?


We could be the orchestra for you!  Please read on.......

How we began


Bristol Orchestral Players was formed in 1963 by a small group of musical friends at Southmead Hospital. Since then it has expanded into a fun and friendly group of musicians of differing ages and experience drawn from Bristol and beyond.


For more information about the music we enjoy playing, please click on the About Us page.



We play for the pleasure of working on and getting to know the orchestral repertoire. 


From September to March, we meet monthly, usually on the third Sunday, to focus on a couple of works (usually one symphony and one overture) for two successive sessions before moving on to explore new works for the next two rehearsals and so on.  

Between April and June, we meet more regularly (up to five times)  preparing for our annual concert – which is given free to family and friends, followed by a Americian supper style buffet.


We don't take ourselves too seriously but we do work hard at playing the music to as high a standard as possible. 


With only one concert (free!) a year, there is NO TICKET SELLING....  . Friends and family are warmly invited.



Season 2019/20


  A list of dates 

and this year's music

can be found

by clicking on the

2019/20 Calendar page





from 6.30pm to 9.00pm



St Peter'sChurch Hall, The Drive,  Henleaze Bristol BS9 4LD.


Annual subscription:  £30.00


Good parking available

Covid 19: Following HM Gov Guidelines, we are cancelling our annual concert, set for 21st June 2020;  scheduled rehearsals are also cancelled for the time being.  However, the Orchestra continues to exist and we very much look forward to welcoming all our players (+ any new ones who might be interested in joining us) as soon as the Guidelines permit us to do so.  We are busy planning our 2020/21 Season.

Get in touch


The orchestra is affiliated to "Making Music" and managed democratically.

A list of contacts can be found by clicking on the Contact page.


We currently have vacancies for all strings. 

For Brass and Woodwind, please enquire.


Notes from our Conductor about some of the pieces in our 2019/20 Season:


Tchaikovsky  Symphony no. 5 in E minor, Op. 64 (1888)

The movements of this large-scale work are linked by a theme that appears in all four, at first with a slow, mournful character, but eventually becoming a triumphant march. Tchaikovsky wrote of this symphony, "I have come to the conclusion that it is a failure". On first hearing the work, an American critic wrote '...sounds like nothing so much as a horde of demons struggling in a torrent of brandy, the music growing drunker and drunker. Pandemonium... raving...'. These views have not prevailed: it has become very popular with players and audiences.


Nielsen  Symphony no. 1 in G minor, Op. 7 (1892)

The music of the great Dane has seemed a bit beyond us hitherto, but, emboldened by managing Sibelius and even Bartok in recent years, we shall make our acquaintance with Nielsen by playing this dramatic and attractive work, which Robert Simpson described as 'probably the most highly organized first symphony ever written by a young man of twenty-seven.'


Strauss  Die Fledermaus Overture (1874)

Johann Strauss's operetta 'The Bat', based loosely on a stage farce by J R Benedix, is still in the repertoire, but is nothing like so well known as its lively & very melodic overture. Unsurprisingly, considering who wrote it, one of the tunes is an energetic waltz.


Beethoven  Symphony no. 7 in A major, Op. 92 (1812)

Beethoven's symphonies remain great pillars of the repertoire, & suit our orchestra well. The composer conducted the first performance himself, with a band including Spohr, Meyerbeer, Hummel & Salieri! Wagner called this work 'the apotheosis of the dance', though Beecham said of the finale 'It's like a lot of yaks jumping about.'


Brahms  Symphony no. 1 in C minor, Op. 68 (1876)

Brahms was very self-critical, and worked on his first symphony for many years before considering it ready to be heard. Mozart wrote his first symphony at the age of 8; Brahms finished his at 43. The work begins with an extraordinary succession of chords over a pounding pedal C - a sound like nothing heard before. A tone of deep seriousness is sustained through the first and last movements, with the 2nd and 3rd somewhat lighter.


Bruckner  Overture in G minor (1863)

This is an 'early' orchestral work by Bruckner, though he was 38 years old. A late developer, he had not yet written any of the large-scale works on which his reputation now stands. However, his characteristic sound-world is already present in this overture, which was forgotten about during the composer's life, and not published until 1921. Given how we now think of Bruckner, it seems surprising that he was born 36 years before Mahler and 11 years before Brahms.


Concert programme:


Schubert  Symphony no. 3 in D major, D. 200 (1815)

Written very quickly, when the composer was 18 and already a considerable musical craftsman, this is not a mature masterpiece, but is full of rhythmic exuberance and melody.


Rachmaninov, arranged by Julian Dale  Selections from Vespers & Matins: movements from the All-Night Vigil (1915).

This is included as a highly-contrasted short interlude. Arranged from austerely beautiful music for unaccompanied voices, this is very unlike Rachmaninov's orchestral works.


Beethoven  Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61 (1806)

We are very pleased to welcome back Peter Evans, this time to play one of the greatest violin concertos in the repertoire. Like so many works we now value, the piece was not much appreciated in the composer's lifetime. It is a lyrical work: less dramatic than the piano concertos, though longer than any of them - which is why we have chosen a fairly short symphony this year.  


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