Neighbourly invite

Stephen ElleryStephen Ellery

Stephen Ellery is conductor of the London Gala Orchestra – which has recently become resident orchestra at St John's Church in Leytonstone – and Wanstead residents are invited to enjoy their concert this month.

I grew up in Leytonstone playing clarinet and guitar. At school we had a band called The Orbits. In 1988 I left England to study music in Poland, which was just freeing itself from the Iron Curtain. In search of adventure and more music, I went further east and studied for four years in St Petersburg under the famous conducting teacher Ilya Musin. From 1995 I spent two years working in opera theatres in Vladivostok and Yakutsk. During the summers I played concerts in Peru. From 1998 I spent seven years in Japan and go back frequently to conduct concerts and operas.

I have worked with major orchestras in Poland and we regularly tour Germany and Denmark. In 2019 we embark on a Game of Thrones 30-date tour of Switzerland, Germany and Austria followed by a tour of China.

I met Leytonstone-based musician Wilfred Goddard of the London Gala Orchestra (LGO) in 2011 and was fascinated by his exciting UK touring activity, performing at, among other venues, Sadler's Wells Theatre, the London Coliseum, Royal Albert Hall and Royal Festival Hall. So it followed that for my next St Martin in the Fields concert in 2012 I engaged the LGO. That concert was very well received and since then we have worked together many times at such places as New Year Viennese music concerts in Bath and Salisbury, summer open-air concerts in Bedford Park and Castle Howard, as well as a CD recording of Mozart's Clarinet Concerto. Each year, the LGO performs at over 40 venues across the country, providing an exciting range of concerts, musical events and corporate entertainment. In the past year alone, the LGO has played to over 50,000 people, many of them attending on a regular basis.

Soloists who have appeared with the LGO range from Placido Domingo, Paul Potts and Aled Jones to local crossover artists such as Charlotte Jaconelli (from Chigwell) and Joanna Forest (from Loughton).

We began performing at St John's Church during the Leytonstone Festival in 2015 and over the past three years have seen an optimistic growth in our local audience. After our well-attended Classics for Pleasure concert in January, Reverend David Britton suggested the LGO could become the resident orchestra of the church, so we immediately set out to plan the first series of concerts, beginning with our opera double bill this month.

Over the rest of the year, we will also perform an open-air spectacular at Gisborough Priory on 29 July, a Polish centenary concert at the Royal Albert Hall on 11 November and the New Year Viennese Gala at Saffron Walden on 5 January.

The London Gala Orchestra will perform at St John's Church in Leytonstone on 7 July from 7.30pm (tickets from £8). For more information, visit

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