About the Orchestra
The Darlington Orchestra was formed in the late 1950s (we recently discovered that was a reformation, see below) and generally numbers around 40 players, depending on membership and requirements of the programme. A concert will usually include performances by a soloist or guest ensemble.
David Plews is an English literature graduate of Durham University and has been conducting the orchestra since 1994.
Some of our collaborations include:
In Spring 2004, Darlington Orchestra worked with musician and composer Andy Jackson on the Mozart 4 Kidz project. 12 local young people spent a week learning contemporary arrangements of Mozart’s music and joined the orchestra for a concert performance of Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.
Recently we were contacted by a Dr John Smith, formerly of Darlington, now living in Kings Lynn, Norfolk. He wrote this:
There was an Orchestra in Darlington before World War Two, but it was stood down on declaration of War in 1939. When peace broke out, my Father, who played Cello, and I, who played Violin, decided to resurrect the Orchestra. We found a trunk full of music in a jeweller’s shop in Northgate, including Lizst’s Les Préludes, Merry Wives of Windsor and Die Fledermaus.
We placed an advert in the Northern Echo, which produced about 30 musicians who met in the lecture room at the Grammar School, formed a committee and rehearsals began at Barnard Street School on Wednesday evenings under the leadership of Madame Anna Gomez. The Conductor was Dr R. A. J. Bull of Richmond. The patron was Lady Starmer.
I well remember coming home on leave from basic training to find myself playing the first violin solo part in the Bach Double Violin Concerto, at the NAAFI Club, clad in battledress and hobnail boots! The Army Garrison at Catterick Camp was instrumental (sorry) in providing extra players as needed. I especially remember W O Jaeger who later became director at Kneller Hall, the Royal Military School of Music. He took us to the Newcastle Music Festival, playing Mendelssohn’s Hebrides Overture. I played bassoon. Later I landed the job of bassoon in the Staff Band of the Royal Signals at Catterick, so could often play with the Darlington Orchestra.

Many thanks Doctor Smith. If anyone else would like to share their memories of the orchestra please contact us and we’ll put them here.

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