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The late Joseph Needham originally founded Salford Symphony Orchestra in 1947. He was a protégé of Sir Henry Wood, on whose recommendation came to Salford, where he was appointed director of music for Salford City Police Band. Eventually with the help of freelance professional string players, he formed Salford Symphony Orchestra. Sir John Barbirolli was the orchestra’s President for some years. After Joseph Needham’s death, John Crossdale took over as MD. His first performance was a memorial concert for ‘Joe’. Salford Education Authority with Jack Fryer as MD and conductor, later absorbed the orchestra.

After many successful years, the orchestra disbanded in 1985. Following requests from the Salford public and musicians, the orchestra was re-formed in 1995.


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SALFORD SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA - Recollections from Jack Fryer

"I came to work for Salford Education Authority just in time to attend the memorial concert for Joseph Needham. So I never knew Joe personally but as ‘Mr Music’ in Salford he Iaid a solid foundation on which I built as Music Director of the Symphony Orchestra he founded.

I co-operated closely with the then leader Wilfred Lewtas who was skilful at finding musicians to fill any gaps in the ranks of dedicated members. I remember rehearsals in a large room above the old Education Office in Bexley Square and many happy concerts, first in Salford Technical College new building and then the Peel Hall. We played a wide range of music from Arthur Sullivan to Sibelius, by way of Beethoven, Dvorak (Symphony 8 was very popular), Tchaikovsky ( a resounding performance of ‘1812’) and much more. The piano developed a noticeable squeak during Ravel’s Piano Concerto but it did not worry our large and faithfully supportive audience.

I particularly remember the prestigious concert with Peter Mountain (see programme), ex-leader of Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and a well-known professional soloist. His performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto was so much appreciated by the orchestra and audience. He wanted to play again with us but his commitments would never allow it.

I directed the orchestra throughout the late 1960s and 70s until my colleague Bill Spry took over. This photo was taken in the Peel Hall in 1982. I don’t know why I look so sad! Perhaps I was worried that the orchestra was about to be disbanded. I’m very glad it is performing again with my old friend Barrie McKinnon as conductor.  I wish you all every success in the future".