History of the TSO

Torbay Symphony Orchestra - this page is still being edited

Leon Cochran was born in Birmingham into a theatrical family. He started learning the violin at an early age and his musical career included playing on ships orchestras, a variety of dance bands, almost 40 broadcasts for the BBC, trios and quintets, TOADS (Operatic Society) Brixham and Paignton Operatic Societies and Paignton Pantomime Productions and the Torbay Big Band in 1978.


In 1983 Leon Cochran decided that Torbay could do with a Light Orchestra. He contacted a few friends and, before long, the orchestra was formed with about 25 players. Leon was musical director and Reg Mitchell Orchestra leader. Among the early players were Colin Woodford (secretary) Michael Taylor (librarian) Charles Comley, Jack Barnes, Chris Sheppard, Lesley Stuckey, John Grundy, Ron Bailey, Anne Sandham, Andy Stark and Tommy Gill. Our first rehearsals were held in a classroom of the old Torquay Boys Grammar school in Torre! When we grew a little larger we moved to the Abbey Lawn hotel. Our concert repertoire was opera, G&S oratorios, light and standard music. 


By 1985 our membership had grown....

Table of members 1985. 1


In 1988 Leon and his wife moved to Wales. The baton was handed over to Antony Constantine who continued with Leon’s love of light classical music and G&S. Reg Mitchell continued as leader and the orchestra moved its rehearsals to Kingskerswell Public Hall on the old Newton Road. 

Table of members 1988. 2



Mr David Warwick took over the baton of the orchestra in 1989 and continued as their musical director for the next ten years. The orchestra continued their rehearsals at the Kingskerswell public hall and then at The Abbey School in St Marychurch, Torquay. As well as musical director, leader, secretary, treasurer and librarian they formed a committee to deal with publicity. Several young members of the orchestra during this time included Emma Hall and Tim Badcott (violin) Christopher Hunt (cello) and Helen Stuckey and Hannah Read (Flute). Anne Hall, Emma’s mum, attended all the rehearsals and provided the orchestra with refreshments. 

The orchestra performed regularly at Oldway Mansions Paignton, Central Church Torquay, St Marychurch Town Hall, the Civic Hall in Totnes and St Paul’s Church Preston, Paignton. 

Table of members 1991/1992 3


programme explaining local support of soloists and charities 4 5 6 


programme 9 May 1991 Abbey School 7



Malcolm Hazel, the Herald Express critic, joined with the Orchestra as compère in the concert to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the TS Torbay Sea Cadet Corps.

Centre pages of blue programme Sea Corps 1992. 8


A concert in aid of the Guide Dogs for the Blind

Back and front pages of programme. 9 10 


Leon Cochran the orchestra’s founder returned to Torbay in 1992. Within a few weeks he was almost fully booked to play for Christmas and New Year and the 1993 season but in October he became ill and in November, after several tests, was diagnosed with cancer. He died two weeks later. 

After his funeral, several of his friends suggested they would like to give a memorial concert for him. Esme Cochran, his widow, organised ‘Leon’s Music Night’ a tribute concert at the Palace Theatre Paignton on May 23rd - Leon’s Birthday. 

Programme centre pages Leon’s tribute concert May 23 1993. 11


Front and Back page of the tribute concert 12 13 

Herald express review. 14

2 Photos from a summer BBQ at Dennis Killen’s house 1994. 15 16 


Jim Somerville took over as leader of the orchestra in 1995 and the orchestra continued to grow in strength. David Warwick was particularly keen to organise concerts with the orchestra’s members, local singers and choirs as the soloists. Also and in support of local charities. Here is one of Jim’s first concerts as leader. Featuring local soloists. 

programme Devon Air Ambulance 1995 inside and front. 17 18


Table of members 1995/1996 19 


In aid of the Paignton Branch of the Cancer Research Campaign, Torbay Light Orchestra joined with The Harbourne Singers to Present H.M.S. Pinafore.

