The Dorset County Orchestra has been delighting audiences for more than half a century, having been formed as long ago as 1951 at the instigation of the then County Music Organiser, Joan Brocklebank. The first conductor was the young Lawrence Leonard. Apart from its first season, when it received financial help from the Carnegie Trust, the orchestra has made its own way through subscriptions, concert proceeds and sponsorship.
The members of the orchestra are semi-professional and amateur musicians from all over Dorset and continue, under their present conductors, to perform a wide selection from the classical repertoire. There have also been many successful joint ventures with local choral societies. As a local amateur orchestra they welcome membership enquiries from enthusiastic and committed players.
The orchestra typically performs three concerts a year in different venues in Dorset. We usually have around five rehearsals for each concert; these take place on Saturday or Sunday afternoons, usually in Tarrant Keyneston or Charlton Marshall village halls. See our rehearsals page for current rehearsal schedules.
Conductor Emeritus: Ian Pillow
Ian Pillow has spent most of his working life as a viola player – including playing with many of the London orchestras, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, and, in particular the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO), where he has worked for a total of nearly thirty years. In addition to his viola playing, he has presented the BSO’s pre-concert talks for 20 years and has conducted various community music projects for them, as well as their brass ensemble. He is well known as a fine trainer of amateur orchestras and has brought both the Dorset County Orchestra and Sherborne Community Orchestra to new levels of excellence. In addition, he is conductor of the Purbeck String Festival for which he has conducted premiers of works by Sally Beamish and Mike Westbrook. Since his retirement from playing he has continued to present the BSO’s pre-concert talks and is devoting more time to composition. He has written choral, orchestral and chamber works which have been enthusiastically received. His carol ‘The Oxen’ has been featured twice in the Festival of Lessons and Carols at St Martin in the Fields. In 2012 the BSO requested a piece for brass for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and two pieces to commemorate the centenary of the Titanic. He also composed a Sinfonia Concertante for two local young players, which was performed with DCO in June 2012.
Conductor: Arturo Serna
Venezuelan / British musician Arturo Serna holds a dynamic career as conductor, cellist and teacher in the area of Dorset and Somerset. He studied at El Sistema in Venezuela. He pursued further studies at the Conservatoires of Perpignan and Toulouse in France and later on in Switzerland at the Conservatoire de Musique de Geneve. In 2007 he moved to the UK to study at the Trinity College of Music of London. Arturo started his conducting career in the UK, studying with Jonathan Vinden and Jonathan Rose at the Trinity College of Music in London. He also studied with Denise Ham at Blackheath Conservatoire and attends regular Masterclasses at the RNCM.
Arturo was appointed Musical Conductor of Wessex Strings in 2013 and after a year of tenure he was called to take on the conductorship of the Bridport Chamber Orchestra. From January 2014 he started conducting Allington Strings and was made chief conductor of the Axe Vale Orchestra after guest conducting the ensemble in their autumn concert last year. Arturo is very excited to come back to conduct and play with the Dorset County Orchestra after guest conducting them in their summer concert.
Recent highlights as cellist include performing concertos by Dvorak and Haydn in Venezuela and the UK, as well as concerts in Europe, North and South America. Arturo was part of the Foyle Future Firsts Apprenticeship Scheme of the London Philharmonic Orchestra 2010-2011 and has enjoyed freelancing with orchestras such as the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande and the Orchestre de Chambre de Toulouse. He was also part of the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra.
Arturo lives in Sherborne with his wife Ana and his son Andres. He is a keen educator who teaches cello and chamber music in a number of schools in the area of Dorset and Somerset as well as at the Junior Trinity College of music and at the University of Bath Spa.
Leader: Bärbel Glaser
Bärbel graduated with a Diploma in Orchestral Music and a Degree in Music Education from the Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy Academy in Leipzig in the former East Germany. Her teachers came from the Leipzig Radio Orchestra and the Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig and the Staatskapelle Weimar. She was an extra player for the Leipziger Komödie (Comedy House) and joined the Leipziger Radio Orchestra for several productions and concerts. In 1987 she joined the orchestra of the Zwickau Theatre, where she enjoyed playing a variety of music ranging from opera and musicals to symphony concerts, as well as touring through Eastern Europe and Italy with the Zwickau Chamber Orchestra. Since 2000 she has worked as a freelance musician in Dorset and Hampshire and has played with the Dorset County Orchestra, the Dorset Chamber Orchestra and the Wimborne Chamber Orchestra as well as many local choral societies. As well as teaching privately and at local schools she enjoys performing chamber music with the Parry String Quartet and in recitals with the pianist Cathy Beeby.