Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra
Founding and early years
The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1949.
Former concertmaster, the late Olive Short, mother of Tony and Emmy Award winning comic actor Martin Short, was the first female concertmaster in North America. She died in 1970 five years after being diagnosed with cancer.
The Hamilton plan
In the late 1960s, Betty Webster, Marnie Paikin and Larry Paikin developed a plan to bring music to the community from in-school children's concerts to international superstars appearing with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. They organized concerts at which all school children in a 60-mile radius of Hamilton centre (excluding Toronto) would hear a brass ensemble, woodwind ensemble, string quartet and percussion ensemble in their school, followed by a trip to the orchestra hall at the end of the school year to hear a full symphony orchestra concert. The ensembles seeding the orchestra were headlined by Canadian Brass and the Czech String Quartet. The programme was studied by the (American Symphony Orchestra League, and Chuck Mangione engaged the HPO for his Grammy Nominated album "Friends In Love."
Under Brott, the orchestra developed to the point where it could accompany well-known international artists, including Phillipe Entremont and Maureen Forrester, and began to develop an international reputation. However, the change in focus from a community orchestra to a full-time professional orchestra led to financial difficulties, and concert attendance began to recede.
Canadian Brass, which in 1979 was the first brass ensemble to play the main stage of Carnegie Hall, developed much of its repertoire and style while performing in front of thousands of Hamilton area school children as part of the Hamilton Plan.
In 1984 Michael Quigley published a book about the orchestra, A Centenary History of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra.
Brott remained conductor of the orchestra until 1990.
The orchestra continues to perform along with school and community groups and to participate in local community events.
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- Arthur Gribben (1999). The Great Famine and the Irish Diaspora in America. Univ of Massachusetts Press. pp. 259–. ISBN 1-55849-173-2.
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- "THE SCOOP | Boston Symphony Orchestra To Tour Canada This March". Musical Toronto, By Michael Vincent on January 17, 2017
- "Sommerville says it’s time, he’s leaving the HPO". Hamilton Spectator, Sep 13, 2013 By Leonard Turnevicius
- "Snap, crackle and pop: Gemma New and HPO light up Hamilton Place ". Hamilton Spectator, Sep 18, 2016 Leonard Turnevicius
- "Gemma New of Hamilton Philharmonic is 1 of continent's few female conductors". By Samantha Craggs, CBC News Jul 04, 2015
- "HPO’s new music director makes her debut — and it was worth waiting for". Hamilton Spectator, Feb 07, 2016 Leonard Turnevicius
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