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Our history

Ernest Read Symphony Orchestra (ERSO) came about thanks to the late Ernest Read. A fantastic organist, he was committed to developing the musical talents of others and it was this love that drove him to teach, adjudicate, and found the youth orchestra movement - now a bedrock of our music education system.

In 1926, Ernest created the London Junior Orchestra, which quickly multiplied into four London youth orchestras with 11 affiliates outside the capital, and was followed in 1931 by the creation of ERSO. From the beginning, ERSO brought together talented music students, young professionals keen to continue developing and accomplished amateurs - a mix that continues today.

Ernest was passionate about spreading his musical gospel as widely as possible - in particular to children and young people, while providing orchestral training. His orchestras played in schools, concert halls and the BBC studios, culminating in the birth of the renowned Ernest Read Concerts for Children in 1945. Providing short programmes, accessible explanations and audience participation, these daytime concerts were a sell out for 30 years!