Award-winning conductor retires after four decades

A conductor who has held the baton for the North London Symphony Orchestra (NLSO) for 40 years will retire with a final flourish at a Christmas gala.

David Lardi, 65, first started at the Crouch End and Hornsey orchestra when he was 24 – although he says that the orchestra was in a sorry state when he started.

“It was in a fairly bad way when I took it over,” he said.

“The orchestra had trouble getting through one whole piece all together.”

Now, Mr Lardi is confident that the orchestra, which once performed to a 1,000-strong audience at Hornsey Town Hall before it was closed as a music venue, has gone from strength to strength.

“They’re performing large scale repertoires that they couldn’t have dreamt of before,” he said.

Over the years, the amateur orchestra has attracted professional soloists who went on to become stars.

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Nigel Kennedy, one of the world’s leading violin virtuosos, started his career with the orchestra.

Internationally renowned violinists Tasmin Little and Valeriy Sokolov performed with the Crouch End group.

“I’ve always tried to advance the careers of young soloists,” Mr Lardi said.

“People come to us knowing that they’ll get a good concert and also that they might see one of the stars of the future.”

The award-winning conductor, who will continue to be musical director of the Finchley Chamber Choir and the Finchley Chamber Orchestra, believes that the NLSO is in the first class division for amateur orchestras.

“Community orchestras tend to work on different levels,” Mr Lardi said. “You tend to get some which are incredibly talented.

“On the other end, you get people who are very enthusiastic.

“I try to get the orchestra to the same level together; to the highest level, so that the most talented player will want to play in it,” he said.

For his final Christmas gala, Mr Lardi has chosen not to hire a professional soloist, so as to better showcase the work of the amateur orchestra.

They will be performing the Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet overture and Finale from Swan Lake, as well as Mussorgsky’s Night on a Bare Mountain, and Shostakovich’s Symphony no. five,

The North London Symphony Orchestra will be performing at the United Reformed Church in Palmers Green on Saturday at 7.45pm.