York BarbicanYork Barbican

Orchestra in Residence

“The City of York can be proud of the orchestra that bears its name.”

York’s renowned Guildhall Orchestra is one of the leading orchestral ensembles in the North of England.  It is an exceptionally fine and large amateur/volunteer symphony orchestra. 

Regularly working with top class international soloists, it is capable of giving high-quality performances of some of the most demanding large-scale works in the orchestral repertoire.

Our Spring concert in May - the last in our 36th season - came to a very satisfying conclusion with a near capacity audience and a very full stage of some 95 players!

It is always a true privilege to hear a virtuoso put their instrument through its paces - Alison Balsom most certainly did that.  Her trumpet playing was absolutely sublime - she was a joy to work with in rehearsals and her playing on the night was awesome.  Her encore (an arrangement of Debussy’s Syrinx originally written for flute) was simply breathtaking.  And she enjoyed herself so much she wants to come back!

Next season is now fully planned out and our soloists are booked.  We are thrilled that Jamie Walton is returning in October.  Peter Donohoe has been asking for a while to return and play with us again - we shall see him in February next year.  And finally in May, we shall let our hair down a little with a Proms style concert, featuring the superlative voice of Louise Winter.

The orchestra will continue its plan to perform all the major orchestra works of Jean Sibelius; this season it will be the turn of his fourth symphony.  This is a challenging work, but nonetheless very rewarding to listen to and appreciate how Sibelius was really starting to develop his own style.  We shall also include in each concert a piece of that quintessential English composer, Sir Edward Elgar, commencing in October with a welcome return of one of his most popular works, the Variations on an original theme - perhaps better known as the Enigma Variations.

Do please come along and support this splendid group of players - we look forward to seeing you at one of our concerts!

Venue and tickets

The York Barbican is located on Paragon Street, York, YO10 4AH.

Tickets are available from the Barbican box office - by phone on
0844 854 2757, or via their web site.  You can collect tickets during box office opening hours which are 10:00am to 2:00pm on weekdays - or from 6:30pm on concert days.

We would urge anyone wanting to come to our concerts to try and sort out their tickets before turning up on the night.   The box office is open from 6:30pm on the day of the concert, but it can get very busy.

Next Season...

15th October, 2016 - 7:30pm

  • Strauss - Don Juan
  • Dvorak - Cello Concerto
          soloist - Jamie Walton
  • Elgar - Enigma Variations
Jamie Walton (2)

“Walton’s range of utterance is rich, subtly inflected and a towering testament to his innate musicality and profound thinking.”
Geoffrey Norris, Telegraph

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11th February 2017 - 7:30pm

  • Elgar - Cockaigne Overture
  • Sibelius - Symphony No.4
  • Rachmaninov - Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini:
           soloist - Peter Donohoe
  • Rimsky-Korsakov - Capriccio Espanol
2 Donohoe Portrait 2 (Susie Ahlburg)

“Peter Donohoe played as if visited by the spirit of Rachmaninov”,
Rian Evans, The Guardian

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13th May, 2017 - 7:30pm

  • Blackford - Concert Overture (World Premiere)
  • Wagner - Lohengrin, Prelude to Act 1
  • Elgar - Sea Pictures:
            soloist - Louise Winter
  • Poulenc - Les Biches
  • Elgar - Pomp & Circumstance March No.1
  • Trad arr. Henry Wood - Fantasia on British Sea Songs
  • Arne arr. Malcolm Sargent - Rule Britannia
  • Parry arr. Elgar - Jerusalem
Louise Winter

“...Louise Winter a warmly maternal Larina.”  Eugine Onegin/Garsington,
Sunday Times, June 2016

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Sponsorship & support...

For any performing organisation, presenting concerts is a challenge, not least because of the expense.  The committee of the orchestra work hard in a voluntary capacity to keep expenditure to a minimum, however costs can be quite startling.

The orchestra continuously strives to balance the twin aims of improving the already high standard of performance and the increasing popularity of the concerts, whilst at the same time advancing financial stability.  A major influence on the financial status of the orchestra is the increasingly necessary support from commercial sponsors.

Please the Sponsorship page for more information on how you might be able to exploit the possibilities that sponsorship of a respected and renowned organisation like the York Guildhall Orchestra.  Further information can be obtained from our Corporate Affairs Manager, Peter Vaughan.


The loyal support of patrons make an invaluable contribution to its success and financial security.  This enables the orchestra to promote exciting events that otherwise would be impractical.  for more information on how you could support the orchestra, please visit the Patrons page


At the request of many friends of the orchestra, we have been asked to set up a mailing list.  This has now been done and if anyone wants to receive the occasional newsletter with information about the orchestra and future concerts, please send an email to  friends@yorkguildhallorchestra.com