Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra


The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra (HPO) is a Canadian orchestra based in Hamilton, Ontario. The orchestra gives concerts primarily at the FirstOntario Concert Hall.


The Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1949.[1] Its first concert took place on 16 January 1950, at the Memorial School Auditorium. Jan Wolanek was the first music director of the orchestra, from 1949 to 1958. During the orchestra's history, Olive Short served as its concertmaster, the first female concertmaster in North America.

In the late 1960s, Betty Webster, Marnie Paikin and Larry Paikin developed a plan, known as "The Hamilton Plan", to bring music to the community from in-school children's concerts to international artists 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. In 1984, Michael Quigley published a book about the orchestra, A Centenary History of the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra.[5] 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] Brott remained conductor of the orchestra until 1990.

In 1996, the orchestra declared bankruptcy. The orchestra re-emerged in 1997 as the New Hamilton Orchestrna, with Mario Bernardi its as part-time artistic advisor through 1999. Daniel Lipton succeeded Bernardi as part-time artistic advisor for the 1999-2000 seaso. nIn 2000, the orchestra reverted to its former name. Michael Reason served as its full-time artistic director from 2001 to 2006. After an interim period with Timothy Vernon as artistic advisor,[6] James Sommerville was music director of the HPO from 2007 to 2015.[7]

In 2015, Gemma New was named the HPO's music director.[8][9] The orchestra gave its first performance under her direction in February 2016.[10] New is the first female music director of the HPO.[9] Her most recent contract extension with the HPO is through the 2023-2024 season.[11]

Music directors

  • Jan Wolanek (1949-1958)
  • Leonard Pearlman, Bryden Thomson (1958-1959)
  • Victor Di Bello (1958-1962)
  • Lee Hepner (1962-1969)
  • Boris Brott (1969-1990)
  • Victor Feldbrill (1990-1996)
  • James Somerville (2017–2015)
  • Gemma New (2015–present)

See also


  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. ^ Stanley Saunders and Lynn Mcguigan (2013-12-14). "Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2020-11-27.
  7. ^ Leonard Turnevicius (2013-09-13). "Sommerville says it's time, he's leaving the HPO". Hamilton Spectator. Retrieved 2020-11-27.
  8. ^ Leonard Turnevicius (2016-09-18). "Snap, crackle and pop: Gemma New and HPO light up Hamilton Place". Hamilton Spectator. Retrieved 2020-11-27.
  9. ^ a b Samantha Craggs (2015-07-04). "Gemma New of Hamilton Philharmonic is 1 of continent's few female conductors". CBC News. Retrieved 2020-11-27.
  10. ^ Leonard Turnevicius (2016-02-07). "HPO's new music director makes her debut - and it was worth waiting for". Hamilton Spectator. Retrieved 2020-11-27.
  11. ^ "Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra announces the extension of Gemma New's contract through 2024" (Press release). Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. 12 November 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-27.

External links

  • Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra