About the Orchestra
HOW IT ALL BEGAN ...
In 1963 Mr. William Webster suggested starting an Orchestra for retired people, and Penilee Crafts and Hobbies Centre were able to offer suitable accommodation. Following an advertisement, 15 people attended the first meeting. Their enthusiasm overcame the many initial difficulties encountered. Glasgow Corporation granted them a piano and drums; unused music stands were donated; music was borrowed and rehearsals began!
The first public appearance of the Glasgow Senior Citizens' Orchestra was on 9th April 1964 in the Pearce Institute, Govan. Although their aim was to enjoy music themselves they felt they would like to share their enjoyment with others, and it was not long before a routine was established which continues to this day: a rehearsal every week and about 10 concerts a year during the session from September until May. Much of the inspiration and drive in the early days came from the geriatrician Prof Sir William Ferguson Anderson OBE. He believed that music-making had a definite therapeutic value for elderly people.
The orchestra was unique. No other town in the UK could boast such an organisation. In fact, a deputation came from the Netherlands to find out how it had been achieved.
The orchestra was featured several times on the Jimmy Mack Show. On one occasion we helped our conductor to achieve a lifetime's ambition. Because we had raised over £850 for "Children in Need", he was given the opportunity of conducting the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.
THE ORCHESTRA CONTINUES TO THRIVE
Orchestra Rehearsing in 2015
Each year our annual concert is held in the magniﬁcent surroundings of Glasgow City Chambers and rounds off our season for the year. In 2016/17, we performed at Kelvingrove Bandstand in June, at the Lagoon Centre in Paisley as part of the Age Scotland celebrations, and provided concerts at a dozen luncheon clubs for senior citizens in and around Glasgow. In total we played to audiences totalling almost 1200 people!
Our repertoire is mainly light-classical, and includes music from the shows and films, especially of the 50’s and 60’s, familiar classics, musical theatre, and arrangements of popular songs.
At our next concert we'll be playing some of the following:
|Tuneful and cheerful
|Grand March from Aida
| When I’m 64
|Intermezzo from Cavelleria Rusticana
|Pomp and Circumstance march
The orchestra continues to attract new members and our repertoire developed
by our musical directors.
We rehearse on Thursdays afternoons from September to May in Knightswood Community Centre,
where members of the public are welcome to sit in and listen.
ABOUT OUR MUSICAL DIRECTORS
COLIN SUCKLING (2023 - )
Colin Suckling is a retired professor of chemistry who is also an experienced musician. A horn player who, as a student played, with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, he contributed extensively to music in the University and the City of Glasgow through its several quality amateur orchestras. He founded the University of Strathclyde Concert Band and conducted it for 20 years, arranging and composing suitable music for it. He also founded and chaired the board of the West of Scotland Schools Symphony Orchestra Trust. Having spent much time working with and for young musicians, Colin says he welcomes the chance to share music making with an enthusiastic group of older musicians.
JOHN SMILLIE (2021 - 2022)
John Smillie started playing the tenor horn at a very young age in Hamilton Salvation Army before moving onto the trombone.
He served as a sergeant for 12 years in the Royal Highland Fusiliers Territorial Army military band playing all the brass and percussion instruments and, for more than 30 years, taught percussion in Glasgow schools and played percussion in theatres in the evenings.
In his retirement he continues to play the trombone and trumpet in a number of bands and orchestra as well as conducting several ensembles and Orchestras. He recently became the Musical Director of the Glasgow Senior Citizens Orchestra for which he has composed and arranged a number of pieces.
Any remaining time is spent composing and arranging music as well as pursuing his passion for collecting trombones of which he now has over 40!
BOB NELSON (2008 - 2021)
Bob Nelson is a distinguished violinist who has played with several professional orchestras, including the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the Scottish National Orchestra under Sir Alexander Gibson. He is currently musical director of the Clydeside Strings Orchestra.