Rahul Sharma

Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra

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The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra is an orchestra in Hamilton, Ontario. It was founded in 1949.

In the late 1960s, establishing itself as the most innovative orchestra in North America, the "Hamilton Plan" was begun. A consortium of Elizabeth "Betty" Webster, Marnie Paikin and Larry Paikin developed a strategy that would bring music to the community from in-school children's concerts right up through international superstars appearing with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. The "Plan" envisioned that 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. So successful was this programme that it was studied by the (then) ASOL (American Symphony Orchestra League). In fact, the spirit was so high amongst the musicians participating in the "Hamilton Plan" that their spirit inspired Chuck Mangione to use the HPO for his Grammy Nominated album "Friends In Love." Early in the plan it was determined that a music director was needed to be the face of the plan; Boris Brott was hired in 1969. It was generally agreed through the first half of the 1970s that Hamilton had become the world's finest community orchestra, able to accompany great artists on the level of Phillipe Entremont and Maureen Forrester. The future of the orchestra brought financial ruin when the "PLan" was mostly abandoned while the orchestra tried to become a full-time professional orchestra. While attendance at HPO concerts had risen 23,000 to 225,000 through the early 70s, they began to recede again as the orchestra became less of a community based one. .

Of particular note, 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.

Also of extreme interest is the fact that Canadian Brass has often cited its opportunity to play in front of thousands of Hamilton area school children as the training ground and laboratory for its quest to become the first brass ensemble to play the main stage of Carnegie Hall in 1979!

References

Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra Wikipedia


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