Docklands Sinfonia' strikes chord to put East End on culture map
PUBLISHED: 00:47 17 September 2008 | UPDATED: 13:37 05 October 2010
THE East End of London is soon to have its own posh symphony orchestra—to rival anything in the West End culture belt.'
It's being set up at Canary Wharf by one of London's leading conductors, Spencer Down, with its first concert planned next spring at Limehouse. The new Docklands Sinfonia is promoting itself as an amateur orchestra "to be a major cultural force for East London"
THE East End of London is soon to have its own posh symphony orchestra—to rival anything in the West End culture belt.’
It’s being set up at Canary Wharf business district on the up-and-coming Isle of Dogs by one of London’s leading conductors, with its first concert planned next spring at Limehouse.
The new Docklands Sinfonia is promoting itself as an amateur orchestra “to be a major cultural force for East London.”
Conductor and founder Spencer Down is planning concerts and a programme of collaborations with leading soloists and composers.
Renowned saxophonist Christian Forshaw, whose Sanctuary album reached No 1 in the Amazon Classical Chart, performs at the orchestra’s opening concert next March.
The launch comes at a time when there is a resurgence of interest in classical music following several high-profile TV programmes such as BBC2’s Maestro and Classical Star.
Down has already demonstrated his ability to take a group of amateur musicians and convert them into a multi-award winning orchestra. He now wants to create a critically-acclaimed orchestra worthy of the Canary Wharf business district.
He is now recruiting talented amateur musicians on all instruments. Some professional players and former music college students have already signed up to be part of his ambitious project, with professional violinist Adam Barker leading the first concert.
Down inherited his passion for music from his grandfather, who ironically worked as a shipwright in the London Docks.
“He would have been amazed to see how Docklands has become such a successful business area and such a desirable place to live,” he said.
“Docklands deserves a symphony orchestra equal to its impressive reputation.
“I am confident there will be many high-calibre musicians among the workforce, with an estimated 100,000 people working in Canary Wharf alone by 2009, who will relish the opportunity to play in Docklands Sinfonia.”
Businesses appreciate the many benefits cultural activities bring to a community, he anticipates, especially the advantages to employees of having a cultural outlet for their musical talents.
Down, who conducts the Junior Guildhall School Symphony Orchestra in the City of London, also has ambitions for the orchestra to play a major educational role in Tower Hamlets by helping develop musicians of all ages.
He is also commissioning leading British composers to write new works for Docklands Sinfonia.
“I am determined the orchestra will be the catalyst to help the careers of composers and musicians,” he adds.
The orchestra performs its first concert in March at St Anne’s church in Limehouse.
Rehearsals, which will start in January, will be on Wednesdays, 7pm to 9.30pm, at the renowned Hawksmoor church in the Commercial Road.
Wannabe orchestra members can apply online at:
Supporters of Docklands Sinfonia can email: