About Us

Founded in 1970, the orchestra is no longer very “new” but when Stephen Pettitt had the idea of forming a full-scale amateur symphony orchestra, there was the inevitable problem of what to call it. There had already been a “Tyneside Orchestra” so we added one word and the NTO was born.

Since then we have more than doubled in size and now number over seventy; members come from all walks of life and the age range extends from students to retired people. We are all amateurs, so we play because we want to – and we welcome the challenge of playing a wide range of great works for full orchestra. We rehearse regularly on Monday nights and many of us get together socially after rehearsals and at other times to play more music. 

The NTO has presented concerts at many venues throughout the region, from Alnwick to York, from Carlisle to Tynemouth, and further afield with concert tours to Norway and Zurich. We have links with Newcastle Cathedral and have played several successful concerts there, most notably a concert to commemorate Martin Luther King in November 2017. Other recent venues have included Newcastle University's King's Hall and the banqueting hall at Newcastle Civic Centre.

The Orchestra plays 3 main concerts a year, with recent additional concerts including a Christmas concert at the Cathedral and in support of Northern Sinfonia at the Sage for the modern music festival. Members of the orchestra also contribute to a "Musical Chairs" charity concert twice a year, where players perform in small groups or solo. 

Over the years we have performed with many soloists of international standing, something we all appreciate. The opportunity of accompanying such artists as Nigel Kennedy, Myung-Wha Chung, Emma Johnson, Julian Lloyd Weber, Malcolm Binns and - in the early days, Leon Goossens and Jack Brymer – does not come every day. We have also invite players from the Northern Sinfonia to lead our sectionals twice a year - a great opportunity for members of the orchestra to receive some professional coaching .

The NTO has occasional vacancies in some sections of the orchestra and anyone interested is asked to contact us.

The New Tyneside Orchestra is a registered charity (number 508234) managed by a committee elected at the Annual General Meeting, which is held in October of each year.

The Committee members for 2019/2020 are as follows:-

  • Chairman Simon Hirst
  • Secretary Annette Nicolle
  • Treasurer Kirsty Pearson
  • Ex Officio Monica Buckland (musical director to December 2020)/ Mark Edwards (musical director from January 2020)
  • Ex Officio Dawn Allen (leader)
  • Rachael Leisk
  • Sarah Walters (librarian)
  • Andrew Martin
  • Kirsty McDowell
  • Brian Tanner

Monica Buckland (Musical Director)

The British / Swiss conductor Monica Buckland has been based on Tyneside since 2016, following her return to the UK after 25 years in Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Germany.

She originally trained as an opera conductor but has gone on to enjoy a wide-ranging career, from guest concerts with orchestras such as the Tonhalle Zurich, through conducting ballet at the Semperoper Dresden, to conducting the backing orchestra for a rock group. She has worked with both professional and amateur orchestras and choirs, and has recorded for CD and radio. Her three commercially available CDs are of contemporary Swiss music.

Monica Buckland has won several awards, including a scholarship to the Basel Music Academy, a prize at the Leeds Conductors' Competition (England) 1994, and the conducting prize of the Swiss Musicians Association / Kiefer-Hablitzel Foundation 1992 and 1993.

From 2004 to 2006, Monica Buckland was Principal of the Tibor Varga Conservatoire and Music Academy in Sion, Valais, becoming the first woman to head a conservatoire in Switzerland.

From 2008 to 2014, Monica Buckland was Artistic Director of orchestras at the TU Dresden. She also lectured at the Palucca Hochschule für Tanz, Dresden and the TU Dresden. She is still actively involved in higher education, as an Associate of Newnham College, Cambridge.

In addition to working regularly with the New Tyneside Orchestra, recent projects have included masterclasses at the National University of Singapore, and concerts with Orchestra North East and the Çukurova State Symphony Orchestra (Turkey).

Dawn Allen (Leader)

Dawn Allen has led the New Tyneside Orchestra for more than 10 years and has been an important part of the team that has developed the orchestra over that period. She also plays in a number of other orchestras including British Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, London Gala and Orchestra North East. Dawn has performed as a soloist playing Beethoven’s Romance in F major, Mozart’s Adagio and Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov. She also has successful careers as an inspiring teacher and leading her string quartet, Andrelli.

Her bright and engaging personality make her an excellent leader of our orchestra, both personal and musical.

Fancy a tryout?

Do you play the Viola, Percussion, or Trumpet? NTO is looking for good (Grade 8 standard) players.

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