The Real String Orchestra play Alveston this Saturday

Tori Rushton, left, with The Real String Orchestra in rehearsals at Stratford High School. Photo: Mark Williamson R114/11/18/8568

Stratford’s The Real String Orchestra, who formed in January, bring their third concert of the year to St James’ Church, Alveston on Saturday (17th November).

It promises a delightfully mixed bag from the orchestra’s growing repertoire, including Kosma’s Autumn Leaves, Telemann’s Viola Concerta, Lunn’s The Suite – familiar to Downton Abbey fans – Greig’s Holberg Suite and Jenkins’ Palladio.

When Herald arts popped along to the orchestra’s rehearsal on a suitably chilly autumn evening on Tuesday evening at Stratford High School, the air was filled with the delightful sound of violins, cellos, violas and basses warming up. In all the orchestra has 22 regular musicians.

Orchestra leader and conductor Tori Rushton tells us that there isn’t another string ensemble like it, which is why she started it up. “We are a bunch of keen musicians, many of whom are teachers who don’t get the chance to just play. You don’t want to play dull stuff, so we give ourselves a challenge.”

Tori says they want to create a happy atmosphere when they play, and so she talks to the audience between music during performances. “With a lot of classical music concerts, the conductor comes in, bows and starts waving their arms; we’re not like that. I want to inspire people to come and feel welcome.”

Everyone has a smile on their face during rehearsals, and Herald arts chats to a number of players who are clearly enthused by the new ensemble.

Ray Coyte, on bass, says he normally plays flute but The Real String Orchestra gives him a chance to get his bass out. “I like this orchestra because we don’t take it too seriously but we play serious music in a good way, and we have a lot of fun. Normally during rehearsals, at half time, we have cake which one of us has baked. This is our first year and they are such a lovely bunch of people – a good mix of professional teachers and people like me who are amateurs.”

Becky Darnton, who is an occupation therapist in Kenilworth by day, says playing her violin with the orchestra gives her a break. She explains: “It’s a chance to concentrate on something that’s not work, it’s two hours of escape. Everyone is really lovely, and it’s a joy playing together.”

WHERE AND WHEN: The Real String Orchestra play St James’ Church, Alveston on 17th November. Tickets are £12 (concessions available) and can be bought from