Abingdon Community Orchestra is for musicians of all standards.

Abingdon Community Orchestra was established in September 2011 to provide a playing opportunity for players of any orchestral instrument at any standard.

  • If you are interested in joining the orchestra, we meet on Wednesday evenings, 7.15-8.45 at Larkmead School.
  • There are no auditions (you are very welcome, however rusty!) and we will take any instrument as long as it does not need to be powered or amplified electrically.
  • Students of Larkmead School or secondary-school aged children of ACO members are very welcome to join the orchestra for free (please note: we do ask for a £3 admin fee per term)


We have a fairly even balance of strings and wind (woodwind and brass) across a good range of instruments and about 35 players (at the time of writing). Our current line-up includes: flute, oboe, clarinet, cor anglais, saxophone, trumpet, trombone, tuba, violin, viola, cello harp, percussion. New players are always welcome. Please contact the Abingdon Music Centre office so that we can ensure that we have parts ready for you.

Our performances this year include:

Fun in the Park
John Mason Community Concert
AMC Summer Concert
Abingdon Christmas Extravaganza
AMC Christmas Concert

Recent repertoire includes:

  • Night on a Bare Mountain
  • Por una cabeza (tango)
  • Various from The Nutcracker (Tchaikovsky)
  • John Williams: Star Wars, ET, Jurassic Park main themes
  • Variations on a theme by Prokofiev                          
  • An American in Paris                                               
  • Theme from Pirates of the Caribbean                        
  • Habanera, Intermezzo, Finale from Carmen               
  • James Bond Theme                                       
  • Radetsky March                         
  • Movements from Pictures at an Exhibition                 
  • Peer Gynt (Grieg)
  • Les Miserables Medley
  • Bruch Violin Concerto, 2nd mvt.
Ben Heaney is assistant MD of the orchestra



Ben Heaney , Musical Director of Abingdon Community Orchestra




I thoroughly enjoyed conducting Abingdon Community Orchestra. They are a great bunch of people:  really friendly and approach our rehearsals with good humour. Everyone is very supportive and encouraging of each other – some members have started learning as adults; others learnt whilst at school and are now pleased to rediscover their instrument. There is a good balance of instruments and the orchestra is making a great sound. Helen Eccleston, Director, Abingdon Music Centre

What orchestra members say...

Although I have only been playing the instrument for a relatively short time, the orchestra has given me a great opportunity to play music with others. I had not played in an orchestra before. Apart from making new friends, it has given me confidence and my sight reading has improved considerably. It is fun.  Apart from the ‘serious’ business of trying to make nice music we do laugh a lot!

(Alison, cello)

Fun, friendship, the chance to learn, the challenge (in my case at least!), Helen's endless patience..... all go to make for great rehearsal evenings 

(Jacky, trumpet)

I first started playing the flute when I progressed from treble recorder in secondary school. I have joined the orchestra to get forty years’ “rustiness” out of my fingers and lips!

(Norman, flute)

I joined the ACO at its inception after 20+ years of not playing in an orchestra, but skills learnt all those years ago soon came back. I really enjoy the friendly and relaxed atmosphere where it doesn't matter if you make a mistake. The first time we played in public was fairly scary, but audiences are always very appreciative and enthusiastic.  

(Alexandra, percussion)

Just to say how much I am enjoying playing in the Community Orchestra – even after a long day at work, somehow I am re-energised and think what a great way to end the day.  I may not be able to play very well, but each time I get a little better, and I am sure the whole experience is helping me to understand more and more about music and playing with other people.

(Sue, violin)

I hadn't touched my violin for twenty years when I joined ACO. I'm never going to be much good, but I really enjoy playing as part of the group and I learn from those who are better than me. 

(Helen, violin)

I started to play the violin again when I reached the age of 60, having learned as a child and with a gap of about 45 years! One reason for starting again was to be able to play with others once I had retired and had the time to do so and enjoy it. I joined the Saturday Strings session in January 2012 and in September Elizabeth suggested I come along to the orchestra. I was initially reluctant to do so as I thought I wouldn't be able to cope. But I did join and I really enjoy it. The music is varied and challenging and the atmosphere is great. Helen's direction is enthusiastic and encouraging. I am happy to keep a low profile and hide behind the 1st violins for the next however many years!

(Miranda, violin)