Exhibition will tell the story of our orchestra

Todmorden Orchestra in concert, pictured by Bill Hunter. As well as memorabilia, articles will be changed weekly, so it's worth making more than one visit to the exhibition
Todmorden Orchestra in concert, pictured by Bill Hunter. As well as memorabilia, articles will be changed weekly, so it's worth making more than one visit to the exhibition

Geoff Love’s trombone will form the centre-piece of an exhibition to mark the centenary of Todmorden Orchestra.

Donated by the famous band leader in 1959, it was in recognition of the chance given to him to learn trombone and play in the Orchestra particularly by Dr John de Ville Mather.

Between himself and his son Northgate, the two Drs de Ville Mather held the Presidency of the Orchestra for 65 years from 1920 to 1985 and the success of many members was due to their enthusiasm.

The Orchestra had been formed five years previously in 1915 when the instrumentalists and singers of Todmorden Musical Society separated.

The Musical Society itself was an amalgamation of two earlier groups, the Musical Union and the Todmorden Harmonic Society which was formed around 1835.

In the early years the repertoire mainly concentrated on old favourites such as “The Merry Widow” and “Lilac Time” gradually moving towards Beethoven and Haydn and now even including such huge challenges as Mahler and Shostakovitch. Throughout the years Handel’s “Messiah” has been a firm favourite with Todmorden folk with the first full performance in 1858 and the 50th in 1905. For many years now it has been an annual event in the orchestra’s calendar.

As well as rehearsing at the Methodist Church every Tuesday, the Orchestra is a sociable group of people who enjoy each other’s company at barbeques, Christmas Dinner, coffee mornings, ten-pin bowling, playing carols and busking at Morrisons, and fish and chips “On the Bus” at Tony Pollard’s Grandma Pollard’s shop at Walsden.

The exhibition will include memorabilia of concerts, conductors and soloists from across the years as well as anecdotes and memories from longstanding members and features about current players.

It will open on March 3 at Todmorden Tourist Information Centre on Burnley Road and will run for a month, with articles being changed weekly.

Well worth a visit!