A very warm welcome to Cranbrook's local Orchestra.
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Michael Robertson has enjoyed a long career in professional music-making as a harpsichordist, organist, conductor, teacher and academic. He is a specialist in early music and studied with the internationally renowned harpsichordist, Gustav Leonhardt. He has performed in many of the major London concert halls including the Barbican, Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Wigmore Hall and St. John's Smith Square.
In recent times, Michael has gained a doctorate from the University of Leeds following his research into the seventeenth-century German suite. His highly acclaimed book on the subject, The Courtly Consort Suite in German-Speaking Europe, 1650-1706 was published in 2009. He also edits seventeenth-century music for publication in both England and Germany and is a contributor to various academic journals. His conducting career has been wide and varied, especially with choirs and choral societies. He lives locally, and has recently been appointed a visiting research fellow at the University of Leeds.
History of the Orchestra
Cranbrook Symphony Orchestra (Kent, England) began in the mid-1960s, when Wilfred Oldacre, a retired clergyman and amateur flautist who taught Latin at DCPS (Dulwich College Prep School), gathered a group of players keen to join an orchestra. They met at a hut in the grounds of DCPS. Wilfred Oldacre conducted predominately in the early days of the orchestra, but on occasion a cellist, Cecil Irvin conducted.
The orchestra gained momentum during the 1970s when John Williams, then head of music at Cranbrook School, conducted the orchestra and met regularly at ‘Big School’ and was assisted by David Murphy of Angley School.
The orchestra flourished throughout the early 1980s regularly giving three concerts a year, usually in the Queen’s Hall, with good varied programmes that included a concerto. During this period the orchestra was conducted by Peter Aviss and led by Kathryn Aiers.
From 1983 the orchestra continued to prosper under the baton of Peter Currie, notably there were two concerts with the Cranbrook and Dramatic Society - a Viennese night and a Gilbert and Sullivan evening.
Towards the end of the 1980s the orchestra floundered but Lance Whitehead (current leader of the cellists) and others reignited the orchestra.
Judy Hollis, then head of strings at Ashford School and teacher at Sutton Valence School, too over the baton and became conductor in 1989. Under her guidance the orchestra became stable and prospered. Some ambitious programmes were performed, including a performance of The Creation with Sutton Valence Choral Society. She remained conductor until she retired in 2007.