More about the Newton Abbot Orchestra

(The following text taken from the previous website so is somewhat dated...)

The membership of the orchestra has increased significantly through recent years to around 40 players, and the standard has improved dramatically. The new musical director, Robert Young, has led the drive to improvement, attracting new young players and raising the standard of play. Rehearsals are focussed and concentrated - although still great fun - and members are delighted with the transformation of their orchestra.

The repertoire has, always, included classical overtures and symphonies as well as some lighter music from shows, for instance. It has, now, become more ambitious, not only in repertoire but also in venue, testing audiences not only in Newton Abbot but in Teignmouth and Torquay and, recently, in Buckfastleigh and Paignton.

The first concert of the 2007-8 season was played at the request of Ashburton and Buckfastleigh Rotary Association. An audience of over 200 people, many of whom had never heard of this orchestra, enjoyed a thrilling evening of music, including Mozart, Beethoven and Faure. A regular feature of the concerts is the inclusion of the orchestra's own quartet, playing music often arranged by the then chairman and still current first cello, Janna Bulmer (Morasch). £1400 was raised at this concert, almost all of which was given to the Ashburton Family Worker project, which is supported by Rotary.

The orchestra took part in the Newton Abbot Mayor's Charity Concert on March 8th at Coombeshead Arts Theatre, together with Raddon Hill Clog Morris Dancers and Stover School Cantabile Choir. It was a successful event with which the Mayor, Cllr. Keith Smith, was very pleased. Over £1000 was raised for the designated charity; Home-Start (Teignbridge). Included in the orchestra's part in the concert was the world premier of a piece entitled Bowing the Dust, composed by Janna Morasch (lead cellist and then chairman of the orchestra). It was well received by an appreciative audience, as were all the pieces played.

The next concert, on May 15th at St. Luke's Church in Torquay, was another success story and the standard of playing was, if anything, better than ever, largely due to the fanatastic direction from Rob Young. The audience, though not huge, was appreciative and a return visit is likely next year. Among the items played was the piece composed by Janna referred to above. And a talented young Bassoonist, Joe Scarffe, played Mozart's Concerto for that instrument.

As a result of a second invitation by Ashburton and Buckfastleigh Rotary Association, this concert programme was repeated in St. Luke's Church, Buckfastleigh, on June 20th to an appreciative audience which braved very wet weather to attend. A report of the concert can be seen on page 55 of the July 11th 2008 edition of the Mid Devon Advertiser.

And, we were invited to give yet another concert in Buckfastleigh on 12th December! So, what did 2009 bring to the orchestra? In fact, it was an ambitious scheme to accompany the Torbay Operatic Society in concert performances of 'Showboat'. Four were given in late March at Oldway Mansion, Paignton, Abbotsbury Church, Newton Abbot, and two at the Flavel Centre in Dartmouth. Then, in May, it performed in a Studio in Dartington and, in July, gave concerts in the Daphne Colman Hall and in front of St. Leonard's Tower in Newton Abbot. And, once again, it was asked to give a concert in Buckfastleigh in December (10), which was very successful.


Memories – by Hilary P. Kingsley

Newton Abbot Orchestra had its beginnings many years ago as the Linden Orchestral Players. I believe these were led and conducted by a viola player, Rosina Wall. Her father, Alfred Wall, had studied at the Royal College of Music and had two daughters, Rosina and Dulcie who was a cellist. When Rosina gave up viola playing because of arthritis, her sister conducted the Linden Players and they assembled in the screened-off area at the West end of the nave of St Leonard’s Church. Dulcie renamed the group Newton Abbot Orchestra.

When I first joined with trepidation I was encouraged to continue by Mary Bennett who played the viola. That must have been some time in the late 1970s. When St Leonard’s closed, the orchestra moved to the gymnasium of Coombeshead College, sometimes used the school hall there, and later moved to the Daphne Collman Hall in Knowles Hill School. Dulcie Salder was succeeded as conductor by Marion Room, a teacher at Audley Park School in Torquay. Other conductors followed her, and three members of one family were among them, David Bourne, his wife Lorraine and their son Steven. Our present conductor, Rob Young started with the orchestra at Knowles Hill School (now Newton Abbot College).