Centre pages of programme Thursday May 30 1996. 20

Back page of the HMS Pinafore programme showing 3 future concerts. 21


In aid of The Leonard Cheshire Foundation, Torbay Light Orchestra performed at Oldway Mansion Paignton. Soloists were Gregory Vorster (cello) Julie Gill (trumpet) and Michael Singh (tenor) 

Poster of TLO Oldway Mansion Thursday October 22 1998. 22



The Torbay Light Orchestra played a very special concert in aid of the 175th anniversary of the RNLI. In the splendid surroundings of Oldway Mansion, Paignton the orchestra programme included Tchaikovsky’s well-loved piano concerto, played by Torbay blind pianist Roger Fordham. Appropriately, as the event was to raise money for the local Paignton branch of the RNLI, the evening’s musical entertainment ended with the Fantasia on British Sea Songs, by Sir Henry Wood. 

Newspaper cutting 1999 .23


TSO joined once again with the Harbourne singers for a concert of music from AIDA. Here is Sheila Flowers, a current member of the TSO, singing a leading role. 

White programme Front and inside April 1999. 24. 25


Summer 1999 saw the retirement of David Warwick as the musical director of the TSO for the previous ten years. It was a most successful period for the orchestra.

Derek Browning was appointed as musical director in September 1999. 

His first concert with the orchestra was on Thursday 9th March 2000. In keeping with the orchestra’s tradition it featured local soloist Lynda Grieveson from Opera South West and was in aid of the Dexa Scanner for Torbay and District Osteoporosis Society. 

Programme Thursday 9th March outside and inside 26. 27


The next concert for Derek Browning was in aid of The Robert Owen Foundation, supporting the opening of Laura House in Totnes offering opportunities for people with learning disabilities. It featured again our very own Sheila Flowers. 

Inside and outside of the programme 22 June 2000. 28. 29 


In 2001 the orchestra was renamed the Torbay Symphony Orchestra. Richard Gonski was named as its new conductor. The choice of music now reflected the change of name. Rehearsals were held at St John’s Church, Bridgetown, Totnes every Thursday. Dennis Killen remained as chairman, Michael Bryant librarian. Emma Hazard secretary, Barry Martin publicity officer, Micky Trench computerer and Ann Hall continued as concert caterer. 

Newspaper cutting Nov 2001   30 31 32


A weekend of concerts were organised on Friday November 9th in Torquay Town Hall and in Totnes on Saturday November 10th and Dartmouth on November 11th. 

Review of town hall Torquay Nov 9 33

Review of Dartmouth Flavel Centre project 34


Another concert.

TSO Friday March 7th Torquay Town Hall newspaper cutting 35


Start of write up about TSO 36 37


Review TSO Sarah Nichols/2004 debut Princess Theatre 38

Another review Sarah Nicholls 39


Story from June concert 2005 40


David Gaye’s letter to the Herald following the article mourning the death of our classical concert express. 41


David’s letter to the Herald Express pays off...

Review TSO December. 42 43 

Review TSO December 2005 (Francis Monkman changed to Joanna Bort) 44



Further praise from a concert goer in the Herald Express letters section 



Quote from our website and free music concert newspaper cutting. 46 47 48


Yet again there was an article in the Torbay Herald Express concerning lack of support for cultural events in the area.

Newspaper cutting your view letters 49


South Hams Today paper continues to support the orchestra as the TSO joins with the Plymouth Philharmonic choir in a performance of Verdi’s requiem. 

Newspaper cutting 14 sept 2007 50


The TSO continues to support local musicians. Nicholas Chave, winner of the Torbay Young musician of the year in 2007, and its principal clarinetist for several seasons, returns to the orchestra as soloist in Weber’s clarinet concerto no1 

At this concert the orchestra were very grateful to have South Hams Radio trust replace the bass drum! 

June 12 2008 newspaper cutting 51. (Redo photo)

Clarinet treat 52

Drumming up support 53


From our own website news here are some future concerts 

TSO news 27 April 2009 54

Perfect setting for the proms 55 56


An article advertising the orchestra, now in its 9th year as TSO, appears in the paper.

