Here is some background information about some of our members, in random order.

Violin, former leader

Bernard Brook's picture

Bernard Brook was Leader of Bromley Symphony Orchestra for 23 years, and has also been soloist with us in many compositions, including the Bliss Violin Concerto, Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto and Vaughan Williams’ ‘Lark Ascending’. He lead the Militaire Orchestra, for many years  performing at venues such as the Mansion House and Guildhall in the City of London, and the Royal Naval College Greenwich.This has included performances in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen and other members of the Royal Family.  Bernard was also the musical director Bromley Symphony Players and is a freelance performer with a variety of ensembles and orchestras.

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Violin, former treasurer

Phil McKerracher's picture

Phil has been a member since 1998. He started learning the violin in Australia when he was 8 and still has lessons occasionally. He was leader of various junior orchestras and played in chamber groups, pit orchestras and theatrical productions before moving to the UK in 1985. Here he has been a regular member of orchestras in Huntingdon, Basingstoke, Kingsclere, Reading, Guildford, London, Leatherhead, Hayes and Bromley, but also often plays in smaller ad-hoc groups accompanying choirs or musicals. Rehearsals for these one-off events are often short and require sight-reading skill. They sometimes pay a modest (amateur) fee but Phil earns a living as a professional electrical engineer and software developer and music is just a hobby. Bromley Symphony concerts require more practice – 7 or 8 group rehearsals plus at least a couple of evenings of individual practice before each concert.

He also plays piano (rarely in public) but finds the violin particularly rewarding because the character of the sound can be changed continuously, and because of the social aspect of orchestral playing. Violins often get the main melody and rarely sit silent, counting bars rest....

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Tarcisio Dantas's picture

Born In Minas Gerais Brazil, Tarcísio Dantas began his music studies at the church “Christian Congregation In Brazil”. His development on the violin at the early stages was made possible thanks to the teacher Davi Graton (São Paulo Symphony violin soloist). Studying with Ana Ghitã (Romania),in 2007 he was admitted to Sergipe Symphony Orchestra, and in 2010 was admitted at principal of second violins section. Meanwhile, Tarcísio took part in several master classes with the following soloists: Daniel Guedes, Ronedilk Dantas, Emanuelle Baldini, Elisa Fukuda and Marcio Rodrigues. In 2008 he started to study music teaching at Federal University of Sergipe, being one of the creators of the university’s orchestra (Osufs). From 2009 to 2014 he coordinated string teaching at the social project of the Youth Orchestra of the Vale of Contiguiba (OSVC), and since 2013 he has the same position at the Youth Orchestra of Aracaju. At Sergipe Symphony, Mr. Dantas developed an important music trajectory, being soloist of several baroque concertos (including Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, La Stravaganza), playing under conducting of important maestros (Isaac Karabtchevsky, Michel Legrand, Roberto...

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Catherine Borner's picture

Catherine Borner studied piano and flute from the age of ten at the junior department of the Royal Academy of Music. After graduating from the University of York, she trained on the repetiteur courses at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Catherine has performed concertos with York University Chamber Orchestra and James Allen Community Orchestra and has appeared on BBC Radio 3 In Tune. She has also played Petrushka with Bromley Symphony Orchestra. Repetiteur work includes Aida (Kentish Opera), Anna Bolena (Tower of London Festival 2005), A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Cunning Little Vixen, Romeo et Juliette (British Youth Opera) as well as The Gondoliers, La Traviata and The Marriage of Figaro while trainee repetiteur at English National Opera.

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Viola, violin, double bass, tuba

John Davis's picture

John has been a member since 1996 but lapsed for a few years when work pressures prevented attendance on Monday evenings. He has played the viola since 1961 and now practises about 2 hours per week. He plays a 19th century English instrument purchased in 1967 from Dietrich Kessler, a viol maker. His parents could not afford the £180 to buy a viol for his 21st birthday. Any violinist will tell you that a viola is very easy to play! He is a chartered engineer, aeronautics and other engineering subjects, currently lecturing with the Open University.

