The National Festival Orchestra has a brilliant reputation as one of the country's leading theatre and concert orchestras. Based in the North of England, with members drawn from all over the UK, the musicians combine a breadth of professional experience that ranges from playing for top symphony, chamber and opera orchestras to West End and Broadway shows. Many of the players are solo performers in their own right and their great versatility is apparent in the orchestra's ability to play in many different styles - from Bach to Baccarach - from Strauss to Sondheim.

As the orchestra of the outstandingly successful 'Sing Live UK', the NFO regularly plays to sell-out audiences at leading UK concert venues, including the Bridgewater Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall and The Sage, Gateshead. Through BBC radio and television broadcasts and its critically acclaimed performances as resident orchestra for the International Gilbert and Sullivan Festival in Buxton, the orchestra has established an outstanding national – and even international - reputation. In addition the orchestra covers a busy round of concerts, shows, and choral performances with some of the country’s finest choral societies. Highlights have included appearances at the London Palladium, The Royal Albert Hall, and also at huge festival events with stars such as soprano Lesley Garrett.
Buxton International
Gilbert & Sullivan Festival

The International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival at Buxton began in 1994 and has gone from strength to strength. One of the world’s leading light opera festivals, it welcomes professional and non-professional performers from across the UK and around the world, with companies travelling from as far afield as USA, South Africa, Canada, Australia and Japan.

The home of the Festival is the lovingly restored Buxton Opera House, an exquisitely beautiful Edwardian theatre and one of the finest examples of the work of the great theatre architect, Frank Matcham. The National Festival Orchestra has been resident at the Festival from the outset and for three weeks each year provides impeccable support for performances by visiting companies – both professional and non-professional, as well as for the Festival’s own Gilbert and Sullivan Opera Company, an acclaimed ensemble that brings together the finest professional artists working in the Savoy Opera repertoire.
A performance at the first Edward German Music Festivals in Shropshire in 2006 led to an invitation to return for the second festival in 2009 and also an engagement to record German’s light opera ‘Tom Jones’ for Naxos. Released in August 2009 to considerable critical enthusiasm, the recording reached No. 3 in the ‘Gramophone’ classical chart in its first week on sale.

News and Events

Our next performance:

Buxton International
Gilbert & Sullivan Festival


The International G&S festival at Buxton Opera House.
The festival runs from the 31st July to the 21st August.


Sally Robinson



As well as leading the National Festival Orchestra and the Yorkshire Chamber Ensemble Sally enjoys regular invitations to ‘guest’ lead orchestras in Aberystwyth, East Lancs and Sheffield.
She also directs the Lydian String Quartet, founded in 1987.



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