About Us

Docklands Sinfonia has become a major cultural force in the Docklands - bringing high quality music to the area, staging ground-breaking concerts and creating a lasting legacy by inspiring generations of young people.

Firmly grounded in our community, the orchestra was founded by conductor Spencer Down, whose grandfather worked in the docks. His  love of music was born listening to his grandfather play trumpet in working men’s clubs in the East End. 

Since its formation in 2009, Docklands Sinfonia has enjoyed incredible success with performances for the Queen at Buckingham Palace and with Grammy-award winner Imogen Heap at the Royal Albert Hall. It has appeared on BBC Radio 3 and BBC1. Recently the orchestra received standing ovations for its performances at the Barbican and London Coliseum.

The orchestra has recorded albums for leading artists such as Katie Melua and Suzi Quatro. It has performed with world-renowned classical artists such as Alison Balsom, Jennifer Pike, Leonard Elschenbroich and Elin Manahan-Thomas as well as the English National Ballet, Royal Opera House.

Docklands Sinfonia aims to promote young musicians through commissioning new works and is committed to inspiring future generations of young people by introducing them to the joy of live orchestral music. Our repertoire celebrates multi cultural London by seeking out innovative collaborations to reach new audiences. Our home is the stunning Hawksmoor-designed St Anne's, Limehouse.

Full biography

Conductor- Spencer Down

Spencer DownSpencer Down is the driving force behind Docklands Sinfonia. He was inspired to set up a symphony orchestra in the Docklands by his grandfather – who worked as a shipwright in the docks and introduced him to classical music.

Recently Spencer was honoured to be entrusted with Roy Budd's score to the 1925 classic silent film Phantom of the Opera, conducting the premiere at London's Coliseum. Spencer has been orchestral director for high profile events including concerts for the Queen in the ballroom at Buckingham Palace and the world premiere of Grammy award-winning singer Imogen Heap’s ‘Love the Earth’ at the Royal Albert Hall.

Spencer was honoured to conduct the Mayor's Jubilee Band - made up of young musicians from London's top four music colleges - on one of the music barges taking part in the spectacular Queen's Jubilee Pageant on the river Thames.

He has built up an impressive portfolio of working with artists from leading organisations including the English National Ballet, Royal Opera House, London Symphony Orchestra and Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Spencer is professor of euphonium and tuba at the Royal Military School of Music and conductor, brass co-ordinator and professor at Junior Guildhall.

Full biography

Leader - Emma Blanco

Emma BlancoEmma Blanco studied under Yossi Zivoni at the Royal College of Music. She has attended masterclasses with Igor Oistrakh and Yossi Zivoni in Belgium and with Victor Liva, Sophie Till and Ming Yang in the United States. After graduating from the RCM in 2003 she continued her studies privately with Rodney Friend. In 2003, Emma was appointed leader of the National Musicians’ Symphony Orchestra and has also led the London Soloists’ Chamber Orchestra in concerts at the Purcell Room, St-Martins-in-the-Fields and St John’s, Smith Square.

Emma now has a busy freelance schedule, based in London. She plays regularly with many orchestras including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Concert Orchestra and the New London Soloists. Emma has recorded for artists including Olly Murs, Katie Melua, Will Young, McFly, Aled Jones, Duke Special and The Indelicates. She has also played on film and TV sessions with groups including Millennia Strings and the London Session Orchestra. Emma's TV appearances include The Brits 2014 and the Graham Norton Show. She has given live performances with international artists such as Imogen Heap & Peter Gabriel.

 Full biography




Admiral The Right Honourable Baron West of Spithead GCB DSC PC ADC DUniv

Mike Batt LVO


Kathryn Lewis (Chair)

Harold Sim (Treasurer)

Clare Walker

Kirsty Walker

Phil Sizer

Sebastian Fox

Gordon Warren