History of Whitehorse Orchestra

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of Whitehorse Orchestra.

Founded by Tony Szachas Cook, it has progressed from a small training orchestra for secondary technical school students to a well-established community orchestra of more than 70 players.

During the 1970s and 80s the orchestra was little more than a chamber group, which rehearsed at Box Hill TAFE College Music Department.

Key people who contributed to its development include Marion Souter, Andrew Mathers and Kevin Purcell. However, the most significant contribution has been made by our conductor of 30 years, Gerald Keuneman OAM, who accepted the role of Music Director in 1990, the year the Orchestra moved to its current rehearsal venue at the Box Hill Community Arts Centre.

Since taking up the baton, Gerald has lead the orchestra on a remarkable journey contributing to the performing arts both in the City of Whitehorse and further afield.

The orchestra played for many years at the Carols by Candlelight in the Box Hill gardens and at the annual Spring Festival in the City of Whitehorse. It played at the opening of the newly designed Box Hill Aqualink, and at the extension of the city to Box HIll tramline.  Further back in time, the Orchestra also performed at Box Hill Hospital’s 40th anniversary celebrations in April 1996. In 2015 Whitehorse Orchestra travelled to China and was welcomed as a guest of the government of Shaoxhing, which has a friendship city relationship with the City of Whitehorse. The Orchestra performed a number of concerts, including one designed especially for children. The other major performance was a joint concert with the University of Shaoxhing’s School of Music.

Back in 1996 the Orchestra was invited by the then Council of Adult Education to work with it to ensure the continuation of the annual Harrietville Music Camp, which it had been running since the mid-1970s. The relationship continued until 2005, when the CAE asked Whitehorse Orchestra to take over management of the Camp. The 2020 Harrietville Music Camp will be 15th to be held under the auspices of Whitehorse Orchestra.

Whitehorse Orchestra holds three major concerts each year, as well as its annual children’s concerts.



Concert Performance 10th April 2016 at Box Hill Town Hall