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History of the Orchestra

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Winchester Amateur Orchestra in 1976

Winchester Amateur Orchestra started as a Hampshire County Council evening class in 1951, and was conducted by John Sealey, one of the music Dons at Winchester College. When John Sealey left in 1964, David Gwilt, also a music Don at the College, followed him. The tradition continued with Francis Wells, who conducted the Orchestra until 1992, when Hilary Brooks, took over.

Our present leader, Peter Marsh, follows Malcolm Evans and Harry Meredith, who both led the orchestra in the period between 1970 and 1994. The orchestra is indebted to him for his patience and perseverance.

During the troubled times of the early 1970's, the Orchestra, by now a thriving concern, was destined to be axed by Hampshire County Council as an evening class, due to the electricity cuts. The members were reluctant to give in so easily, so when Winchester College offered us the Music School facilities to rehearse in, they were gratefully accepted. These events precipitated the move to complete independence from the County Council, and the orchestra became a registered charity in 1984.

The original purpose of the orchestra - to give its members the pleasure and experience of orchestral playing, to improve their standards, and to give concerts - has not changed over the fifty years of existence. Our programmes have been more adventurous and challenging to a degree that could not have been imagined in 1951, and we thank all our conductors, and particularly Hilary Brooks, for leading us down this path and helping the orchestra go from strength to strength.

The Orchestra was renamed Winchester Symphony Orchestra at the AGM of 16 September 2002. Nicholas Wilks took over as conductor in September 2006.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 March 2009 02:05  


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