The orchestra was founded in 1955 by Eugene Genin MBE.
Eugene was a conductor of a number of amateur orchestras in the Merseyside area. He worked as a peripatetic string instrument teacher in many schools, teaching violin, viola (his own principal instrument which he had played in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra), cello and double bass, as well as taking private pupils at his own home. Eugene was a pupil of Alfred Ross (taught by Joachim). Eugene’s wife Bertha (nee Murnaghan) played as a harpist in the Manchester BBC Northern Orchestra (now BBC Philharmonic).
Apparently, the idea for setting up an orchestra in the Lake District came from Mona Lloyd, a well-known Liverpool amateur violinist who was a teacher at a special needs school at Sandfield Park School.
The orchestra was first located at The Hollens, a hotel just outside Grasmere, and it was therefore known as the Grasmere Orchestra! It was a beautiful hotel in a wonderful setting, but we outgrew it and moved to Rydal Hall, just a couple of miles down the road, in the 80s. The Hollens was eventually sold and it’s now the regional office for National Trust. You can see it high up on your right as you drive past Grasmere towards Keswick. Here’s a picture of it in the snow.
The Genins had a huge collection of orchestral sets so there was (and still is!) always plenty of music to play. Eugene guarded this great treasure trove of sheet music fiercely, and woe betide anyone putting music on the floor or failing to return borrowed copies in time for rehearsals! Some of the music was stamped thus: Matthay School of Music; Rose Lane; David Lewis Theatre; John Ross etc. Those stamps read like a potted history of defunct Liverpool amateur orchestras.
In the early 1980′s, Eugene Genin was awarded the MBE in recognition of his services to music in Liverpool. After his death in 1983 his son-in-law Leo Byrne took over the baton at extremely short notice so that the Grasmere Orchestra was able to proceed as planned at the end of July.
We have played in various rooms in Rydal Hall, outgrowing them all. We now rehearse in the Bishop Bulley barn, in the hall grounds and a 1-minute walk from the bar! Our official name is The Rydal Genin Orchestra.The course starts on the last Saturday in July every year. Find out more about joining us here.