Essex Symphony Orchestra Reg. Charity No. 1000732

Site last updated on 15 May 2020

Spotlight on …

Penny Milsom - Principal Cello

I count myself very fortunate to be someone whose teachers, schools and family gave me opportunities aplenty to forge a lifelong love of music. I was encouraged to practise, perform and play with others. I was thrown into situations that stretched and excited me, whether in the pit at school shows, on tour with the county youth orchestra, or hauled in for chamber music sessions that introduced me to a vast array of repertoire – and helped me develop sight-reading skills that are very useful in a symphony orchestra!

I started off playing the piano and the violin and came to the cello when I was eleven, moving happily to an instrument that I already loved for its haunting and expressive sound, heard many times in Paul Tortelier’s recording of Elgar’s Cello Concerto. Belonging to an orchestra and playing chamber music have been the backcloth to everything else I have done since.

I joined Essex Symphony Orchestra in 1989, shortly after I moved to Chelmsford to begin work in London. I immediately found a cello section with a strong team spirit, something we top up today with a tradition of occasional meals out in the interests of good ensemble (we take to heart the wise counsel of our conductor, Tom, who once told us that “The section that eats pizza together plays together!”)

My taste in music is eclectic and it is almost impossible to name a favourite composer or work. Music, of many different kinds, just makes me feel good. But up there at the top end of my list must be the pleasure of playing Haydn’s string quartets with the friends I have made through the ESO.