The Countess of Wessex’s String Orchestra (CWSO) was created on 1 April 2014 as part of recent changes within the Corps of Army Music. There has been a long tradition of string playing in the British Army, particularly associated with the orchestra of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, in existence for over 250 years, and proud to have been the first professional orchestra in Britain. The CWSO can however trace its heritage back to ‘The King’s Musick’ of strings from the time of the Restoration in England which was eventually to form the basis of Queen Victoria’s private band in the nineteenth century.
The CWSO performs a variety of music, ranging from classical to pop, in various settings both in the United Kingdom and abroad. Engagements are varied, including investitures, ceremonies at royal households, state banquets and dinners, support to army regiments and corps, defence engagement activity, and international short-term training teams. The CWSO also provides the principal players for tri-service orchestral events, such as at Her Majesty the Queen’s 90th Birthday celebrations, the Passchendaele centenary at Ypres, the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, and the annual Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.
The CWSO is based at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich and is proud to be named after the Corps of Army Music’s Colonel-in-Chief.
The Countess of Wessex’s String Orchestra appears by kind permission of Major General B J Bathurst CBE, Major-General Commanding the Household Division.