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A young boy in a suit holds a conductor's baton in one hand and gestures with the other

A Young Director Takes up the Baton

After 10 years, the orchestra had become fairly well-known within the Niagara community.  In this decade, education outreach programs began, partly to make up for the collapse of school music programs. In 1960/61 a three-concert series for school children was established, as well as ensembles to get children playing orchestral instruments. The Symphony Chorus was founded in 1963, and the orchestra expanded their concert venues and repertoire, performing at St. Catharines Collegiate and Rodman Hall, and offering more variety.

“Children’s Corner Suite” by Milton Barnes was an exciting project to involve children in the symphony.  A competition encouraged kids to submit themes they created; Barnes chose 5 themes, and worked them into a composition which the orchestra then performed. (Transcript of newspaper article)

5 winners of the composition challenge with Milton Barnes

Children’s Corner Suite Composers

The school board cancelled school music programs for 1961/1962, and the orchestra worked with the board to create an extra-curricular program to keep children involved in music. Paul van Dongen was in charge of string students, and Steven Pettes the brass and woodwinds. In years to come, they combined their programs to create what is now the Niagara Youth Orchestra.

3 members of women's committee hold membership poster

1957/1958 Membership Campaign. Click on image for transcript of newspaper article.

In 1957, Mrs. Betty Lampard took over as music and theatre critic of The Standard, which gave the orchestra an incredible profile. Everything associated with the symphony – concerts, women’s teas, fundraisers – were covered in the newspaper.

In 1961, the board changed our name to The St. Catharines Symphony Orchestra.


Our  Conductors:

headshot of Dr. F. R. C. Clarke

Dr. F. R. C. Clarke, Conductor

  • Frederick Clarke – 1957/1958
    • Local organist, choir director, and composer
  • Leonard Pearlman – 1958-1964
    • Just returned from 5 years of study in Europe
    • From Winnipeg
    • Formed a feeder group for the orchestra
  • Milton Barnes – 1964-1972
    • From Toronto
    • Had been studying orchestral and operatic conducting at the Vienna Academy of Music
    • Also a talented composer
Leonard Pearlman demonstrates conducting to 3 students

Leonard Pearlman with Students

Ticket Prices:

1957 $6, (student $2.25)
1966 $8, (student $3)