One of his grandfathers was the conductor of an amateur orchestra, the other a piano teacher. The first grandfather's violin was always in the house during his childhood. He now also possesses his other grandfather's piano. In the first term at secondary school sixth-formers came to the class and brilliantly demonstrated their instruments. The music teacher had a double first from Oxford in French and mathematics but could only get a job teaching woodwork in the interwar years. He devoted his spare time to making 20 or so violins and started the school orchestra. John was inspired to play the violoncello but parental finances...

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Vicky Dowsett's picture

I started learning the oboe at the age of 13 with Caroline as my teacher. I was principal oboe in Goldsmiths' Youth Orchestra for 5 years and studied with Helena Gaunt at Guildhall whilst completing my music degree at City University from 92-95. I am a classroom music teacher in three schools currently. I also play the piano and the violin.

Violin, leader

Andy Laing's picture

Andrew (Andy) Laing was born in Aberdeen. He started learning the violin when he was five years old and by the age of sixteen was appointed leader of the National String Orchestra of Scotland. He then gained a place at the Royal Academy of Music, where he studied violin with David Martin and later with Frederick Grinke. Andy won numerous prizes & scholarships at the RAM. While still a student he was appointed leader of the Morley College Symphony Orchestra, also regularly leading the Ealing Symphony Orchestra, the Hatfield Philharmonic and the Forest Philharmonic.

At the RAM Andy formed and led the Locrian String Quartet under the guidance of Sidney Griller. The Quartet won many prizes and scholarships, was appointed 'Quartet in Residence' at the University of Hertfordshire, broadcast on BBC radio and TV and gave numerous first performances of works by composers such as Nyman, Crosse and Panufnik.

After leaving the Locrian Quartet, Andy was appointed sub-leader of the BBC Radio Orchestra, then Leader of the London City Ballet Orchestra. In the 90s, Andy spent much time on stage at the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he met his wife, Rachel (also a...

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David Coronel's picture

David Coronel joined Bromley Symphony Orchestra in 2001. He had taken up percussion at school, having classes with Stephen Henderson, now a busy freelancer playing with everyone from period instrument bands to the John Wilson Orchestra, although he was then playing for the London Symphony Orchestra. David gave up playing after leaving university, but took it up again in 1996 when he started collecting his own instruments.

The keyword for percussionists is variety – David has a large collection of instruments ranging from the common orchestral items like timpani, bass drums, cymbals and snare drums to more obscure and ethnic items like vibraslaps, agogo bells, lion’s roar and a thundersheet. The worst part of the job is transporting them to and from concerts. When Bromley Symphony played the Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique last season, David also had two church bells on hire, and had to shuttle there and back twice to the hall to get everything home. Fortunately, the new hall at Langley Park has excellent access for percussion, all on the flat. The worst hall he has played in is St.John’s Smith Square, where everything has to be carried up 16 stone steps into the building,...

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Principal horn, former chairman

Roy Banks's picture

Roy has been a member for approximately 12 years having joined around 2000 although he had appeared with us numerous times prior to that as an extra or dep’ for several years beforehand. Once he joined as a member he was employed as co-principal to the then principal horn: Oliver Tunstall (son of the famous Tony Tunstall – 40 years the principal horn of The Covent Garden Royal Opera House Orchestra). Oliver and Roy shared the 1st horn chair for several years until work took Oliver away from London round about 2004-5 which meant he could no longer attend regular BSO rehearsals. Roy then took over the principal horn role permanently around September 2006. Later in November 2006 Roy was made Chairman, a post he held until May 2012. Roy’s wife Mary joined the orchestra and the horn section around about 2003-4 and has occupied our regular 3rd horn chair since around 2005. In May 2006 Roy performed as soloist playing Mozart’s Horn Concerto No.3.

