In the late 1970s, the municipal orchestra based in Dumfries folded through lack of interest and falling musical standards.
Then from around 1985 an ad-hoc orchestra called the Galloway Chamber Orchestra, based in Newton Stewart, came into being under the leadership of Dave Montgomery from Creetown. This took the form of a group of his friends and colleagues from the region and beyond giving a concert every spring in Newton Stewart and occasionally elsewhere.
In 1995, Girthon Church, Gatehouse of Fleet hosted a performance of the Faure Requiem 'from scratch' with an ad hoc group of musicians. One of the violinists, Sarah Berker, subsequently asked the conductor, Geoff Keating, if he would conduct the first performance of her 'Caerlaverlock Suite', written for the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve. The sights and sounds of both the NNR and adjacent Wildlfowl and Wetlands Trust Reserve were the inspiration for her work. A concert was organised in Easterbrook Hall, Dumfries on October 12th 1997 with an orchestra of some sixty players.
The success of this event spawned the idea of an orchestra which would convene as required for a couple of concerts each year. We were very fortunate that Geoff conducted us for 21 years. Click here to read a little potted history about him. However he decided to retire and we have therefore gone through the process of finding his successor. Three excellent candidates were auditioned on 13 January 2019. The successful candidate was Hilario Flores-Coni, originally from Argentina, but now based in Glasgow. Welcome to the orchestra Hilario!
Members of the orchestra are drawn from a very wide area - from Glasgow to Penrith and from Whithorn to Jedburgh. We rely on the goodwill of our members who play for the love of doing so and also on generous sponsorship and patronage.
We have aimed to put on a major concert in Dumfries in the late Autumn with a smaller event in the Spring elsewhere. So far we have performed in Newton Stewart, Lockerbie, Castle Douglas, Carlisle, Kirkcudbright, Gatehouse of Fleet, Langholm, Annan, Stranraer and Moffat. We would value any suggestions for other suitable venues.