Amadeus Chamber Orchestra was formed in 1975, by its first conductor Keith Swanwick, and quickly became established as the local chamber orchestra of St Albans. From that time on, Amadeus has delighted local audiences with its persistently high standard of performance. Simon Thompson took over from Keith Swanwick and conducted the orchestra for almost 30 years from 1988 to 2017. Players from the area, including many music teachers as well as talented amateurs, meet several times throughout the year, giving their services free in order to make music together. The orchestra varies in size from 25 to 50 players, depending on the repertoire being performed. The concerts have featured many of the major classical works for chamber orchestra from the 17th to the 20th centuries, as well as a wide range of concertos.
Over the years, Amadeus has played with many internationally known artists including Alexander Baillie (cello), Andrew Watkinson (violin), Sarah Williamson (clarinet), and David Pyatt (horn). As well as providing a platform for up-and-coming soloists from the music conservatoires, members of the orchestra have also featured as soloists. Over the years, the orchestra has performed with a number of local choral groups, including Voix de Vivre, Mosaic Chamber Choir, Carillon, and the St Albans Chamber Choir.
Jennifer Wigram has been leader of the orchestra since 1996.
Our Leader, Jennifer Wigram
Jennifer Wigram grew up in Hertfordshire, studying at Watford School of Music and leading the County Youth Orchestra for three years under Leonard Hirsch, including a performance of the Fantasia on a Theme of Thomas Tallis in the Royal Albert Hall. She read music at Bristol University, where she led all the orchestras and performed Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending in the new Roman Catholic Cathedral. After postgraduate study at the Royal College of Music she settled in St Albans where she was appointed leader of St Albans Symphony Orchestra in 1981. She often takes a solo role with the orchestra, including performances of Max Bruch’s 1st Violin Concerto, The Lark Ascending and other solos in St Albans Abbey.
Having played with the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra since 1978, she has been very pleased to lead the orchestra since the mid-1990s, working for many of those years with Simon Thompson as conductor. Jennifer often gives recitals, both as soloist and chamber musician, including performances with other members of her family, and gives concerts for charities. For the last five years, she has prepared music and led the orchestra for opera performances (various Wagner operas including the Ring Cycle and Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress) at the Saffron Hall in Saffron Walden. She teaches violin and viola, and conducts junior orchestras for which she has often arranged music.