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 The Erato Orchestra, which takes its name from one of the Ancient Greek Muses,  was founded by Neil Butterworth in the early 1960s to give concerts for the Merton and Morden Music Club.  Neil conducted all the concerts for the first few years when it was decided to extend the repertoire by accompanying local choirs.  During the next nine years the orchestra played regularly for many groups including the Ashtead Choral, Banstead Musical and Redhill and Reigate Choral Societies, and for the Royal School of Church Music.  Neil continued to conduct the orchestral concerts until 1968 when he moved to a post in Edinburgh.   From 1968 until 1974 Barry Wordsworth, who was organist at St Dunstan’s Church, Cheam, gained some of his early conducting experience when he took over the orchestral concerts, but he had to relinquished these when he became principal conductor of the Sadlers Wells Royal Ballet.  He was the principal conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra for 17 years and has been appointed the orchestra's Conductor Laureate.  In April 2007  Barry was appointed Music Director of the Royal Ballet Covent Garden, having previously held the position from 1990-1995. He is also the conductor of the Birmingham Royal Ballet.  


Following Barry’s departure the orchestra was fortunate when Howard Snell, who was then a Wallington resident and Chairman and principal trumpet in the LSO offered to conduct a series of orchestral concerts for one year which eventually blossomed into a regular partnership for seven years.  It was decided to revert to the orchestra’s original purpose of giving only orchestral concerts and for three years the concerts were given in Sutton’s Baptist Church and Christ Church, before moving to St Michael’s Church, Wallington which remained the orchestra’s “home” for 16 years.  Howard conducted 23 concerts over seven years and these included performances of all twelve Haydn “London” symphonies. After Howard Snell’s moved away from Wallington the orchestra invited Robert Stewart and Malcolm Binney as guest conductors, and since 1983 Ian Butterworth, Neil’s younger brother, has been Musical  Director and conductor of the orchestra and nearly all concerts have included a symphony from Haydn’s “middle” period. Over the years the orchestra has performed 44 of Haydn's 104 symphonies.   In 1994 the Erato moved to its current concert venue, St Mark’s Church, Woodcote, Purley presenting three concerts annually.


Over the years many soloist have appeared with the orchestra including Sir Thomas Allen, Jack Brymer, Douglas Cummings, Clive Lythgoe, Celia Nicklin, Howard Snell and John Wilbraham, but the orchestra has always looked to encourage local performers at the beginning of their careers: the pianists Alan Brown and Judith Burton, Stephen Bryant (leader of the BBC Symphony Orchestra), Roger Coull (leader of the resident quartet at Warwick University), David Curtis (former viola player in the Coull Quartet and now conductor of the Orchestra of the Swan) and Katherine Baker (principal flute in the Hallé Orchestra) all made some of their earliest solo appearances with the Erato.  Russell Keable, conductor of the Kensington Symphony Orchestra and several other orchestras was a violinist in the Erato for several years.  As well as playing locally the orchestra has performed in St Alban’s Abbey, Beverley Minster, Guildford Cathedral and St John’s, Smith Square. 

The orchestra has given well over 200 performances.

IAN BUTTERWORTH had his first opportunity to conduct at his junior school when he was invited by his teacher to direct the school choir.  He started to learn the violin in a small group at secondary school but soon moved on to the Royal College of Music as a Junior Exhibitioner, and he later studied at Nottingham and London Universities.  For many years he led the Morley College Chamber and the Salomon Orchestras, playing under such distinguished conductors as Andrew Davis, Simon Rattle and John Eliot Gardiner.  He has also led orchestras for Bryden Thomson, Rumon Gamba and Edward Gardner.  As conductor of the Croydon Youth  and the Gwent Youth Orchestras he has directed performances in Amsterdam, Budapest, Luxembourg, Zurich, Paris and in the Czech Republic and Italy. 



Barry Wordsworth


Russell Keable


Howard Snell


Roger Coull


Kensington Symphony Orchestra


Salomon Orchestra