Under the direction of Artistic Director Mark Shanahan, Forest Philharmonic Orchestra has gained an impressive reputation for the high quality and vitality of its performances. The string sections are each led by a professional player, whose input in rehearsals enables the orchestra to fulfil its aim of coaching the musicians of tomorrow while providing a forum for the leading amateur players of today. Young musicians in the local Waltham Forest community are given the opportunity to experience a full-size symphony orchestra during open rehearsals, and creative projects are undertaken in local schools, introducing classical music to pupils.
In addition to its regular season at Walthamstow Assembly Hall, Forest Philharmonic performs within the borough and surrounding areas, including at the Stow Festival and chamber concerts in local churches. It was invited by Waltham Forest Council to perform for HM The Queen for her visit to Walthamstow as part of her Diamond Jubilee Tour in March 2012. The orchestra has also performed in the Barbican Centre, Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, St John’s, Smith Square and St Alban’s Cathedral, featuring works such as Mahler’s symphonies nos. 2, 3 and 8, Tippett’s A Child of Our Time and Britten’s Spring Symphony. Recent soloists include John Lill, Ronan O’Hora, Fenella Humphreys, Gemma Rosefield, Tamsin Waley-Cohen, Paul Archibald, Gareth Hulse, Anna Hashimoto, Anne-Marie Owens, Linda Richardson, Julian Gavin and Andrew Greenan. The orchestra regularly performs with choral societies and also took part in the BBC 2 programme Maestro.