The Academy of St Thomas was founded by the late Ivan Cane, cellist and former Head of the Instrumental Service for Norfolk in 1973
Initially a string orchestra, the Academy grew to encompass wind and brass, increasing the range and style of repertoire it performed. This metamorphosis has led to an ensemble regarded as one of the country’s leading groups of its kind.
In 1984 the orchestra appointed a principal guest conductor – the internationally-respected Christopher Adey. Under his direction, the orchestra has been joined by many outstanding soloists, including Emma Johnson, Alexander Baillie, John Lill, John Anderson, Piers Lane, Michael Collins, Lorraine McAslan and Amaury Coeytaux.
Memorable concerts have featured such rarities as the Petite Symphonie Concertante by Frank Martin, the Concerto for Double String Orchestra by Martinu, Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony No 2, Moeran’s Sinfonietta and Schumann’s seldom performed Konzertstück for Four Horns.
Over the years the orchestra has also accompanied many of the local choral societies: Keswick Hall Choir, UEA Choir and Norwich Cathedral Consort.
The orchestra with guest conductor Matthew Andrews has provided the opportunity for emerging young soloists from Norfolk in support of the Michael Badminton Young Musicians Trust.
The Academy has recorded two CDs – one in 2000 of works by Poulenc, Tchaikovsky and Puccini; the other in 2006, featuring Saint-Saens Variations on a Theme of Beethoven arranged by Christopher Adey, Gliere’s Concerto for Coloratura Soprano with Catherine May and Vaughan William’s The Lark Ascending with Hannah Perowne as soloist.