WHO WE ARE, HOW WE BEGAN
The White Rock Community Orchestra is a non-profit organization which began in 1973, with the formation of a small orchestra. It was originally called the “Silver Comets” which reflected the hair colour of the strictly senior musicians in the orchestra. Gradually, the face of the orchestra began to change with
the inclusion of musicians of all ages, with more challenging music, and with recognition and the opportunities to perform in local venues.
Past Conductors include:
|Gladys and Frank Muir||Gladys and Frank Muir were the original founders of the orchestra, in the early 1970’s when the name was “The Silver Comets”. The original orchestra consisted of about ten members, and played at the newly opened Kent Seniors Activity Centre. Gladys was the orchestra’s pianist util retiring from the keyboard in her early 90’s. She also directed the White Rock Singers, who performed with the orchestra.|
|Tom Carroll||Mr. Carrol worked with the Muirs, also helping conduct during the early years.|
|William Gratch,||Mr Gratch's first concert was Dec. 1973, when the name was changed to “The Kent Centre Activity Orchestra.” Mr. Gratch passed away in September, 1980. He was also a professional violinist of great talent|
Mr. Landers took over from interim conductor Fred Binning after Mr. Gratch passed away in 1980. He was an experienced professional musician, teacher, and a graduate of the National University of Dublin.
During his years with the orchestra, during the mid 1980’,s Mr. Landers involved educational and musical experience for students and adults of all ages, which began the gradual evolution of the orchestra away from being a primarily “seniors’” organization.
|Charles Cuthbert||He took over for Tom Landers, whose eyesight and hearing were failing. Exact years of service are not available, but he was conducting in 1991, with The White Rock Singers, who were directed by Gladys Muir. He was still with us in 1996.|
|Felix Markey||Mr. Markey, an accomplished bass clarinetist, served as conductor for a short time, but left due to personal reasons.|
|Richard Epp||1998 - 2007|
|Jeffrey Chow||2007/2008. Mr. Chow spent seven months with the orchestra from November 2007 to May 2008.|
|Roger Wecker||September 2008 - June 2015|
|Stuart Martin||September 2015 - June 2016|
Also, heavily involved with the orchestra’s progress during the 1980’s were Gladys Muir and husband Frank Muir, after having returned from missionary work in Africa. Gladys was the orchestra’s pianist, until retiring from the keyboard in her early 90’s. She also directed The White Rock Singers, who performed with the orchestra.
Currently, the membership is comprised of musicians of all ages, and provides a venue for individuals to play high quality works of music from the great composers of the Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and 20th Century Periods, as well as popular works from Broadway and other theatrical, holiday, and traditional music.
As a volunteer orchestra, musicians come and go, but the membership retains around 30 musicians, and the orchestra welcomes additional musicians, especially in the strings section, the woodwinds, and brass. Tryouts are not required, but the desire to commit, and play within an orchestral setting, improve one’s musical skills with challenging music, as well as the full enjoyment of making music is integral to the success of the group.
As a community based orchestra, performances are held at seniors residences, hospitals, and other venues in the Lower Mainland, during December, late May, and early June. At least twice a year, performances are open to the public as fundraisers for maintenance of the orchestra. This orchestra is a group of extremely friendly, enthusiastic musicians who look forward to regular Saturday morning rehearsals which last for two hours.