The Watford Philharmonic Society was founded in 1935 in association with Sir Henry Wood, of BBC Proms fame.

With over 170 members in our choir & orchestra, we are now one of the largest amateur choral societies in the country. We perform 4 or 5 full-scale concerts each year, mainly at the Watford Colosseum. We also participate in a number of local events, often raising money for charities. Our members sometimes perform at Weddings and other private events too.

Our repertoire encompasses major choral and orchestral works both classical and modern. We also organise several social gatherings and provide opportunities for our members to join in musical events in the area.

The History of Watford Philharmonic Society

There has been a choral society in Watford for well over a hundred years, known first as the Oratorio Society, and subsequently as the Choral Union. The Choral Union was joined by several other local choirs to form The Watford Jubilee Choir, with a combined force of around 200 voices and a largely amateur orchestra accompanying them.

A Caricature of Sir Henry Joseph Wood, founding President of the Watford Philharmonic Society, Vanity Fair 17 April 1907
A Caricature of Sir Henry Joseph Wood, founding President of the Watford Philharmonic Society, Vanity Fair 17 April 1907
Leslie Regan - Conductor and founding member of the Watford Philharmonic Society
Leslie Regan – Conductor and founding member of the Watford Philharmonic Society

Together they presented a concert in the Plaza Cinema on May 12th 1935 conducted by the great Sir Henry Wood, whose services had been enlisted by his friend Leslie Regan. The programme consisted of works by three of the finest 20thCentury English composers – Elgar, Holst and Delius – all of whom had died during the previous year.

Sir Henry’s association with the event guaranteed its success, and so inspired the participants that they decided to create a new and permanent society of singers and instrumentalists, with Sir Henry as its first President. In 1940, performing as the Watford & District Philharmonic Society, they topped the bill in the inaugural concert of the new and acoustically-acclaimed Watford Town Hall – more familiar to us now as The Colosseum. In 1943, the Society sponsored the first Watford Music Festival to which Sir Henry Wood was once again invited as conductor.

Eventually the name was abbreviated to Watford Philharmonic Society, with Leslie Regan continuing as conductor until 1967. Read more.