(10th March 2011)

Rob Young – biography

Rob gained his Music degree at Goldsmith’s College, London in 1990 where he also received further tuition on piano.

Upon returning to Devon to join the family’s Ultrasonic business he soon took up position as Musical Director of the Kingsbridge Amateur Theatrical Society (K.A.T.S) for whom he M.D’d ten shows. During his time with K.A.T.S, Rob worked with other societies including T.O.A.D.S Theatre Company in Torquay, as Assistant M.D. for Cabaret, Chicago and Singin’ in the Rain.

In 1999, he became Musical Director of the Torquay Operatic Society, and during his time with them has M.D’d Me & My Girl, Fiddler On The Roof, Rock Nativity, Hello Dolly, High Society, Pajama Game, Brigadoon, 42nd Street, Crazy For You, Putting It Together, Oklahoma, Cowardy Custard, Oliver, Anything Goes, and Showboat in Concert (in collaboration with the NAO) – plus numerous concerts at Oldway Mansion, The Little Theatre and The Palace Theatre Paignton. T.O.P.S Musical Productions' (as they are now known) Autumn 2010 show is Disney’s Beauty & The Beast to be staged at the Princess Theatre, Torquay.

In April 2003 Rob was MD for a production of Oliver produced by a newly formed company, Amdram Productions, based in the South Hams. Other productions (staged at Torquay’s Little Theatre) include An Evening With The Master – A Tribute to Noel Coward, Something’s Afoot, Side By Side By Sondheim and two productions by Maltby & Shire: Closer Than Ever and Starting Here, Starting Now.

In 2004 Rob became Chorus Musical Director for Plymouth’s community musical event Music Of The Night, and repeated the experience for 2006 and 2008. He greatly appreciated the opportunity of conducting the Bands of the Royal Artillery and Her Majesty’s Royal Marines.

Rob has M.D’d Copacabana, Oliver and Hello Dolly at The Northcott Theatre in Exeter for the Exeter Musical Society, and was M.D for a charity event called Heart & Music, and Plymouth Theatre Company’s production of Little Me both performed in 2005 at the Devonport Playhouse.

In October 2006, Rob became conductor of the Newton Abbot Orchestra and since then, has conducted fifteen successful concerts at such venues as Newton Abbot College, Oldway Mansion, Dartington College, and more recently at Hannahs at Seal-Hayne. The orchestra also performed in the event that launched the Newton Abbot Art Festival and enjoyed playing in the open air at St Leonard’s Tower in their home town in July 2009.

He has also had a lot of experience as an accompanist and over the past few years has worked on a number of different ventures with the actor/writer Peter Reeves including accompanying him in his one man show An Entertainer’s Ragbag at the Palace Theatre, Paignton. During the past few years they have given many performances of an adaptation of Peter’s West End show The French Have A Song For It and Rob frequently MDs productions for Peter at the Blue Stage.

In addition to M.D'ing, conducting and accompanying, Rob has also found time to write music, and plans to devote more energy to this in the future.


In 2000, following a family tragedy, the Max & Rebecca Memorial Concerts were started by Rob and his family and with the enormous support from some truly great friends, concerts have been held at Bremridge, the family home near Ashburton, to raise money for children’s charities every year since. The events are proving a great success and in addition to the usual August concerts, five 'classical' concerts have been hosted with the Stamford Piano Quartet, the piano trio Trio Lavolta, and Trio Agréable, coming down from London to give recitals. The pianist in these ensembles is Sally Mays who taught Rob at Goldsmiths College.

On December 23rd 2006, the first ‘Bremridge Christmas’ concert took place, and since beginning, the total funds raised to date have now exceeded £40,000, with the Exeter Neo-Natal Unit, CLIC,  Little Bridge House Children’s Hospice for the South West, and St Luke’s Hospice all benefiting from the proceeds.


Rob Young (with Janna Bulmer)

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The Newton Abbot Orchestra
Contact: Cath Palmer-Wills oboecath@hotmail.co.uk