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Au revoir to Bob and Elaine

After 53 and 45 years with the orchestra respectively, we are saying au revoir to two stalwart members, Bob Perry and Elaine Herbert. We are immensely grateful for their playing, musical leadership, and friendship – they really are part of the fabric of the FSO and personify what a local amateur orchestra is all about. Bob’s wife, Wendy, also deserves a mention, for hosting many of our guests over the seasons, managing Front of House, and most recently accompanying the Mayor of Aldershot on our behalf at our centenary celebrations.

In recognition of their long service, and as we look forward to seeing them in the audience for many years to come, the FSO is delighted to offer Bob, Wendy and Elaine Honorary Friendship of the FSO.

Robert Perry (Leader, violinist & violist, 1969 – 2023)

I joined the ranks of FSO violins (then the Royal Aircraft Establishment Symphony Orchestra, RAESO) in 1969 then under John Cotterill, and was delighted to be asked to lead in 1980 just before John Forster arrived in 1981. I think this promotion came after I had played the Saint-Saëns Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso in a previous rehearsal – my time at Kneller Hall and The Guildhall had apparently not been wasted! On concert days the soloist or extra players often came to tea, telling us tales from the professional music world. Stand out concerts have to include accompanying silent movies, particularly The General with Buster Keaton, then the fun involved finding and testing (tuning?) two Hoovers and a floor polisher for Malcolm Arnold’s Grand Grand Overture which was written for that amazing series of Gerard Hoffnung concerts at the RFH. I am indebted to all conductors and orchestra members for their great friendship and support and can by no means forget the constant support and enthusiasm of my wife Wendy.

Elaine Herbert (Principal and second flute, 1978 – 2023)

The FSO was still the RAE when I joined in 1978, having deputised at the last minute for a concert in the Redgrave Theatre in Farnham. I was introduced by Liz Preece (cello) from a babysitting group and she gave me lifts to rehearsals. The orchestra in those days rehearsed in the RAE canteen and gave concerts in the hall.

I discovered a myriad of musical connections from when I grew up in North London: a viola player’s daughter played flute in the Orchestra. One of their relations taught my sister the violin. I joined the Family Junior Orchestra when I was 13 and played in my first concert conducted by the violin teacher!  I also found out that I had played with Bob in Middlesex Youth Orchestra in the late 1950’s.

When Mark Fitzgerald became conductor, we remembered he had played the bassoon in a concert in Southgate with me in 1976!

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