Leslie Olive, Founding Conductor

Suffolk Philharmonic Orchestra is a charitable trust, registered with the Charity Comission.

The Trustees are
Michael Dawe, Chair

Leslie Olive, Artistic Director

Michael Wilde, Finance Director

Jane Dalgliesh

Gordon Puckey

Andrew Speed

About us


Founded by conductor Leslie Olive in 2012, Suffolk Philharmonic is a professional orchestra.



Our players are people who earn their living by playing their instrument. They are used to performing in famous venues all over the world with celebrated conductors and distinguished soloists. In some cases, like many players at the very top of the profession, they are professors at the UK’s globally respected music conservatoires, taking the opportunity to share their skills with the most promising and talented young musicians of the next generation. 

Suffolk links

A nucleus of our players live in Suffolk and take delight in sharing their gifts on their home turf. Others are individually selected to join them, creating a professional orchestra for Suffolk which can equal the playing calibre you would otherwise expect to hear only in major metropolitan centres like London.

About six times a year, this extraordinarily gifted team assembles to give regular full-scale programmes of symphony concerts at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds and other major venues.  

London calibre in Suffolk villages

As well as providing “London-calibre” orchestral concerts within easy reach of many Suffolk residents, smaller ensembles, from the chamber orchestra right down to trios and quartets, take top quality live performance into many other venues, large and small, around the County of Suffolk. With local people, they share their skills, their excitement, and their sheer joy in wonderful music, playing in Suffolk communities right down to small villages. Lunchtime Community Concerts in village halls on weekdays, often given hand in hand with the Suffolk Rural Coffee Caravan, provide a delightful meeting point for local people, many of whom tell us that these free events have touched their lives.

Work with children

Children in schools and young people in Suffolk’s colleges meet some of the players who recorded the film scores of their favourite films. Older youngsters with serious musical aspirations find themselves sitting shoulder to shoulder with members of London’s most famous orchestras in our “side-by-side” rehearsals sessions, learning how a particular interpretation of the most celebrated repertoire is put together in the leanest of rehearsals, and, working with West Suffolk College, a young composer can hear their creation performed before a large audience by a superbly professional orchestra.

Leslie Olive, founding conductor

The Suffolk Philharmonic vision is the brainchild of conductor Leslie Olive, who founded the Orchestra in 2011 and conducted its launch concert in St Edmundsbury Cathedral at the Bury Festival in May 2012.


Leslie Olive is a conductor, composer, choir trainer, a writer on music and above all a visionary for initiatives which put the power of music in the way of more and more people.


Leslie Olive’s previous creations in the community include the ambitious leisure-time choir The English Arts Chorale and the immense Reigate Summer Music Festival, and in the world of education, the spectacular Boys Choir of Colchester Royal Grammar School. He is the composer of the huge educational opera The Master of Ashmore, written for Kent teenagers to sing as long ago as 1978 and due for a concert-performance revival - probably in Suffolk - in 2023.


A Registered Charity

Suffolk Philharmonic Orchestra is a registered charity with six trustees.