Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra is an orchestra in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.


Founding and early years[edit]

The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1949.[1]

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[edit]

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;[2] the programme was studied by the (American Symphony Orchestra League, and Chuck Mangione engaged the HPO for his Grammy Nominated album "Friends In Love."

To carry out the plan, Boris Brott was hired as music director in 1969.[3] Under his direction, attendance at HPO concerts rose to about 225,000 throughout the early 1970s.[4]


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.[4]

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.[5]

Brott remained conductor of the orchestra until 1990.[6]

From 2007 to 2015, the orchestra performed under the direction of James Sommerville.[7][8]

In 2015 New Zealand-born Gemma New was hired as the orchestra's director;[9][10] the orchestra gave its first performance under her direction in February 2016.[11]

The orchestra continues to perform along with school and community groups and to participate in local community events.[12]


  1. ^ Freeman, Bill (2006). Hamilton: A People's History. James Lorimer & Company. p. 153. ISBN 978-1-55028-936-7. Retrieved 2010-04-12.
  2. ^ Miloslav Rechcigl Jr. (10 November 2016). Encyclopedia of Bohemian and Czech-American Biography. AuthorHouse. pp. 592–. ISBN 978-1-5246-1987-9.
  3. ^ Roderick L. Sharpe; Jeanne Koekkoek Stierman (30 May 2008). Maestros in America: Conductors in the 21st Century. Scarecrow Press. pp. 329–. ISBN 978-1-4616-6948-7.
  4. ^ a b Freeman, Bill (2006). Hamilton: A People's History. James Lorimer & Company. pp. 173–174. ISBN 978-1-55028-936-7. Retrieved 2010-04-12.
  5. ^ Arthur Gribben (1999). The Great Famine and the Irish Diaspora in America. Univ of Massachusetts Press. pp. 259–. ISBN 1-55849-173-2.
  6. ^ James H. Marsh (1999). The Canadian Encyclopedia. The Canadian Encyclopedia. pp. 540–. ISBN 978-0-7710-2099-5.
  7. ^ "THE SCOOP | Boston Symphony Orchestra To Tour Canada This March". Musical Toronto, By Michael Vincent on January 17, 2017
  8. ^ "Sommerville says it’s time, he’s leaving the HPO". Hamilton Spectator, Sep 13, 2013 By Leonard Turnevicius
  9. ^ "Snap, crackle and pop: Gemma New and HPO light up Hamilton Place ". Hamilton Spectator, Sep 18, 2016 Leonard Turnevicius
  10. ^ "Gemma New of Hamilton Philharmonic is 1 of continent's few female conductors". By Samantha Craggs, CBC News Jul 04, 2015
  11. ^ "HPO’s new music director makes her debut — and it was worth waiting for". Hamilton Spectator, Feb 07, 2016 Leonard Turnevicius
  12. ^ "Recap: Rock overcomes rain at Supercrawl Saturday". By Adam Carter, CBC News, Sep 10, 2016

External links[edit]