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Welcome! We are so pleased that you have joined Bristol Symphony Orchestra. Without you there would be no orchestra, and we are so proud that within a few months we have managed to fill the orchestra seats with such fine and friendly musicians. We are looking forward to many happy years of music making.

Will's Conducting Approach


  • Fostering a positive, calm, welcoming and relaxed environment for members to enjoy making music

  • Encouraging each player to improve and achieve their very best at every rehearsal. Building confidence

  • Developing and strengthening listening and awareness skills to support musical understanding and improve orchestral ensemble

  • Understanding technical difficulties and how to overcome them

  • Developing musicianship and sensitivity

  • Supporting the Leader and section principals to achieve their best

  • Communicating a love of music and an interest in the background and context of each work 

  • Encouraging professionalism in rehearsal through punctual starts and attentive rehearsals; and in performance, through improving concentration, courage and a positive stage presence

  • In rehearsal, carefully balancing playing through with focused and detailed work on small sections

  • Having fun whilst working hard and making progress

Question & Answer with Pamela and Will


Pamela Bell: Leader of the Orchestra


Q: Why did you want to start a new orchestra when Bristol has so many already?

A: Together with violinists Robert Tulloh and Aimee Cottam, we formed the orchestra to experience new musical journeys under the baton of our maestro, William Goodchild. Bristol has a number of well-established and excellent orchestras; this reflects the passion for live music events from those who live in and around the city.


Q:  How have you found getting new players for the orchestra?

A:  It has been great to offer more opportunities for wind players to join a symphony orchestra.  Bristol Symphony Orchestra has a vibrant and enthusiastic culture; we have in a relatively short period of 3 months nearly filled all of our vacancies with warm, friendly and talented musicians.


Q:  Do you see this new orchestra as long term?

A:  Bristol Symphony Orchestra is here to stay. It has wonderful musicians, a committed and skilled management team, and its vision is to grow. Watch this space!


Q: What does the leader of the orchestra do?

A: As Principal Leader, my key role is to energise and motivate musicians. I am passionate about achieving high performance standards and believe that this is best achieved by cultivating a friendly and welcoming environment where each and every musician is treated with respect and their contribution is valued. I operate a rotational seating plan throughout the string section, which gives musicians the opportunity to get to know each other. I also work closely with Will to provide him with any support he needs to deliver great performances. 



William Goodchild: Conductor and Artistic Director


Q Why did you say yes to conduct this new orchestra for Bristol?

A: It's an exciting new venture and I like a challenge! Pamela Bell is a wonderful orchestral leader, a warm and friendly person, and also a strategic thinker - an essential quality when starting something as ambitious as a new orchestra! An excellent team quickly formed around the idea - I was so delighted to be asked to be involved! The orchestra is of a very high standard, comprising excellent amateur players, music teachers and one or two professional players. Many are creative musicians, with backgrounds that combine performing with arranging or composing, and across different styles too, including jazz, electronica and world music. The orchestra has such a vibrant spirit. The players are passionate about their music making and work with intensity in rehearsals so the Orchestra performs at its very best.


Q: As creative musical director and conductor, what are your plans for the year ahead?

A: There is much excitement about the Orchestra from everyone involved. We have three fantastic concerts ahead - everyone is enjoying working hard in rehearsal and we're all looking forward to the performances. We shall be collaborating with a diverse range of top soloists, like concert violinist Natalia Lomeiko and master kora player Mamadou Cissokkho. Our range of programmes features music by established and popular composers alongside brand new works.


Q:  How are you promoting the orchestra?

A:  The orchestra has an imaginative, skilled and hard working marketing team who recognize the importance of making connections across the region. We are lucky enough to have a designer who has created all our branding and a fresh and contemporary website. We already have a strong presence on all social media channels and enjoy engaging with our audiences. We have just been nominated for the Regional Awards ‘New Business Award,’ which has been exciting at this early stage.


Q:  How do you go about writing a piece for Kora and Orchestra

A: This has been a unique collaboration from start to finish. Senegalese master kora player, Mamadou Cissokho and I met in January to discuss ideas for the piece: what form and shape the work might take, and how to embody the kora and its West African roots in a new piece with symphony orchestra. We began meeting regularly to share musical ideas, playing together and recording. I then set to work, orchestrating passages from the recordings we had made, and developing the structure as the piece gradually took shape. At each stage, we would listen, review and adjust sections and fine details of the work. We finally settled on three distinct movements, each with their own character, and added a cadenza for solo kora. The piece lasts about 15 minutes. In addition to solo kora and symphony orchestra, there are two Senegalese drummers and a world percussionist joining us on stage. The work has brought together two very different musical traditions and we hope the audience will love the results of what has been a unique collaboration. Many thanks to Bristol High Sheriff, Helen Wilde, for such an unusual and inspiring commission.





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Website design & build by Rachel Goodchild Design

Website Photos by Rosa Fay Photography

and Remco Merbis