Where did it all begin?
The orchestral group was founded by Rhoda Udey (cello) and Sid Rutland (double bass) in 1976 as the Allington Ensemble. Its initial performances were mainly of string works though its members included woodwind and brass players. During the 1980s the orchestra changed its name to the Allington Strings and gave a series of substantial concerts under its then conductor, Frank Clarke, that usually included a piano concerto as the main item. Frank retired in 1991 and the orchestra did not meet again for about a year.
A New Start...
Ron Easey was then persuaded to take up the baton. Under his direction a series of string concerts was given in Bridport and the surrounding towns, the most notable of these being three performances of the Messiah under the auspices of BT Voices for Hospices through which, with the help of the Beaminster Singers, several thousands of pounds were raised for the Joseph Weld Hospice in Dorchester. Ron was also responsible for the concerts celebrating the Millennium and the Queen's Golden Jubilee. Ron retired in October 2002 and Neil Cuthill was appointed as his successor. Under Neil's direction, the Allington Strings performed numerous concerts in aid of charities and churches in the Bridport area and a number of very successful Christmas concerts with the Bridport Youth Choir, in which the conductor's brass playing students usually featured. Neil, who retired in December 2006, was succeeded by Wendy Staal. who pulled off some very challenging programmes with the orchestra until summer 2014 when she decided it was time to concentrate on other musical interests. Ron Easey has taken up the baton as guest conductor until the end of 2014, when the orchestra has been fortunate to recruit Arturo Serna as its conductor.
Under Arturo the group developed its repertoire to include an eclectic mix of South American, Classical and Romantic pieces and we were able to perform with some wonderful young soloists. We all wished Arturo well when he was accepted onto a Masters Degree and decided to step down as conductor. In 2018 the group appointed Mark Westwood as its conductor and now looks to broaden its repertoire further still and has plans to broaden its concert series too.