Studio Symphony Orchestra

The Early Years

Programme covers from 1949, 1950, 1958 and 1973.

Early Concerts

12 Jan 1957 Whitla Hall, Queen's University: The Studio Symphony Orchestra with the Dublin Orchestral Players
23 Nov 1963 Assembly Hall, Belfast: the Studio Symphony Orchestra and the Dublin Orchestral Players 'Combined Symphony Concert'
30 Nov 1963 Marian Hall, Dublin: the Studio Symphony Orchestra and the Dublin Orchestral Players 'Combined Symphony Concert'
12 Nov 1965 'Festival 65', Whitla Hall, Queen's University: Performance of Benjamin Britten's War Reqiuem by the Ulster Singers, McCready Singers, St. Anne's Cathedral Choir, Olin Chamber Orchestra, Studio Symphony Orchestra and soloists Veronica Dunne, Edgar Fleet and Eric Hinds
8 Nov 1967 The New Church of St. Bernedette, Rosetta: Ulster Singers and the Studio Symphony Orchestra


Programme Note from our 10th Anniversary concert in 1958

Ten years of music making together - it is a record anyone would be proud of and we in the Studio Symphony 0rchestra are justly so.  It was from a small band of enthusiastic amateur string players from Killyleagh and district that the idea was first born of the formation of a larger body based in Belfast.  In 1948, apart from the orchestra of the Belfast Philharmonic Society, there were few chances for orchestral playing and so the response to the idea was most encouraging. The inaugural concert was given in the Performers Club in the autumn of 1948 and was well received.  From then on we went from strength to strength and during the intervening years have more than doubled our number. In 1956 the Orchestra decided with the availability of amateur wind and brass to become symphonic though continuing to present string works as well.

Dr. Havelock NelsonPerformances have not been confined to Belfast and we have travelled far afield to give concerts, some in conjunction with local choral societies.  We have been to Londonderry, Coleraine, Ballymena, Ballycastle, Randalstown, Bangor, Portadown, Downpatrick, Armagh and many other towns. Our furthest visit was to Dublin in 1956 when we gave a joint concert with the Dublin Orchestral Players, which was repeated a month later in Belfast.  We hope it may be the first of many joint ventures by amateur orchestras.

There have been a number of highlights in our career - possibly the most memorable was the concert at the opening of the Sir William Whitla Hall at which we were privileged to take part.  In addition to performing orchestral items we joined forces with the University choir in Faure's "Requiem".  (We hope to repeat this work in our Tenth Anniversary Season with the Ulster Singers next month).  Then there was the launching of the Studio Opera Group with Haydn's "La Canterina" culminating in Humperdinck's "Hansel and Gretel" in 1955.  We recorded the incidental music for the Festival of Britain film in 1952.  Finally our association with the Ulster Singers since 1953 must be mentioned, resulting in such choral works as Vaughan Williams "Hugh the Drover", Bach's "St. Matthew Passion", Brahms' "Requiem" and most recently Honegger's "King David".

All these performances were not achieved without hard work by all concerned. Tributes must be paid to our conductor, Dr. Havelock Nelson; our deputy conductor, Dr. Kenneth Donnan; our leaders (Alfred Campbell, 1948-51. Phillis Tate, 1951-56, and Audrey Brett from 1957); our secretaries (at present Miss Yvonne Hutchison), our librarians (at present Miss Norma Ellis) and finally to our Treasurer, Mr. Norman Moody, who has held the office since the Orchestra's foundation.  To the members themselves for their hard work and loyal support it is impossible to give sufficient praise. Still their reward has been in the pleasure gained from making music together. The Orchestra's gratitude is also due to:-

The Vice Chancellor of Queen's University for the use of this hall, and also to the staff for their help.

C.E.M.A. for publicity and general co-operation.

Hart and Churchills, Crymbles and Tughan for selling tickets.  The Tughan Piano Company for the frequent loan of pianos.  The many professional musicians who have helped our ranks when required.

The first part of tonight's programme will be devoted to string works previously played in the last ten years and the second part to symphonic works new to us.

Orchestra Members - 1958

1st Violins
Audrey Brett (Leader)
Henry Rodway
Heintz Hammerschlag
Dorothy Stevenson
Norman Moody
Yvonne Hutchison
Ann Wright
Ina McClean
May Black
Neil Downes
Catriona Lamb

2nd Violins
Norma Ellis
Leigh Bell
Olive Stevenson
Cyril Nimmons
Stella McClenaghan
Hazel Martin
Freda Hingston
Elsie Larmour
Joan Fitzgibbon
Dorothy Moore
Doris Crowe
Brenda Sheppard

Angela Payne
Kenneth Donnan
May Campbell
Frank Fee
Joan Kerr
Violet Sloss
George Gibson

Joan Bateman
Joy Marshall
Monica Neal
Eric Crowe
Nora Darling

Gwen Black
John Bryson
Norma Burrowes
Dorothy Dunlop

Double Basses
George Field
Ivan Gray

Edmund Duke
Stephen Phillips

George Taylor
Stanley McCready

Michael Connolly
Ronald Lee

Patric Stevenson
A.K. Frazer

Jim Beck
Denis Wilkins

Harold Uprichard
Henry Bradford

Bert Walker
Frank McCloy

Herbert Mitchell
Lawence Redmond

25 Years of Melody

Press article ahead of our 25th Anniversary Concert in 1973

Tomorrow evening is a very special occasion for the Studio Symphony Orchestra and for its founder, Dr Havelock Nelson.  The concert it is giving in the Elmwood Hall, Belfast marks its 25th anniversary, an event which deserves to draw a large attendance of the music lovers of the Province which the orchestra has delighted over the past quarter century and the congratulations of any who may not be able to join personally in this happy occasion.

Dr. Nelson, well known to television and radio audiences, not only in Northern Ireland but in many parts of the world, founded the orchestra in 1948 with the help of an enthusiastic band of string players from Killyleagh.  It grew rapidly and acquired symphonic status in 1953.  Today it is one of the largest amateur adult symphonic orchestras in Ireland.

It has been responsible for many first performances in Province, not only on its own but also in collaboration with the Ulster Singers and the Studio Opera Group.  Many established players had their first orchestral experience in it - James Galway, principal flautist with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, David Strange, leading cellist in the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Michael Skinner, chief percussionist in one of the leading London orchestras are but a few of the names of past members.

For tomorrow's concert the orchestra’s leader for many years, Audrey Brett, will fly over specially from London where she plays in the BBC Symphony Orchestra.

The soloist in Rachmaninoff’s well known C minor Piano Concerto is the distinguished local pianist Michael McGuffin, who as been associated with the orchestra over the years.

The programme, which is designed to show the orchestra's wide repertoire, will include a performance of Vaughan Williams London Symphony.