St Albans Symphony Orchestra

Appointment as Artistic Director, following Tom Hammond

I’m honoured to have been appointed Artistic Director of St Alban’s Symphony Orchestra (SASO). SASO is a wonderfully warm community orchestra that performs to a high level. We collaborate with established soloists, and our leader is the superb Charlotte Fairbairn.

Sadly, SASO lost its much-loved Principal Conductor, Tom Hammond. Tom was appointed in 2016 but passed away suddenly in December 2021. We will never forget him. His dedication to music and to his colleagues and friends was extraordinary.

When the SASO committee asked me to take on the next three concerts before opening the process of finding a new conductor, I inherited Tom’s rehearsal schedule. This schedule had detailed timings for every piece, for the rest of the season. I followed it to the letter and it worked a dream. It was a testament to the incredible amount of care with which he approached his career and colleagues.

Tom was founder and Co-Artistic Director of Hertfordshire Festival of Music which launched in 2016 and has quickly become one of the main classical music festivals in the UK. He was Music Director of Hertford Symphony Orchestra and Finchley Symphony Orchestra, and was very busy in the UK and abroad. This was recognised when he was appointed an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 2010, and later when London’s Sinfonia Tamesa appointed him Conductor Emeritus in 2019.

Tom also worked in the Middle East, conducting ensembles at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Palestine – including the Palestine Youth Orchestra – and adjudicating for the Palestine National Music Competition. In the UK he adjudicated for the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, Oxford University, Trinity Laban Conservatoire and the Croydon Performing Arts Festival.

Alongside his practical music-making, Tom was a much-respected producer with Chiaro Audio. His work there was released on Resonus Classics, First Hand Records and the Edition Peters label.

As it happens, Tom and I shared a love of ancient walking routes in the UK and Europe, and he introduced me to the Harrow Way (or Harroway), the Stone-Age route that stretches from Devon to Dover.

Here’s to you, Tom.