The original roots of the Orchestra go back to the Folkestone Municipal Orchestra, who regularly performed in the Leas Cliff Hall. They were established in the early 1920’s as a very proficient local professional orchestra. In 1932, local musician Mr. Alfred Dixon decided it was time that amateur players in Folkestone had their own orchestra and formed (and conducted) the Folkestone Amateur Orchestral Society. This ran alongside the Hythe Orchestral Society for a number of years. when the two orchestras finally merged in 1961, thus creating the Folkestone & Hythe Orchestral Society (FHOS) that we have today. This is the official Registered Charity name for the orchestra, although we now perform under the name of 'Folkestone Symphony'.
In 1930, shortly after the opening of the Leas Cliff Hall in 1927, an augmented Folkestone Municipal Orchestra gave a series of annual Music Festivals in this prestigious local venue, attracting guest conductors such as Sir Henry Wood, Dame Ethel Smythe and Susan Spain-Dunk. Sir Edward Elgar was also due to conduct in the first of these concerts in 1930, but was sadly unable to attend due to ill health. Susan Spain-Dunk is one of Folkestone's greatest musicians, whose works you will have heard us play from time to time. Growing up in Folkestone, Susan became a renowned violinist, conductor and composer and was one of the earliest women conductors at the London Promenade Concerts. We have had the privilege of working with Susan's family over the years and have managed to uncover and explore some of her previously forgotten works. We are very pleased to say that her works are gradually being played more and getting the exposure they deserve.
Today, very few towns can boast their own orchestra. In recent years, we have earned some worthy reviews such as:
- "The reputation of Folkestone Symphony is clearly established well in the hearts of music lovers" (David Pestell)
- "Folkestone Symphony has built a substantial audience from its local community because of the quality of its music making" (Dr Berkeley Hill)
We are very fortunate in having two extremely talented musicians at the helm of the orchestra; Rupert Bond, our Conductor of 9 years, who has given us such fine directorship, and Floriane Peycelon, a very popular local Violinist and Violin Teacher, who has provided such excellent leadership over the past 23 years. To both, we owe a huge debt of gratitude!
It is a sad fact, however, that many local residents are still unaware that Folkestone has its own orchestra, even though we have been in existence for 62 years. In fact, Folkestone has been extremely privileged in having its own orchestra for over 100 years. Plus the fact that Folkestone does have an official 'Music Town' status, which we should all be very proud of.
The orchestra today relies on members' subscriptions, ticket sales and donations from our Friends & Patrons which barely enables us to put on up to five concerts each year. We are therefore particularly keen to encourage more Friends & Patrons as our running costs continue to grow. Our Vice-Presidents are persons to whom the orchestra wishes to express special thanks and appreciation. Please either go to our Friends & Patrons page or contact our Chairman, Derek Kemp or phone 01303 894635.
We have around 60 active playing members of all age groups, who are highly motivated and enjoy making music together. Our membership takes in a wide catchment area all over South East Kent. We are a friendly group of musicians who meet up weekly to rehearse for the concerts. We owe much of our continuing success to our enthusiastic members and also to the skills of both our conductor, Rupert Bond and our leader, Floriane Peycelon, who all work hard to give three main concerts a year in November, March and July, usually to very appreciative audiences. Rupert and Floriane are both very fine musicians who push the members to give their best to the music, but who make our rehearsals both constructive and enjoyable. We may also manage to give a Family Christmas concert and/or a Summer Prom.
Rupert Bond was born in London. He gained his Bachelor of Music at Goldsmiths' College, London University and then successfully auditioned for the Conductor's Course at the Royal Academy of Music, where he also studied Double Bass. His most formative musical experience was as a student of George Hurst. He also holds a Master of Music degree in Composition from Surrey University. In 1999 he was appointed an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music for "Services to Music".
He began his career as a free-lance conductor and bass player, but a change of direction led to him being appointed as Director of Music at James Allen's Girls' School in London - a post that was once held by Gustav Holst. He was able to continue his conducting vocation and founded the professional orchestra Docklands Sinfonietta. He also developed his skills as a composer and has written over 40 compositions.
In 2003 he returned to full-time conducting, spending time in New Zealand (2006-7) and also in South West England (2008-13), but then returned to South East England and now lives in Kent. Recent projects have included producing a CD with the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra of music by the New Zealand composer Eric Biddington. Rupert Bond regularly conducts many orchestras, including the Folkestone Symphony, European Doctors' Orchestra, Kingston 3AO, Sonnet Wind Orchestra, Dartford Symphony, Suffolk Sinfonia, the Southwark Sinfonietta and the Surrey Philharmonic. This season he is also working with the Wandsworth Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Reform.
He believes passionately in Gustav Mahler's dictum, "in each performance a work has to be re-born".
Floriane Peycelon is a versatile professional musician, accomplished both as a busy freelance violinist and a very experienced teacher.
She studied the Violin in France, at the Lyon National Conservatoire of Music & Drama. She was taught by Jean Bisciglia, Leader of the Lyon National Orchestra and Head of Strings at the Conservatoire. After completing her MA in Politics and International Relations whilst playing in the Lyon Sinfonietta, Flo decided to make Kent her home.
Flo is the visiting Violin tutor at the University of Kent, where she also directs the String Sinfonia. She also teaches privately. Her students have been privileged to be involved in exciting music projects, working alongside the Glyndebourne Touring Orchestra, the composer John Woolrich, and the Sacconi Quartet. Since February 2022, Flo has been directing the Folkestone Young Strings Orchestra. She also runs the very successful Folkestone Camerata string workshops for amateur string players of all ages.
A prominent figure in the musical scene throughout Kent, Flo regularly freelances as a function violinist and an orchestral player, with the Festival Chamber Orchestra and various other orchestras and chamber groups throughout the county. Flo has led the Folkestone Symphony Orchestra since 2000. She leads many of the local Choral Society orchestras when available. She is also the leader of the Oare String Orchestra, the Bradstow Orchestra and since September 2022, the Canterbury Orchestra. As a chamber musician, she leads the Orsay Piano Quartet.
Flo has given numerous solo and chamber music recitals in the UK and abroad. Her solo performances to date have included the Bach Double Violin concerto, the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, the Beethoven Violin Concerto, Vaughan Williams’ Lark Ascending and all four of Vivaldi’s Seasons. She has just performed the Violin Solo in Cecilia McDowall's 'The Girl from Aleppo' and even more recently been soloist in Lalo's Symphonie Espagnole with Folkestone Symphony.
Chair: Derek Kemp
Secretary: Belinda Pidgen
Treasurer: Mary Everson
Librarian: Lindsay Powell-Williams
Making Music Rep: Marilyn Lewis
The orchestra would welcome any enquiries from prospective new members. However, this is always provided that we have vacancies.
We ask for at least Grade 6 standard for strings and Grade 7 for woodwind and brass.
We rehearse on Monday evenings from 7.30 – 9.30 pm.
For further information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Folkestone & Hythe Orchestral Society (FHOS) is our official name and is a registered charity. Trustees (Committee) are appointed or elected by the membership annually at the Annual General meeting.