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About us

The Cornwall Chamber Orchestra was formed in the 1980s by the late Joyce Preston, a professional violinist, and who for many years led the Penzance Orchestral Society.  The founding of the Chamber Orchestra was chiefly to explore different and earlier repertoires not normally included in symphonic programmes.

Now based in Helston, we perform four concerts a year in local churches, each for a particular charity.  Each of the churches chooses, with us, its own charity, and we take a small proportion of the takings to cover the cost of hiring and buying music.  The orchestra receives no funding, and those of us who have had professional musical training are happy to give their services free.

Over the years the orchestra has expanded a bit to include a few more wind players on a regular basis.  Since becoming our conductor in 2002, Judith Bailey has broadened the repertoire to include several works from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Judith enjoys discovering what works are available for our current forces, which include a small but flexible wind section with strings.  Alongside well-known composers such as Bach, Brahms, Haydn, Telemann, and Rameau, Judith has incorporated several British composers in her programming over the years, including:

  • Alan Rawsthorne’s ‘Divertimento’

  • William Lewarne Harris’ ‘Rescorla Variations’

  • Frank Bayford’s ‘An Essex Prelude’

  • Paul Carr’s ‘A Very English Music’

  • Adrian Self’s ‘In Memoriam’

  • Richard Arnell’s ‘Sonata for Chamber Orchestra, Op.18’

  • Stephen Brown’s ‘Trois Petites Bouchées’

  • Judith Bailey's 'Hampshire Pictures' and 'Cliff Walk Symphony'


We continue to seek out interesting and challenging pieces to play and perform from all eras and welcome any suggestions!

Judith Bailey

Judith Bailey was born in Cornwall and studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London, specialising in clarinet, piano, conducting and composition.  Since 1971 she has worked freelance, conducting Petersfield Orchestra and Southampton Concert Orchestra for around thirty years, and producing a substantial amount of music widely performed and published.

In 2001 she returned to live and work in her native Cornwall when was awarded an ARAM.  In the same year, she became the conductor of the Penzance Orchestral Society, remaining in that role until 2023.  She was made a Bard of the Cornish Gorseth for services to music in Cornwall in 2005.

Judith has conducted the Chamber Orchestra since 2002 following in the footsteps of the late Dr. Edward Weymouth who taught music at Helston and the late Russell Jory who taught music at Humphrey Davy School and was organist at St  Mary's Penzance for many years. 

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Jenny Rapson

Jenny Rapson has been playing the violin since she was seven years old. She is the leader of the Cornwall Chamber Orchestra and plays with the James Hook Players early music ensemble as well as the Corineus Quartet, In the past she has a been Musical Director of Helston Theatre Company, and credits include Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dream Coat, Oliver!, Me and My Girl and Meet Me in St Louis. These days she divides her time between performing and teaching the violin, farming and horse riding.

Jenny took over the leadership of the Chamber Orchestra in 2010 succeeding Joyce Preston, the orchestra's founder.

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