Trianon Heritage

An introduction by Chris Green

The Beatles had not happened and skiffle reigned supreme when a few young musicians thought about extending their placing into the school holidays.  In the 1950s we were all members of the Ipswich Youth Orchestra which was organised by Suffolk Rural Music School then based in Soane Street, Ipswich.  The SRMS was the employer of peripatetic teachers including Bertha Carter who was to devote much of her time to teaching young string players in schools such as Northgate, Coplestone and Westbourne.


Sir Malcolm Arnold, former President of Trianon Music Group

The RMS was part of a national network of organisations designed to widen the music making in non-metropolitan areas with headquarters in Hertfordshire.  In Suffolk one of the prime movers was Monica Cholmondley who also conducted the Ipswich Youth Orchestra.  It met on Friday evenings at Bolton Lane, then part of the Tower Ramparts School (long demolished to make way for the shopping centre).  There must have been about 40 members from local schools.  The repertoire was as modest as our playing, but somehow the time seemed right for something more and with the help and support of two other players the Trianon orchestra came into existence.

We may have been the organising spirits, but we depended upon many friends amongst the other players to form the backbone of this small band which was to pay visits to local churches and play as part of the evening services.  Those were days when such services would attract congregations and, when there was a Sunday School Anniversary or Harvest Festival, the church might even be full.  It took a bit of courage before we performed in front of a wider public.  I would not have the foggiest idea of how many people were ‘packed’ in to the new Music Room at Northgate School in 1959 to hear us play.  I suspect it was about 30 who formed that audience – but we were keen!  The next step was a concert in a large hall. The Ipswich Co-op Hall in Carr Street has all the resonance of a venue for the has-beens …  The only trouble is that we had not yet arrived, although the Mayor of Ipswich did grace that concert and we have some photos to mark the occasion.  There is a youthful David Lewis amongst the string players and somewhere one might even see Graham Ranson in the cello section.

I can recall asking one of the teachers at Northgate School if he would come and play his bassoon at one of the early concerts.  His reply was to the point”  “You can’t be serious.  Do you think I would be seen playing with such a group?”  Such encouragement was the order of the day although a few teachers had sufficient faith to believe that we might get pleasure from what we did.  Bertha was one of them, as was John Parry, the Head of Music at the Northgate Grammar School for Boys.  to them, I shall ever be grateful.

When one is young, the sky is the limit and within four years we had a group of players who could also sing.  Together with some other singers who could not play the Trianon Choir came into existence and so Trianon Music Group was born.  One of the principal features then, as it is now, was independence.  We hardly had a grant to keep us running and, to this day, we have never sought to get local grant aid.  That is not bad for over 40 years of independence.


Adapted from an original article by Chris Green published in 1999, Trianon’s 40th anniversary year.