A Short History of the Orchestra
In late 1996 Jean Giese, then President of U3A Hawthorn, expressed her dream of forming a chamber orchestra. After some discussions, George Logie-Smith kindly agreed to come out of retirement ”to get us started” and become our first Director.
In mid - 1997 a small group of musicians, several of whom had worked years before with George in the Astra Chamber Orchestra, began rehearsals in the hall of the Oxley Rd Uniting Church, Hawthorn. Numbers grew during the 2 years of George’s leadership, and we gave several successful concerts, the first on October 9th, 1997 in the Chandelier Room of the Hawthorn Town Hall.
As George’s health failed, we were fortunate indeed in March 2000 to secure the guidance of Christopher Martin, whose reputation attracted many more players and, under Christopher's direction, we grew to some 55 members with a fairly good balance of instruments. Christopher retired from the position in April 2010 soon after his 80th birthday. We have also enjoyed the occasional leadership of Phillip Carrington, Basil Hawkins and, more recently, Willem van der Vis. Our conductors since 2012 have been Gyula [Jules] Cseszkó and Willem Van Der Vis.
Our players include several ex-MSO members and many enthusiastic and skilled amateur musicians who, in their retirement, can devote themselves to quality music-making. As our numbers grew, we made the move to a larger hall for rehearsals, and for the last several years have enjoyed the rehearsal facilities at St Mark’s Anglican Church, Camberwell. For several years we gave our concerts in the Hawthorn Town Hall, but since its closure for refurbishment in 2012/13, we have been enjoying the facilities of several schools in the area including the Madeleine Centre at Genazzano College and the Performing Arts Centre at Camberwell Grammar.
Our repertoire includes symphonies, concertos and smaller works, mainly from the 18th to the 20th centuries, by composers such as Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, and Schubert, though the inclusion of brass and percussion sections has widened our scope. A feature of our programming has been to invite young musicians to perform as soloists; a valuable experience for all!