Banging the drum for Whitehead Orchestra

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Whitehead’s burgeoning arts community could soon have another string to its bow if the ambitions of a group of like-minded music lovers are realised.

The seaside town is a hub of creativity taking in everything from Victorian Street Fair to the Food & Folk Fest and the multiple award-winning Brighter Whitehead to the Bank House.

Hoping to further enhance that rich mixture is a score of musicians behind a proposed orchestra.

Conducting the initiative, which is at the exploratory stage, is June Edgar, for whom live music has always been key. Apart from teaching as a peripatetic string teacher around schools in the area, she has played in many orchestras, both amateur and professional.

June explained: “The interest and seeming demand to set up the orchestra has been strong. We have had at least 20 players who have expressed as interest in joining the ensemble.

“So far it is a mixture of string and woodwind players with a few brass players and a percussionist. We envisage the orchestra to be a fun, friendly group. We don’t intend holding auditions for would-be members.

“Some of those who play an instrument may never have played in an orchestra before. Others may not have played for years. But, hopefully, we will all have fun making music together.”

The ensemble will be home to members of any ability, whether beginners, rusty or competent and, while Whitehead-based, will be drawn from as wide a catchment as possible.

“It is about giving people the chance, some may not have yet had, to play in an orchestra. When we eventually get to meet up we are thinking of having sectional rehearsals first, a break for light refreshments and then rehearse as a whole group,” June continued.

“Each time we meet hopefully folk will leave playing a little better than before, whilst also having enjoyed themselves.

“Hopefully we will get the opportunity to perform in our local community and bring more live music to them. Perhaps, in return, it will encourage the listeners to try an instrument and to, ultimately, join us. It would be an excellent opportunity to form relationships with other music groups, such as bands, choirs and the Drake music project.

“Whatever our age or standard there is no better way to build musicianship, and meet like minded people, than be joining a music group. Aside from making practising an instrument more enjoyable, amateur music groups can provide great performance opportunities, and, of course, the social possibilities are endless.”

Once up an rehearsing, Whitehead Orchestra - initially self-funding - aims take its first public bow around the festive season.

June added: “ We would like to get as many people as possible who are interested to initially contact me by email at or on our Facebook page, ‘Whitehead Orchestra’, telling us what instrument they play and give us some idea of their standard.

“We would be self-funded to begin with, a minimum charge to cover the hire of a hall shared equally between group members. It would be great if we could get grants or sponsorship to purchase music, music stands etc.

“We haven’t, as yet, finalised a particular schedule or venue for rehearsals, but enquiries are ongoing, and we have said we would love to have an inaugural performance, in some form, around Christmas. All we need is the members, so if this is of interest to any players, particularly brass and percussion, then please do get in touch.”