Life Members

Lou Bagley: flautist and conductor

Lou played a crucial part in the orchestra as a conductor in 1992 at the time the orchestra was experiencing lean times. Through her efforts the smallish group held together and under her direction concerts were still presented. Lou was awarded Life Membership on 15th May 1999, following the final performance of the orchestra’s inaugural ‘Last Night of the Proms’.


Ross Bennett: violinist, violin maker and repairer of stringed instruments

Ross, a very dedicated player, for a time led the second violins. He served as librarian for a good period of time and was, with Barbara Stuart and Lou Bagley, responsible for the cataloguing of all the music stored in two different places. He was a long time Life Member.


John Berentson: clarinet, president and accountant

John was part of the organising group originally set up to form the society in 1975.  He was largely responsible for drafting the original constitution. He later served as president of the society for a term. He was the Honorary Auditor of the society for many years, and in retirement he took over the duties of being the society’s accountant and handling the monthly financial accounting requirements. He was the orchestra librarian for a number of years. John played clarinet with the orchestra over many years, later switching to playing tuba for a number of concerts.


Warwick Braithwaite: conductor/music director

From 1996 to 2005 Warwick nurtured the Tauranga Concert Orchestra and inspired players so that the number of players and their expertise developed and grew. The orchestra tackled works previously considered beyond their scope. A pinnacle was reached in 1999 when very successful performances of ‘The Last Night of the Proms’ were presented. Warwick’s contribution to the growing success of the orchestra was huge. He keenly encouraged up and coming young musicians to extend their musical experience and join the orchestra. At one time there were eleven young people in the group. In 2005 Warwick was awarded Life Membership for his outstanding service to the orchestra.

Read about Warwick’s work in Our Beginning.


Merle Fausett: board member and dedicated Friend

Merle has been a tower of strength for the orchestra over many years.  She was awarded Life Membership in 2005. She was instrumental in establishing and running the Friends of Bay of Plenty Symphonia and organising their annual fundraising concerts. Merle’s organisational skills and dedication have long been appreciated in many aspects of the orchestra’s activities. 


Rae Riley: violinist

Rae is the one surviving member of the original night school orchestra from which the Tauranga Concert Orchestra emerged in 1975. For many years Rae was not only a dedicated player but also filled the roles of leader and president. Her Life Membership goes back many years.


Norman Sinclair: double bass

Norm, as he was commonly known, was awarded Life Membership in 2001. For many, many years he was the only bass player in the orchestra and his dedicated contribution to the orchestra was huge and really appreciated.


Marlene Stewart: fund raising and marketing

Marlene’s background in Marketing was a real bonus when she became a member of the Board of Management in 2006. It was Marlene who instigated the orchestra’s very first ‘Last Night of the Proms’, an event which captured the hearts of the population of Tauranga and its surrounds. She was tireless in her efforts to raise sponsorship dollars and raised many thousands over the period of her time as a member of the Board. Marlene was awarded Life Membership in 2012.


Barbara Stuart: violinist

A long time player with the orchestra, Barbara served as president and librarian over a long period of time and stood down from the role of president to concentrate on the librarian duties. Barbara was awarded Life Membership on 15th May 1999, following the final performance of the orchestra’s inaugural ‘Last Night of the Proms’.