In 1946 the far sighted Councillors of Guildford’s Municipal Council set up a Municipal orchestra. Those who were experiencing post-war rationing and hardship were able to enjoy some community cohesion and were able to enjoy the classical music played by professional musicians.
By the time I was attending concerts with my parents in the mid to late 1960’s the orchestra was fêted across the country as a top division professional orchestra and at the time Guildford Council directly employed the musicians and the phenomenal conductor and musician Vernon (or ‘Tod’) Handley was making a name for himself and for Guildford at the cutting edge of English music. The modern programmes were not always the crowd-pullers that would have underlined the success of the orchestra, but hundreds if not thousands of young people were inspired through his Proteus Choir to perform at a remarkably high level – in the process learning about teamwork, camaraderie, musicianship and a great love for English song.
The model of employed musicians was under strain for a long time before the retained conductor position was removed (Sir Charles Groves being one of the last holders of the post) and with it the in house musicians. Continue reading
After two appearances at Guildford Borough Council’s Corporate Improvement Scrutiny Committee and a Freedom of Information Act Request (refused by the Council’s Information Officer), we are at a stage where the Council’s Executive Committee is playing out its endgame for the Philharmonic behind firmly locked doors.
The most recent Scrutiny Committee minutes appear to have been misrepresented by the inclusion of a cut-off date of 15th July that no-one I know who was present can recall ever being given.
David Hill, Chief Executive of Guildford Borough Council (who makes it hard for anyone to have any good words to say about him) sent out letters dated 1st June 2012 which were not sent out until some weeks later, and which did not mention any cut-off date.
A redacted copy of this letter can be seen here.
At the most recent Scrutiny Committee I was given a very much limited slot (required to use up a third of the 3 minutes allocated to me by explaining whether I had any conflicts of interest, etc.) and so I made available a copy of my report into the Philharmonic to all Councillors on the Committee – having previously sent it to the Portfolio Holder, the Leader and the Chief Executive.
A copy of my report is available here. Continue reading