The de Havilland Philharmonic is the resident orchestra of the University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield. The orchestra currently has a membership of approximately 80 professional, semi-professional and talented amateur musicians.
50 years of music making
The de Havilland Philharmonic – originally The Hatfield Philharmonic Orchestra – was founded in 1969 by Sir Norman Lindop, the Director of the then Hatfield Polytechnic. Sir Norman had previously founded the Forest Philharmonic while at Walthamstow Technical College under the instigation of Frank Shipway. Frank was then invited to lead the Hatfield Philharmonic as its first Artistic Advisor and conductor. It was agreed that the Polytechnic would fund the Orchestra’s rehearsals, appointing a professional leader for each of the string sections, a woodwind co-ordinator and a conductor. This model has proved to be very successful and the Polytechnic, now University, has remained the generous benefactor of the Orchestra to the present day.
In October 1978, Howard Burrell, Head of Music at the Polytechnic, took over as Artistic Advisor and Conductor of the Orchestra, an appointment he held until his retirement in December 2003.
Since 1996, under the umbrella of UH Arts, the Orchestra has continued to flourish. The generous level of support has over the years enabled the Orchestra to tackle some of the larger and more diverse works from the orchestral repertoire and to engage internationally renowned soloists such as John Lill, Guy Johnston, Craig Ogden, Mary Carewe and John Myerscough.
When the University expanded onto the de Havilland Campus in 2003 the newly built Weston Auditorium became the orchestra’s fabulous new home and in December of that year the Orchestra gave the inaugural concert to mark not only the christening of the new building but also the retirement of conductor Howard Burrell after twenty-seven years. Under the baton of dynamic conductor Robin Browning the Orchestra changed its performing name to de Havilland Philharmonic, to reflect the historical links with the site on which it regularly performs.