"Didcot's new symphony orchestra"

Principal sponsor:


Didcot Concert Orchestra
The continuing expansion of Didcot is bringing more orchestral musicians and ever-larger potential concert audiences to the area. Didcot Concert Orchestra is the first high-quality amateur concert-giving symphony orchestra based in Didcot. It aims to bring together the best players, so participation is by invitation or audition. Professional players are engaged to lead each string section. Players meet for four rehearsals, usually in a ten day period, before each concert. DCO gave its inaugural concert at Cornerstone in February 2018, and now gives three concerts every year – usually in February, May and October.

DCO's repertoire focuses on concert classics from the late-Romantic era, and a key feature is tuneful, unjustly neglected works from this period – at least one such "rare gem" in each concert. Repertoire suggestions are welcome from players, with the final decision made by the musical director. Concerto and soloist repertoire are played subject to platform space in venue and budget.

DCO is a not-for-profit, charitable, unincorporated association, and is underwritten by founders Jackie and Geoff Bushell.

 In 2022, DCO initiated a partnership with Ukrainian composer Anna Kuzina-Rozhdestvenskaya, which is resulting in the performance of one of her pieces in two DCO concerts in 2022 and 2023, as part of DCO's empathy with the people of Ukraine at a very difficult time for them and their country.

Boundless gratitude to you and the artists of your orchestra for supporting our country! Such incredible solidarity of your country with Ukraine touches to the depths of the soul and is a tremendous support for us.  
Anna Kuzina-Rozhdestvenskaya, June 2022

Didcot Concert Orchestra in a nutshell...

  • Didcot's new performing symphony orchestra
  • High standard performances at Cornerstone, Didcot
  • Three concerts annually in February, May and October
  • Convenient Sunday afternoon concerts at 4pm
  • Affordable concerts without travelling to Oxford or London
  • Repertoire contains popular concert classics and unjustly neglected gems rarely heard in the concert hall
  • Not for profit, charitable aims
  • Opportunities for publicity and visible sponsorship of the arts


Geoff Bushell, conductor

Didcot Town Council Artistic Award 2019

Aylesbury Vale Concert Orchestra

Geoff Bushell studied conducting with George Hurst, Denise Ham, Michael Rose and Adrian Leaper. He has been conductor and musical director of Oxford-based St Giles Orchestra since 1983, regularly conducts Abingdon Symphony Orchestra and other orchestras in the Oxfordshire area. Highlights of Geoff's conducting career have included large-scale performances of Orff's Carmina Burana, Verdi's Requiem and Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius with 200 performers, and a recording of Walton's Crown Imperial March which was broadcast on the BBC One Show. With a growing repertoire of over 400 different works conducted in public concerts, Geoff is renowned for introducing players and audiences to lesser-known but unjustly neglected romantic repertoire, and has conducted several UK premieres of these. Geoff also composes romantic-style pieces, including four commissions from the Abingdon and District Musical Society to celebrate its major anniversaries.

In October 2019, Geoff was awarded the Didcot Town Council Artistic Award, marking over 30 concerts conducted in Didcot over a 30-year period, together with the joint founding with his wife Jackie of Didcot Concert Orchestra.

In February 2022, Geoff was invited to conduct the newly-formed 70-piece Aylesbury Vale Concert Orchestra in a charity concert featuring international guitar soloist Xuefei Yang and Classic FM presenter John Brunning at Aylesbury's Waterside Theatre.


Kate Bailey, leader
Kate Bailey began her violin studies with Pamela Spofforth at the age of nine, and was an early member of Pro Corda, where she gained a love of chamber music. Whilst reading Music at University College, Oxford, she studied with David Ogden and Emanuel Hurwitz, and then went on to study with Erika Klemperer at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Kate has played in the string quartet OXUS for the last ten years, specializing in approachable contemporary works such as Steve Reich's "Different Trains" and Elvis Costello's "The Juliet Letters". She is also a founder member of The Holywell Ensemble (formed in 1984), a flexible chamber group renowned for its committed and evocative performances of British chamber music on CD and in the concert hall, which was described by the BBC Music Magazine as "one of the most important chamber music groups on the British musical scene."

Kate lives in Oxford, and regularly leads a number of orchestras in the area. She is also a freelance orchestral player and has performed a number of concertos, including Beethoven's Triple Concerto with her colleagues from The Holywell Ensemble, and in March 2018 she performed Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante with viola player Heather Birt. When she is not doing something musical, she enjoys photography, writing and trying to learn Turkish.


OXUS String Quartet
Louise Graham lives in Headington and is a freelance violinist and teacher. She studied under Bela Dekany at the Guildhall School of Music, and plays in various local orchestras, leads the Erato Chamber Orchestra and is a member of OXUS. She teaches privately and for the Oxfordshire County Music Service.

Heather Birt works as a freelance viola player with many period ensembles including Academy of Ancient Music, Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, The King's Consort, The English Concert and The Mozartists. Heather has performed in several BBC Promenade concerts and appears on many recordings, including the highly regarded Pachelbel Vespers CD with the Kings Singers. Heather also plays Double Bass in Allen Beechey's Bright Stars of Jazz, and has performed at numerous jazz festivals in Britain and Europe.

Spike Wilson won a choral exhibition to The Queen's College, Oxford, and now leads a busy musical life combining cello-playing in chamber groups (including The Holywell Ensemble and OXUS) and orchestras, with coaching chamber groups and directing several school and youth orchestras. He coaches for the Oxford Cello School and the Oxford Chamber Course and is much in demand as a cello teacher, with many adult and younger pupils.

Our four section leaders are the members of OXUS – an innovative and vibrant string quartet, formed in 2006. They perform music from all eras, but specialise in contemporary repertoire and give regular recitals and workshops in schools and colleges. They frequently work with other performers and media, performing works including Steve Reich's Different Trains with electronics; an original composition by and with jazz guitarist Pete Oxley; and, with actor-singer Nicholas Cass-Beggs, The Juliet Letters by Elvis Costello and The Brodsky Quartet. Performances include appearances at the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, the Oxford Contemporary Music Marathon, and the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and they have also enjoyed the challenge of working with artist Pam Foley, composing and improvising, for a project on Chronic Grief, entitled Routes of Sorrow.


Ed Vaizey, MP
I am delighted that Didcot Concert Orchestra has been established. Didcot is a vibrant and growing town, and the arts have always been a central part of its life. The concert orchestra fills a gap, and it is very much needed. Music brings great joy to people, and it also plays an important role in our schools and our communities. I wish Didcot Concert Orchestra every success.   

Lord Vaizey of Didcot

Former MP & Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries

Honorary President, Didcot Concert Orchestra

Wonderful performance by the Didcot Concert Orchestra tonight     Twitter, 14 October 2018


Conductor & Musical Director
Geoff Bushell
Didcot, Oxfordshire

Geoff Bushell, Conductor and Musical Director, Didcot Concert Orchestra
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