The Tallis Chamber Orchestra was formed in 1974 and gave its first concert in Blythburgh, Suffolk. It has subsequently performed several concerts a year in Suffolk, mainly in Westleton, and also elsewhere in the South of England. Recent concerts have included visits to Aldeburgh and Keele University. For a number of years after its foundation the orchestra also gave concerts in London, but these were later discontinued.
The orchestra takes its name from the English composer Thomas Tallis, who was at one time organist at St. Alfege's Church in Greenwich. The present-day church contains the manuals (keyboards) of Tallis's organ in a display case. Philip Simms, a bass player in the English Chamber Orchestra and conductor who was also organist and choirmaster at St. Alfege's, founded the Thomas Tallis Society choir, and the Tallis Chamber Orchestra grew out of the 'scratch' orchestra gathered to accompany the choir for concerts in Greenwich. A weekend rehearsal and concert was arranged, directed by Philip Simms from the harpsichord and based on Westleton where Philip owned a cottage. This proved so popular to both players and audience that the TCO was formally established, and has successfully repeated this format many times.
Distinguished musicians who have appeared with the TCO include Emanuel Hurwitz, Felicity Palmer, Rodney Slatford, Janet Craxton, John Eliot Gardner, Jill Gomez and Tim Hugh.
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