There has been an orchestra in Tauranga for many years. The inaugural recital of the Tauranga Orchestral Society took place in 1947, conducted by Stuart Petersen and featuring bass David Clark in a number of operatic items as well as some ambitious orchestral works. Several photos of the era survive in the archives of the Tauranga City Library.
The fortunes of the orchestra waxed and waned over the years, and in 1975 a group of musicians, who had been meeting informally since the 1960s as a night class group, decided to resurrect a real community orchestra in the region. The Tauranga Concert Orchestra Society was duly incorporated, a Management Board set up and a constitution registered. Some of those original players are still with the orchestra today.
In around 1990, the orchestra began to struggle following the loss of its conductor and some key players, but things changed when Warwick Braithwaite was engaged to conduct the orchestra in 1996. Warwick was able to re-instil a sense of enthusiasm and get the orchestra back on the right track. He was willing to give things a go: playing under a tree in the garden of a local home at the Save the Children Fund Garden Party, performing a paid concert at the Te Puke Club, encouraging local young musicians to be soloists with the orchestra, travelling the orchestra around the Western Bay of Plenty to perform in Katikati, Waihi Beach, Whakatane, Omokoroa, and Te Puke. We even played for a charity concert on the banks of the Wairoa River and finished just before the heavens opened!
- Find out more in part 2: Expansion and Development
- Find out more in part 3: Rebirth