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About Us

A humble beginning in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, in 1904


The orchestra was formed in 1904 by the local young, talented musician, John Cope who had recently returned to the Potteries from Munich where he had been studying the organ with Josef Rheinberger. He was encouraged to establish the orchestra by his former teacher and mentor, Madame Marie Reymond.

Legend has it that the orchestra started rehearsing in a 'draughty timber merchant's shed' in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent. Until 2023, nobody knew the exact location of the wood shed, if it existed at all. But, by chance in October 2023, a map of Burslem, dated 1879, was found online. And after a quick search - there it is - the timber merchant! The map quite clearly shows a 'Timber Yard' in Moorland Road, Burslem, close to Beethoven House, (now No.76, just up the road) the home of Madame Marie Reymond. The timber yard appears to be just where the Queen's Theatre (originally the New Town Hall) now stands.

The orchestra  was given the name of The Potteries Orchestral Society and drew amateur musicians from miles around the district. Cope was a task master and instilled on the members of the orchestra the disciplines so necessary for the enterprise. Players were worked hard but they began to love what Cope was beginning to achieve.


The orchestra's first concert was held in the Old Town Hall in Burslem, but the audience was very small. Choral singing at the time was a very strong tradition in The Potteries and the launch of a new purely orchestral music society was thought of as something superfluous. In fact many local choirs shunned the orchestra and Cope was often ridiculed by fellow choir masters. Cope and his orchestra carried on.


In 1906 the orchestra changed its name to The North Staffordshire Orchestral Society and its first concert given in Hanley was in the Victoria Hall on November 1st. Although local interest was again poor, support did come from further afield and Sir Granville Bantock and Ernest Newman of Birmingham were very keen to see the orchestra succeed. Newman attended the concert and was delighted with the performance of the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with Lady Halle as soloist. The concert also included Sibelius's newly composed Finlandia.


In 1907 the name was changed again, this time to The North Staffordshire Orchestra and yet again in 1909 to The North Staffordshire Symphony Orchestra.


During those early years Madame Reymond was a major patron and supporter of the orchestra. She was successful in persuading none other than Sibelius to become a fellow Patron. She had come to North Staffordshire from Denmark in 1887 and set up a private music school at Beethoven House in Moorland Road, Burslem. It was here that she first spotted Cope and encouraged his musical talent. She helped to manage the orchestra and indeed funded it by carrying much of its costs. There is no doubt that we owe a debt of gratitude to the lady who helped the birth of the NSSO. She died in 1926.


The orchestra continued to grow in stature under Cope's direction until in 1954 at its Jubilee concert he decided to retire. He died at his home in Charles Street, Hanley in April 1962 and was buried in the same grave as Marie Reymond in Hanley cemetery.


Today, the orchestra plays four major symphony concerts each year, performing in venues in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme.  The orchestra is very grateful for the support from its sponsors.

Celebrating our 120th Anniversary in 2024 



More about the heritage of the orchestra here>

Our NSSO, North Staffs Symphony Orchestra, should not be confused with -


National Steel Symphony Orchestra of Trinidad and Tobago

National Schools Symphony Orchestra in the UK 

North Shore Symphony Orchestra of Greenvale, New York

North Sydney Symphony Orchestra of Sydney, Australia

North Sea Symphony Orchestra of Hague

National Suzuki String Orchestra of London 

New Symphonic Sound Orchestra of Japan


National Sample Survey Organization

Network Storage Solutions Organization

National Security Space Organization

National Silkworm Seed Organisation

National Services Support Organization

National Small Savings Organisation

New System Security Officer

Network and Support Services Operation


Listed on UK Amateur Orchestras website here>

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