Karen Williams – Trustee

Karen and Graeme
Karen and Graeme

From the moment I walked through the door at the age of 19 into the HCO in the early 80’s I got the warmest welcome.  I had outgrown the Youth Orchestra and was looking for something more ‘grown up’ – well I found it!  About half the orchestra would dacamp down the pub after rehearsals and that was where much planning and of course socialising was done.  I started at the back of the 2nd violins, we always performed our concerts at the Queens Theatre, Hornchurch – a great sense of occasion to often see a capacity audience – particularly when we performed the big popular works like Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto.  Those were the days of Robert Ferguson – always humorous, a few infectious jokes but always a great musician.  It was during this time that I somehow walked into the role of Secretary – a post I held for about 30 years!  I loved doing it and felt that the HCO became my baby.  Concerts with the Youth Orchestra, some wonderful soloists, MPs, dignitaries attending our concerts,  a change of Conductor with our dear Mike Axtell (I would write a book on him!), the famous HCO BBQ’s.

Karen with the Quartet.

I was honoured to be invited to join Francis Hider’s regular string quartet – his library of chamber music was mind-blowing, all the sight reading improved my playing hugely and gave me the confidence to participate in chamber music courses and subsequently perform in quartets for special occasions, including several of my friends’ weddings.  I struck up lasting friendships which have lasted til this day, the annual New Year’s break gave us a chance to take our instruments and play together in between polishing off the wine.

In 2005 I moved away to Bushey, nr Watford and joined a local orchestra – but whilst it was the best amateur orchestra I have ever played in, it was NOT so friendly.  I hated it!  Guess what – I came back to Havering, and here I have stayed, not so frequently mind but I do a few rehearsals when I can and enjoy sitting in the back wings as a Trustee.  I am on my fourth conductor now.  The lovely Bill Brooks returns occasionally to play cello for us, replaced by the amazing Lawrence Tatnell shortly before the pandemic.  Lawrence is certainly a man for our era, I cannot thank him enough for keeping the heart and soul of the orchestra beating during Covid with our weekly zoom sessions and we emerged out of the other side intact.  He is bubbling with new musical ideas and never stops laughing!

When I’m not playing, I enjoy showing my dogs.  We have done rather well if I say so myself.

I said at the start of this bio about the warm welcome at the HCO.  I would like to think that the ethos remains to this day.  Long live the HCO!

Championship Dog Show in Wales






Last Updated: 23 June 2024.