Haslemere Musical Society

The Haslemere Musical Society was founded in 1923 and gave annual concerts up until 1939. Since 1945 it has performed up to four concerts a year of classical works and now it has a considerable following. HMS is one of the few amateur societies to have both a symphony orchestra and chorus.

The society, whose membership is wholly amateur, has players and singers from Haslemere and beyond. It is represented by a wide range of professions and retirees, and ages range from the mid-20s to the mid-80s. HMS maintains its high standards by having four permanent professionals. Longest serving is Dr James Ross who, in addition to his work with HMS, directs other musical societies in the London area. He has developed a very large repertoire over 20 years, and is in high demand internationally for his work, notably for charity where he has raised over £1 million in the last 3 years. James Ross has worked with HMS for 10 years now and has developed the performance skills of both the choir and the orchestra to a point now where they are confident of playing a wide range of the classical repertoire.

The society’s other professionals, who ensure that high standards are maintained, are Tom Horn, a gifted violinist who leads the orchestra, and Clive Osgood, the well-known Haslemere organist and composer, who works as the accompanist to the choir in their weekly rehearsals and is currently acting chorus master.


Members are amateur players and singers, while the Director of Music, Leader of the Orchestra, Chorus Master and Soloists are professional appointments. Singers and instrumentalists interested in joining the society are very welcome to attend a rehearsal. Auditions are required for wind and brass vacancies. Both choir and orchestra rehearse at 7.30 pm on Monday evenings in the Haslemere Hall from September until May with open sessions in June.

Our Professionals

Musical leadership and support is provided by a number of professionals:

Music Director: James Ross

James Ross studied at Harrow School, London, and Christ Church, Oxford University, reading Modern History, then took a master’s degree in music and a doctorate on French opera, winning the Sir Donald Tovey Prize. Training first as a violinist, he was a finalist in the 1998 BBC Philharmonic Conducting Competition; since then he has conducted over 850 works in fifteen countries throughout Asia, Europe and North America. In addition to HMS, other UK music director positions include Oxford Opera Company, Sidcup Symphony Orchestra, Welwyn Garden City Orchestra and Chorus, Bridgnorth Sinfonia and previously, Oxford University Sinfonietta and St Albans Symphony Orchestra, of which he is Vice President. He has performed in leading UK concert halls including Symphony Hall Birmingham, St. John’s Smith Square and the Sheldonian Theatre. Symphonic repertoire includes all of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, Brahms and Tchaikovsky, most of Schubert, Schumann, Dvořák, Bruckner, Shostakovich, and Suk’s Asrael; numerous oratorios, e.g. Elgar, The Dream of Gerontius, and major 20th-Century works including Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring, Bartòk, Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta, and Schoenberg, Pierrot Lunaire. Soloists accompanied range from Sir Thomas Allen to BBC Young Musician of the Year Guy Johnston; operas include by Bizet, Tchaikovsky, Britten, Mozart, Verdi, Puccini, Wagner and Janǎcèk. He has also conducted much French repertoire and has a strong interest in contemporary music. He has conducted numerous first performances including leading New Music Days in collaboration with the City of London Sinfonia, the Saatchi Gallery and the Arts Council of England. James Ross is also a frequent speaker on music, including at the Bibliothéque Nationale de France and the Purcell School of Music; he has taught at Oxford University and contributed to several music journals and books, including Vincent d’Indy et son temps and French Music Since Berlioz (2006) and French Music, Nationalism and Culture (2008). He has also helped raise over £150,000 through concert-giving for charities including Whizz-Kidz, Addaction, Rethink, The Fund for Epilepsy, NSPCC, Oxfam, Response International, UNICEF and in May 2012 presented a concert at St John’s Smith Square with soprano Danielle de Niese in aid of the UK-Sri Lanka Trauma Group and Sunera Foundation for Disabled People. Complete repertoire, details of concerts, publications and a large selection of press reviews are available at www.james-ross.com and www.facebook.com/James.Ross.conductor.

Chorus Master: Cole Bendall

Educated in Scotland, Cole’s growing reputation as a strong practitioner in choral music has seen him work in the United Kingdom and overseas. Recent and upcoming highlights include work with the British Sinfonietta, Byre Opera and leading choral societies in central Scotland, as well as masterclasses with Neil Ferris and Sonoro, and Gijs Leenaars and the Rundfunkchor Berlin, which he has also conducted in concert.

His pre-professional chamber choir, the Reid Consort, is critically acclaimed for performances of contemporary choral music by Joanna Gill, Thomas LaVoy, Kerry Andrew and Veljo Tormis.

Alongside his Artistic Director position with the Reid Consort and freelance work as a tenor singer, Cole is Musical Director of the Athenaeum Singers of Warminster; Director of Music at St John the Evangelist, Horsham. He is also a Visiting Teaching Fellow at the University of Edinburgh where he has been undertaking doctoral studies researching Estonian choral music.

Cole is the newly appointed Chorus Master to the Haslemere Musical Society.

His first work with HMS will be Haydn’s The Creation to be performed at Haslemere Hall on 2 March 2019.

We are very much looking forward to working with Cole.

Orchestra Leader: Tom Horn

Tom began learning the violin from a very early age and has played with various youth orchestras in Kent, the Channel Islands and London. Most notably Tom was leader of the London Schools Symphony Orchestra, which enabled him to work with world-renowned artists such as Thomas Sanderling, Alexandre Markov and Robbie Coltrane. Whilst studying Music and Acoustics at Southampton University he became heavily involved in the music scene around the city. He played with every orchestra in Southampton and led and conducted both of the university orchestras, as well as setting up and directing the Concerto Ensemble. As a soloist Tom performed a number of works with various orchestras including all the Vivaldi Seasons, The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams, Shindler’s List by John Williams, Tzigane by Ravel and both the Mendelssohn and Bruch violin concerti. Tom is looking forward to performing Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy with the Haslemere Orchestra next year. Tom now has a career as a violin teacher and freelance, playing in and around London. He teaches for the Buckinghamshire music service and conducts the Aylesbury Youth Orchestra, with whom he has been invited to play at the Music for Youth festival in Birmingham two years running. After the success of the Haydnathon last year where Tom performed all 104 symphonies, he is in the planning stages of a similar challenge with the Mozart Symphonies next year. He continues playing and conducting with various orchestras and ensembles across the South East and is now enjoying experimenting as a jazz violinist.

Rehearsal Pianist: Clive Osgood

After completing his undergraduate studies at Bangor University, Clive Osgood undertook an MA in Musicology at the University of Cardiff. He was then awarded an organ scholarship at Salisbury Cathedral before training to be a teacher in London. He is currently completing a doctorate in composition at the University of Surrey. He is the Director of Music at St Bartholomew’s Church, Haslemere. His compositions include instrumental, chamber and choral music as well as musicals. In 2006 his anthem Do not Fear was performed on the Sunday Worship programme on Radio 4. His other recent compositions include a setting of the Stabat Mater and a piano quintet. He has had music performed in several Cathedrals including St Paul’s and Westminster Abbey and is currently working on a string quartet.  Clive is currently working on a commission for HMS.