The BCO enjoys playing an eclectic selection of music; we value diversity in our repertoire, which currently includes many film, TV and popular themes including Pirates of the Caribbean, John Williams, Abba and The Beatles, to name a few. This is alongside some more traditional classical pieces, such as a much loved Celtic Air and Dance.
We play music of a Grade 3 standard as a rule, but are a casual and welcoming orchestra and wish to invite anyone of any ability. Even if you want to just listen, offer only the occasional note or learn on the job, we’d love to have you with us. We accept any instruments but at the moment we have a full complement of violins. We are looking for some trombone players to join us, so if that's you, please give us a shout!
As a growing orchestra, we do not yet play any concerts on a regular basis. Every year we hold a Christmas social, though, where we invite friends and family to come and listen to all that we have been working on and eat a couple of mince pies. It's a wonderful chance to showcase the results of all our hard work. We just love to share our enjoyment of music with others, and setting ourselves goals of events to play at would be very exciting, so watch this space for some upcoming events!
Every great orchestra has an origin story.
Ours starts with Tom.
Tom is our founder and for many of us our music teacher, and for all of us our friend.
The BCO started in Tom's front room but we enjoyed playing together and wanted to expand to allow more of Tom's students the chance to play as a group. We moved to a church hall and in our early days we were still just a handful of people meeting once a week.
As we grew COVID struck and for a while we could only connect in WhatsApp. But we persevered, we sent one another recordings of what we were practicing and when the rules allowed we had some cold but much anticipated outdoor rehearsals. We even merited a mention on the Moreton Hall facebook group as a mysterious brass band making noise on a Tuesday evening.
Now that we can meet safely again we have made the most of our time together, which feels even more precious than before.
Bury Community Orchestra meet weekly on a Tuesday from 6 to 8 at Christ Church on Moreton Hall in Bury St Edmunds. We are a friendly group of amateur musicians across all grades, no one is excluded.
We ask for a monthly payment that equates to £3 per week to cover the cost of the hall and always find time for a drink and a piece of cake. Our orchestra is continuing to evolve as we grow as musicians and as a group and we are proud to support one another.
Meet some of our company
We are always open to new members. At present we have a full complement of violins but we will keep this space updated if this changes. We are hoping to recruit some people who play trombone.
Having been a member of the orchestra from the very start where we began as a string quintet. I am so proud of how we have grown. Not only in members but in confidence and our sense of community.
As an amateur violinist myself I am so grateful to have this rare opportunity to play in an orchestral setting, with no judgment or expectation. We are just a big family that love making music to share with others.
Often consigned to naughty corner for back chatting Tom and failing to bring the music. Most likely to say "Tom, I can't play this!"
After seeing Tom's Facebook page asking for new members I plucked up the courage to start playing my clarinet after nearly 40 years.
Wow, I am so glad I did as it's given me so much confidence and I'm constantly learning new things every week in a fun and happy environment with my orchestra family
Caroline, David and Grace
Flute, clarinet and violin
The Balaam family, once referred to as "the heart of the orchestra". Three of the originals and in the early days made up a third of our members. Arriving early each week to get set up and providing drinks with a smile in the break. Our orchestra has grown due to the friendly nature of its members
Most likely to say..."I don't do sight reading" or "How does this one go?"
“There are two golden rules for an orchestra: start together and finish together. The public doesn’t give a damn what goes on in between.”
― Thomas Beecham
“My music is best understood by children and animals.”
― Igor Stravinsky
'Without music, life would Bb'
'Music makes sense, when everything else is crazy'
We threw Michelle in at the deep end but she swam!
Flute, trumpet, cornet, flugel
I started playing recorder at six and flute at nearly thirteen. I played in a marching band throughout my teens, before learning cornet at age twenty and joining the local brass band. Nowadays I’m primarily a brass player (trumpet, cornet and flugel) and play in a few other local bands and orchestras in this capacity, but I’ve often been itching to play the flute with others again rather than just practising alone at home, and this very friendly orchestra is giving me this opportunity. I’ve not just joined an orchestra, but an orchestra family, a lovely group of people who are there for each other both inside and outside of the rehearsal room. My youngest daughter Abbey is following in my footsteps and enjoying learning the flute, just as much as I’m enjoying playing in Bury Student Orchestra.
"My passion and my best friend "
This is Tom, our illustrious leader. He is responsible for bringing order to Tuesday evenings and making sure we sound the very best we can. His firm belief is that music should be accessible for everyone, and that we play at our finest only when we are enjoying ourselves.
Personally, he is a private music teacher and classical musician who plays almost every instrument, in settings that include professional Orchestras, Brass Bands, and even an RAF Military Band. Though some have said his passion for music seems like an obsession, he much prefers the term "enthusiastic."
This is Lee, our resident Bass Clarinettist. Somewhat new to the clarinet, but certainly no stranger to Disco and Glam Rock.
"I really like it when it's busy, so that my mistakes aren't as obvious, but I love that when mistakes are made, nobody judges, everyone is always patient and supportive. We are lucky enough to have a lovely group of people and I'm so glad that I joined."
I am our resident French Horn player, Fred. It’s very difficult to play but I relish the sound it makes, so it’s worthwhile in my opinion. Aside from that I’m a bit of a nature enthusiast.
Hi, my name is Erica and I recently returned to playing the violin after a 30 year break. I am also the baker in the group. I started having lessons with Tom 2 years ago and he suggested I come to orchestra as well as having lessons. I am so glad I did. Not only is it a chance to play with other people who all share a passion for music, but it is really great fun. We laugh every week, not at each other but with each other. We are none of us perfect at the pieces we play but we try hard and support each other along the way. New members are always welcome to the orchestra family.
News and performances
First performance for the public
September 25th 2021
For the first time the Bury Community Orchestra played for more than our lovely friends and family.
Hosted by the New Green Community Centre in Thurston we played some of our favourites to a kind and appreciative audience, which was a huge boost to our confidence.
As one of us said afterwards: "I was 2 bars behind everyone else at the end, but no one seemed to notice, so I am happy with that!"
They say no battle plan survives contact with the enemy, and we learned today that when you encourage the audiance to clap they set a much faster pace than we play in rehearsal.
Special mention goes to Lee for his introduction of the orchestra and the music, and to Tom for his calm leadership and provision of snacks.
Many thanks to the organisers of the Big Weekend for inviting us.
BSO moves to Christ Church on Moreton Hall
We have been fortunate to be hosted by New Green Community Centre for over a year and we are very grateful to them for their hospitality. As we have continued to grow we have become a little squashed and we are pleased to be able to move this month to Christ Church on Moreton Hall in Bury St Edmunds, where we can stretch our elbows again.
December 14th 2021 Doors opened at 6 for a 6.30 start.
With group spots from our brass, our strings and our clarinets as well as our whole orchestra pieces, we were proud to present our Christmas music for the evening. Live streamed as well as in person we were grateful to everyone who supported us and for the collection that has helped us to buy some new music.
Summer concert 16th July 2022
16th July 2022
We are planning a summer performance to showcase the long hard work of the winter and spring rehearsals. Check back here for further details, but expect a picnic and a chance to chat afterwards