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50 Years On – The Founder Chair Looks Back!


Hallam Sinfonia was delighted to have five founder members present at the 50th anniversary concert – two in the orchestra and three in the audience. The latter included the founding chair, Michael Merryweather, who had travelled with his wife Sue from Devon (where incidentally our leader Hannah Thompson-Smith attended his music centre while she was at school – leading to an unexpected reunion at the concert).


Michael has sent us his post-concert reflections as follows:


"To those who remember them, the 1970s seem in many ways like a different world from that which we know today. In music, it was a time of rapid expansion in the provision of free instrumental tuition in the country's state schools and in the instrumental teaching teams who supplied this.
"It was also a time when people in all walks of life sat down for a proper lunch hour. A discussion in one of those lunch hours led to three of us, Ian Hamilton, David Greenlees and myself approaching other musicians to form an ensemble based on the instrumentation of a small “classical” chamber orchestra. Ian was the original principal oboist (and Vicky Holmes's teacher, so an unbroken link there!) and David the Hallam's inaugural leader.
"With the help of our young professional conductor and a benevolent, music-loving solicitor, we were constituted as a charity and I found myself elected chair. Sadly, neither Ian nor David is still with us, so I should like to think that I was representing them at the Anniversary Concert on Saturday.
"It is fair to say that the last thing on any of our minds was to found an institution which would still be in existence half a century later! Having moved away from the area well over thirty years ago, before the communications revolution of computers and smartphones, it is only relatively recently that I discovered that the Hallam Sinfonia was not only still in existence but also thriving to the impressive extent of its current scope, relevance, outreach and quality, as we heard on Saturday.
"Congratulations to all of you and those of intervening generations, who have run with our idea to develop it so successfully."
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