Our History

Our History

Our History

The Sutton Schools Orchestra was founded in January 1972 to encourage young musicians to participate in and enjoy making music. In the years since it has developed into the Sutton Music Service that we know today.

In 1977 the Sutton Schools Training Orchestra was founded, alongside the Junior String Orchestra. These three orchestras, alongside three wind bands organised by Belinda Gooch, then ‘Coordinator of Music for the London Borough of Sutton’, performed often. Concerts took place at local venues such as the Carshalton Parish Church (now All Saints Church) and Merton Civic Hall, alongside venues such as the Royal Festival Hall and the Fairfield Halls.

Sutton Schools Orchestra Tour to the USA – March 25th – April 8th, 1978

In 1976 a young people’s choir from Clifton, New Jersey, visited the borough and performed at various local venues. In the Spring of 1978, the favour was returned, and the Sutton Schools Orchestra toured the East Coast of the USA.

Conducted by Douglas Coombes, the SSO performed at a wide range of venues and locations on their six-performance tour, visiting the states of Connecticut, New Jersey, and even Washington D.C.!

Dignitaries from Sutton, including the mayor (Jack Izard) and the MPs for Sutton & Cheam and Carshalton (Neil Macfarlane and Nigel Forman respectively) sent their good wishes to the students in SSO for their performances.

See the images below from a programme of 1978 USA visit, giving an insight into how prestigious the tour was – we are incredibly lucky to have this document.

Get in touch!

Did you go on the Sutton Schools Orchestra tour of the USA? Were you involved in any of the Sutton Music Service ensembles? We would love to hear your stories – please email suttonmusicservice@cognus.org.uk, FAO Andy Bragg.

Celebrating 50 Years of Sutton Music Service

We are excited to be celebrating our 50th anniversary this year, with a Golden Jubilee Concert to be held at the Fairfield Halls on Saturday, July 9th.

As a Music Service, we are proud to be continuing the mission held by the Sutton Schools Orchestra, for the young people of the borough to #MakeMusicWithUs.

#SMS50