Roy plays no other instrument other than the French horn which he started to learn at school. The instrument he plays on is extremely uncommon. It is an Alexander 104 – at first glance to a non-horn-players’ eye it could be mistaken for...

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Principal Viola

Dave Griffiths's picture

I joined BSO in September 1980, aged 16, on the exact same day that Adrian Brown took over from John Coulling as our conductor although I was briefly in the cello section during the 1963-64 season, my mum Shirley discovering it was difficult not to include me in the months before I was born. I may still owe the treasurer a partial subscription for that season. With my family background I don’t think it was ever even considered that I wouldn’t join BSO; my  mum played in the cello section from the 1950s and my dad later became chairman.

I went through the fledgling Bromley Youth music scheme as a kid but, unlike my mother’s side of the family (the ubiquitous Handys of West Wickham/Beckenham), my enthusiasm for classical musical at that age was not sufficient for me to consider going into the profession. I started like so many on the violin but moved over to the viola, because we had one and it is, of course, the prince of all instruments. A few months after joining Bromley, I formed a heavy metal band with a friend from the Bromley Youth Chamber Orchestra viola section!

Over the years I think I have only missed one concert; I very nearly missed one back in the...

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Principal Oboe

Caroline Marwood's picture

Caroline studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Janet Craxton and Michael Dobson. She worked as a freelance oboist for many years, performing with English National Opera, the English Chamber Orchestra and the London Concert Orchestra, and was involved in productions with the Royal Shakespeare Company including the first London run of Les Miserables. As a member of the Marwood Ensemble, Caroline toured the UK and performed at the Wigmore Hall, on the South Bank and on Radio Three. An Open University degree in Natural Sciences eventually led to a significant career change, and Caroline is now Head of Biology at St Olave’s Grammar School in Orpington Kent.  Music is however still an important part of her life; she performs regularly with several chamber music groups and has played principle oboe in Bromley Symphony Orchestra for over 10 years.

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Alan Mitchell's picture

Alan joined the BSO in 2009 for the one-off chance to perform Mahler’s 9th symphony. Having sung in no. 3 with the Halle under Sir John Barbirolli as a boy, and after ticking off most other Mahler symphonies over the years, to experience number 9 was an opportunity not to be missed. But the BSO is a friendly bunch and  . . . here he still is. Monday night rehearsals? Well it’s music therapy really – good fun, friends, music-making with like-minded nutters!

Music and friendships have always gone together ever since Alan’s social life as a teenager took off playing viola in the Cheshire and Merseyside Youth Orchestras. After an MA in editing Renaissance music, he studied baroque violin (gut strings etc) in the 1980s with Micaela Comberti and Sigiswald Kuijken and played with all the leading period instrument orchestras. These were the heady days when we were discovering afresh the “authentic” sounds of Bach with Roger Norrington, recording CDs of late Mozart with John Eliot Gardiner and Beethoven symphonies and piano concertos with Christopher Hogwood. The musical highlight was...

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Principal cello

Alice McVeigh's picture

Alice McVeigh was born in South Korea, of American diplomatic parents, and lived in Southeast Asia until she was 13, when the family returned to the suburbs of Washington D.C. She then began to learn to play the cello, winning among other competitions the Beethoven Society of Washington Cello Competition, as well as being selected as a finalist in the National Music Teachers Association Young Soloists competition and the National Symphony of Washington Young Concert Artists award. She achieved a B.Mus with distinction in performance at Indiana University School of Music and in the 1980s came to London to study privately with Jacqueline Du Pre's 'cello daddy', William Pleeth. Since then she has freelanced with orchestras including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic and Sir John Eliot Gardiner's Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique all over the EU, America and the Far East, including Carnegie Hall. In addition, she has performed cello concertos with orchestras including the Bromley Symphony Orchestra, the Waveney Sinfonia, the Stoneleigh Youth Orchestra and the Sussex Philharmonic (Dvořák, Elgar, Saint-Saëns, Don Quixote, Schelomo, etc.) She...

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