Originally founded in 1985 as the Orchestra of St James, the London Pro Arte Orchestra (= LPAO) is now in its 16th Season. Murray Stewart became Artistic Director and Principal Conductor in 1985, and since that time the LPAO has given well over 100 concerts both at home and abroad. The LPAO made its South Bank debut in 1986, appearing at St John's, Smith Square the following year. It appears regularly in all of London's major Concert Halls, making its Barbican debut in 1995, as well as the Fairfield Hall in Croydon. The LPAO has regularly appeared at the Colston Hall in Bristol.
The LPOA has toured abroad in France and Denmark, being invited to give the opening concert at the Vendsyssel Festival, when it broadcast on Danish Radio. The London Pro Arte Brass Ensemble (one of three associated Ensembles of the Orchestra) has since returned to Denmark, recording once again for Danish Radio.
A number of distinguished soloists have appeared with the LPAO, including the late Manoug Parikian, Erich Gruenberg, Peter Katin, Marie-Louise Langlais, and Tim Hugh. The LPAO has appeared in three South Bank Festivals, Beethoven Plus, the French Bicentenary Festival, and the Szymanowski Festival. It also gave the UK Premiere of Aulis Sallinen's Iron Age Suite in the presence of the composer.
Having made its Royal Festival Hall debut in 1991, the LPAO took part in the Herbert Howells Centenary Concert the following year, when it gave the London Premiere of Howell's Sine Nomine. The LPAO has since returned to the Festival Hall to give a performance of Britten's Noye's Fludde with Finchley Children's Music Group.
The LPAO has a commitment to premiering contemporary works. It has given London Premieres of works by Paul Patterson and Piers Hellawell, as well as premiering several works by Jean Langlais at the South Bank. The LPAO gave the UK Premiere of Naji Hakim's Organ Concerto, and the World Premiere of Robert Walker's Mele Livida. Recent Premieres include the Oboe Concerto by Kenneth Leighton, and Naji Hakim's Violin Concerto. The LPAO's first CD, of works by Jean Langlais, was released in 1998 by Koch International. The LPAO also made the premiere recording of Richard Maunder's edition of the Mozart Requiem, in its entirety, and on modern instruments.
In 1997 the LPAO was resident at the People's Palace Concert, Queen Mary and Westfield College, London. The LPAO has also appeared as part of the International Orchestral Concert Series at the Fairfield Hall, Croydon. In recent Seasons, the LPAO has given concerts at the Henley Festival, Portchester Castle and Tredegar House, as well as taking part in the 650th Anniversary celebrations at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. The LPAO has played on four occasions at the Army Air Corps's annual 'Music in the Air' in Hampshire, playing before its largest audience ever of ten thousand people on each occasion. Plans for the forthcoming Season include concerts at St John's, Smith Square, St Martin-in-the-Fields and St James's, Piccadilly in London, the Stables, Wavendon, as well as beginning a residency at Trinity School, Croydon.