ELLSO (East London Late Starters Orchestra) is a registered charity, started in 1982 with a basic philosophy that music-making is within everyone's ability.
We are an East London based teaching string orchestra for adult late starters, regardless of age, background, experience or income and we want to encourage people to play music.
We provide a genuinely supportive and non-competitive environment and this is reflected in our methods and in the music we play. There are no auditions and from Day 1, even complete beginners will be able to join in orchestral playing.
Its founder members were inspired by a Tower Hamlets council initiative to encourage children to play stringed instruments.The council had set up a Saturday centre for the best and most motivated pupils and invited parents to drop in for a one-hour sample lesson.
"This was not with a view to getting something going among us adults," said one of the parents, "it was just to give us a better understanding of what the children were doing. But we went in there, and for me that was it. I had a preliminary lesson on the cello and I thought "This is amazing!" I could learn to play these instruments! It was just such an incredible moment"
A group of parents then went on to set up ELLSO and over 35 years later, hundreds of adults have felt the same thrill at handling these wonderful stringed instruments, many of them for the first time in their lives.
For most it comes as a revelation that they, too, can learn to play, that it's never too late and there is nothing, apart from their own inhibitions, to prevent them. ELLSO wants to break down barriers to music-making. Come and join us!
A short documentary film by Ed Houghton (2009) about what it's like to be a late starter at ELLSO.
Our innovative and successful model has served as the springboard for establishing other late starter string orchestras both here and abroad:
Yorkshire Late Starter Strings (YLSS)
New York Late-Starters String Orchestra (NYLSO)