23 Nov 2019 Jubilee Concert










9th (including AGM)



30th No rehearsal - half term




23rd (Saturday) Rehearsal 2.30 pm to 5.30 pm and Concert 7.30 pm - St Mary’s Church, Hitchin

Autumn Term 2020

Rehearsals are currently suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

10 July 2021 Concert








19th No rehearsal - half term







8th No rehearsal - Easter holiday

15th No rehearsal - Easter holiday





16th (Saturday) Rehearsal 2.30 pm to 5.30 pm and Concert 7.30 pm - St Mary’s Church, Hitchin

PaR edited.jpg


Paul Adrian Rooke was born in Peterborough and educated at Bishop’s Stortford College and at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. After graduating with a Music (Honours) degree he spent 36 years teaching music in secondary schools, before retiring in 2002. He has now established himself as a freelance musical originator and editor; transcribing and editing music by Elgar in particular. Paul is Chief Originator (musical typesetter) for The Elgar Complete Edition.

Paul has conducted and composed since his student days. The list of his compositions includes various carols and solo songs, song-cycles, a String Trio, a Flute Concerto, a Saxophone Concerto and an opera. His two symphonies were given their premières by Hitchin Symphony Orchestra in November 2001 and 2006 – both of which were very favourably received. Panegyric, written in memory of John McCabe, was given its first performance in July 2016 and Sixty Years of Harmony, a song written for the diamond jubilee celebrations of Stevenage Male Voice Choir, was given its first and several successive performances in 2018. Paul is currently working on his third symphony.


In April 1984 Paul conducted a most successful production of the children’s opera The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by John McCabe. This was performed in the presence of the composer. The following September Paul became conductor of Hitchin Concert Orchestra. He has now performed a wide repertoire of music by 20th century English composers, plus adventurous modern works by Jeremy Aknai, Malcolm Arnold, Douglas Coombes, Gordon Crosse, Peter Maxwell Davies, George Lloyd, John McCabe, Edmund Rubbra, Robert Simpson, Martin Vishnik – and himself. Paul’s preference, while acknowledging readily the supreme masterpieces composed by the great Classical and Romantic composers, has always been for British music of the nineteenth century and onward. This has formed a large part of the orchestra’s repertoire under his direction.

2019–20 Season​


This season we celebrate two outstanding successes:

  • The orchestra's 90th year of its founding by Mary Ibberson in 1929;

  • The 50th anniversary, in November 2019, of Janet Hicks as the orchestra's Leader. We believe this staggering achievement is not matched by any other orchestral Leader, whether of an amateur or professional orchestra.


Janet Hicks personally chose the programme for her Golden Jubilee Concert on Saturday 23 November 2019. In addition to pieces by George Butterworth and Edward German, HSO welcomed back soloist Peter Bussereau to play the Schumann Violin Concerto and Dvořák Romance for Violin and Orchestra.

The programme for HSO's concert on Saturday 16 May 2020 was specially chosen by Paul Adrian Rooke. For a number of years Paul was Music Adviser to The Rutland Boughton Music Trust. He transcribed a large number of pieces from manuscript, some of which had never been performed. A Summer Night is a symphonic poem of great beauty and passion that he transcribed in 2010. It was recorded on CD for the first time later that year.


Fenella Humphreys is one of the UK's most established and versatile violinists. Her playing has been described in the press as 'alluring', unforgettable' and 'a wonder'. She has appeared once previously with HSO, giving a stunning and memorable performance of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto. 'Fenella is a brilliant violinist,' said Paul, 'and I know her performance of the ever-popular Bruch concerto will be totally stunning – not to be missed!' Paul's own second symphony was composed and first performed in 2005. 'I'm actually quite moved by this piece,' said Paul, 'and I hope the audience will be too'.


To find out more, please visit our Concerts page.

Guest Conductor

Malcolm Hicks graduated in Music at the University of Birmingham, where he was also Assistant Master of the Music at the Cathedral as a student. After postgraduate studies in piano, cello, singing and conducting at the Guildhall School of Music, he has since enjoyed a full-time freelance career as a keyboard player, conductor and chorus-master, based in London. He has played extensively with all the major London orchestras, in South Bank concerts, Proms, many broadcasts for radio and TV, films, recordings, and on tour abroad, countless times to Europe, several times to the Far East, with concerts in China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea - and to North and South America and the former USSR, principally, until recent semi-retirement, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

Having always played for church (and synagogue) he has been organist at St James’s Piccadilly for many years. As a chorus-master he has had the hugely rewarding experience of preparing choirs for many of the most eminent conductors, from Boult to Boulez, with many illustrious groups, including the Royal Choral Society, London Symphony Chorus, London Philharmonic Choir, BBC Symphony Chorus, and BBC Singers. He has conducted a continuous series of concerts with choirs and orchestras, mainly in Hertfordshire, Surrey and Hampshire, and in central London. Malcolm was conductor of Hitchin Concert Orchestra (as HSO was called then) from 1968 to 1984. He became conductor of a choir in Farnham, Surrey at about that time, and relinquished conductorship of the Hitchin Orchestra, where he was succeeded by his very good friend and colleague, Paul Rooke, who directed it with such distinction until July 2019. Naturally, Malcolm is very sad about the circumstances that lead to him standing in temporarily as conductor. He is, however, pleased to have renewed acquaintances with old friends in the orchestra and to have had a part in Janet’s jubilee concert.