John has been a member since 1996 but lapsed for a few years when work pressures prevented attendance on Monday evenings. He has played the viola since 1961 and now practises about 2 hours per week. He plays a 19th century English instrument purchased in 1967 from Dietrich Kessler, a viol maker. His parents could not afford the £180 to buy a viol for his 21st birthday. Any violinist will tell you that a viola is very easy to play! He is a chartered engineer, aeronautics and other engineering subjects, currently lecturing with the Open University.
One of his grandfathers was the conductor of an amateur orchestra, the other a piano teacher. The first grandfather’s violin was always in the house during his childhood. He now also possesses his other grandfather’s piano. In the first term at secondary school sixth-formers came to the class and brilliantly demonstrated their instruments. The music teacher had a double first from Oxford in French and mathematics but could only get a job teaching woodwork in the interwar years. He devoted his spare time to making 20 or so violins and started the school orchestra. John was inspired to play the violoncello but parental finances dictated that grandfather’s violin would be played.
John also plays violin in chamber groups, played tuba in a military band from 1977 to 1993, sings in a choir and plays double bass in the Hayes Symphony Orchestra. It has strengths and weaknesses that complement the Bromley Symphony. He has previously played in the Lewisham Symphony, Eltham Philharmonic, Havant Symphony and Plymouth Symphony orchestras. The first two were mainly populated by sixth-formers and music students. The standard of soloists was very high. The latter two are the regional equivalents of the Bromley Symphony.