SSO was founded in 1961 by London Philharmonic Orchestra clarinettist Bernard Izen, with the first concert including Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante for Winds, performed by fellow LPO principals on 17 February 1962. In 1963, distinguished horn player and composer Anthony Randall become SSO's Music Director, serving until 2005, when at the end of a year-long search, the Orchestra elected James Ross to be his successor. SSO has presented frequent concerts in the London Borough of Bexley, and toured in the UK, Germany and The Netherlands. Prominent soloists have included John Lill, Dennis Mathews, Jack Brymer, Alan Civil, Dame Felicity Lott and Julian Lloyd Webber.
55 years on, SSO thrives with over 50 members rehearsing and performing frequent concerts in and around Sidcup in South East London, driven by a love of music and the opportunity to collaborate together as an orchestra. Many members have made oustanding contributions over decades, including the late Eddie Le Gouais, who left us a generous financial legacy; the redoubtable John Elliot who was treasurer for many years; Lily and Gordon Humphress; Enid Palmer; Norman Worley; David Dick; Ian Brown; Hugh Lockington and recently Jean Humphreys and Diana Woodward - a long-standing patron and one of our Vice-Presidents, Ann and Ken Dawe, and our former President, Tom Bewsey OBE, who played with SSO in over 300 concerts into his nineties. We miss them all and remember them fondly. Sheila Youngs, one of our founder members, still supports us at the concert box office with her husband Malcolm.
Looking to the future, we aim to offer the best possible musical experience to our playing members, and to share great orchestral music to as many people as possible throughout our community in South East London. We play a huge range of music from classical chamber orchestra repertore to Mahler symphonies, to film scores: the famous and familiar, together with introducing exciting new and rarely played works. SSO has collaborated closely with Bird College of Dance, Music and Theatre Performance, given concerts in support of national- and locally-based charities, and is committed to working and interacting as closely as possible with its community.