Musicians hitting the high note 57


The value of the TSO in the local community is explained perfectly in the Totnes today newspaper. The November concerts included ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’ by Aaron Copeland, ‘Inconrti’ by Luigi Nono, Brahms violin concerto with the young Estonian soloist Kaija Lukas and Tchaikovsky Symphony no 6. 

The concert in Torquay took place in the hall of the Torquay Boys Grammar school with Chris Eastman, an old boy of the grammar school and the orchestra’s new leader. The orchestra continues to give audiences the opportunity to hear rarely performed new works. Young KEVICC student 13 year old Molly Lopresti-Richards plays in the concert. 

Wed Nov 30th newspaper cutting 58 

Old boy brings orchestra back to the school. 59

Orchestra to perform 60


Every concert includes an eclectic mix of the traditional and the modern, every concert showcases a young musician of outstanding talent; every concert offers the opportunity to enjoy an always expanding musical repertoire. 

Here is a wonderful article about the TSO.

Orchestra is a real hidden gem. 61



The TSO plays in St Peters Church in Shaldon for the first time on Saturday March 10th 2012. 

It included 21st century music, ‘Tiento de Quarto Tono’ by Francis Monkman and also featured several youngsters in the orchestra. 

Orchestra hits new heights. 62

Orchestra to play Austrian composer’s symphony no 5. 63

Pathos and peace 64


A lovely letter in the Torbay Herald Express newspaper praises the orchestra in a concert held in the beautiful St Mary’s Church in St Marychurch, Torquay on March 2014.

Magnificent Orchestra. 65


The orchestra launches a programme of solely classical music for its concert weekends on Saturday November 15th and Sunday November 16th 2014. It invites once again the hugely talented violinist Elena Abad Martinez to play with the orchestra. She is studying at the Guildhall School of Music and drama with Professor Ofer Falk. She performs Bruch violin concerto.

Classical series of concerts launched 66

Programme title page Saturday 15th Sunday 16th November 2014 67

Successfully advertising future concerts in the programme. 68

Description of the orchestra back page programme. 69

Book mark advertisement. 70


In 2015 the orchestra continues performing two symphonies at its concerts. 

It invites once again the young cellist from the Ligeti Quartet, Valerie Wellbanks, to perform the Dvorak cello concerto. She had delighted everyone with her excellent performance of the Lutoslawski cello concerto in 2013. 

Programme title page June 20th and 21st 2015 71


In November 2015 the orchestra played a new work by its trombone player John Goldie Scott. ‘Kaleidoscope’ was premiered at St. Peter’s Church in Shaldon.


In March 2016 we were thrilled to have our principal horn player Rachel Strange as soloist in the Richard Strauss horn concerto. This, along with Beethoven Symphony no 2 and Schumann symphony no 2, were performed in St Mary’s Church, Torquay and also at St John’s Church in Totnes.

Advert Beethoven Strauss and Schumann. 72


We continued to advertise our three weekend series of concerts with bookmarks available in the autumn term. 

Following the June series of concerts the orchestra now takes part in the opening of the Kingskerswell Summer Moon Festival. We open the event with a ‘Last Night of the Proms’ style concert featuring music from our June concert plus wonderful prom favourites - Edward Elgar’s ‘Pomp and Circumstance March no 1’ Henry Wood’s ‘Fantasia on British Sea Songs’, Thomas Arne’s ‘Rule,Britannia!’ and finally Hubert Parry’s ‘Jerusalem’

These Prom concerts have become a highlight of the Kingskerswell Festival and are always sold out. The audience are so enthusiastic with their singing and love every minute!

Photographs from the proms (choose a few from my iPad) 


Autumn 2016 saw the beginning of the themed weekend concerts, workshops and lectures at KEVICCS.

The first was a ‘family affair’ for the very talented McLauchlans.

It’s a family affair. 73

Pages from programme showing the biographies. 74 75 

Title page of programme. 76


The June concert of 2017 featured the wonderful Professor Ofer Falk. He plays regularly with the TSO and it is a must to include his biography.

Biography Ofer Falk. 77


The autumn weekend of themed music continued in 2017 with music for a variety of stringed instruments. Individual soloists performed on viola, violin, cello and our own Danny Cleave on Double Bass.