BOLTON Symphony Orchestra has celebrated performing in front of its largest ever audience.

The orchestra celebrated its first concert of the year by playing to a packed out Victoria Hall on Saturday night.

A Films and Flags themed evening kicked off the 2016 season in blockbuster style with music by acclaimed film composer John Williams and iconic British and American anthems including Stars and Stripes and Pomp and Circumstance.

Conductor Chris Wormald celebrated his debut appearance as leader of the symphony orchestra.

A founder member of the orchestra and first principal horn, is best-known for his award-winning 26 years with Smithills School band and conducting orchestras, choirs, brass bands and wind bands all over the world.

He said: "On behalf of everyone involved in Saturday evening’s packed Bolton Symphony Orchestra concert at the Victoria Hall, may I please thank everyone at the Bolton News, the Mayor of Bolton Cllr Carole Swarbrick and the Bolton public for their incredible support of what was a truly special evening.

"I have been overwhelmed by messages of congratulation and I make particularly special mention of the outstanding players who gave everything they had on stage and throughout the entire rehearsal process."

Among the guests were The Mayor of Bolton, Councillor Carole Swarbrick, who was joined by 20 'VIPs' to watch the performance from the centre balcony.

As well as family, friends and newcomers, award-winning senior musicians from Smithills and their parents joined in the packed audience alongside members of the adult Smithills Community Wind Band and Community Choir.

Music on the night included iconic themes from movies including Star Wars, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park and the Dambusters.

BSO Chairman Robert Aston described the concert as “thrilling".

"The audience was visibly lifted and it was one of the best ever evenings for the BSO,” he added.