The Farnborough Symphony Orchestra was formed in 1922 as the Orchestral Society of the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE).
The Society flourished before the war, attracting well-known soloists such as Beatrice Harrison who was famous for having made the first complete recording of the Elgar cello concerto. The outbreak of war brought musical activities to a halt but the Orchestra reformed in 1944 with amateur pianist, David Kettle, as conductor.
In 1965 David Kettle resigned and John Cotterill, a local solicitor and amateur violinist, took over as Music Director. He spearheaded a drive to improve standards of performance and, in 1969, the Orchestra was retitled the RAE Symphony Orchestra. In 1981, John Cotterill, who was also conductor of the Farnham-based Waverley Singers, stepped down, recommending that, for his successor, the Orchestra should seek a professional conductor. Following that advice, the committee appointed John Forster, an accomplished conductor, pianist and violinist who had worked extensively with the Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra and who had strong associations with the Royal College of Music.