While Orchestra Wellington has only just completed its debut season as an independent brand, the Wellington Regional Orchestra Foundation Inc. has been operating for 63 years in the Region, making it the oldest city-based orchestra in the country. The Orchestra plays an extensive role in the cultural life of Wellington City and the wider region, presenting its own Subscription Series concerts, family and educational concerts, its biennial Summer Concert at Government House and a developing array of outreach and community development activity. In addition to this, Orchestra Wellington engages in accompaniment services for the Royal New Zealand Ballet, NBR NZ Opera and several other national and regional arts bodies and plays for up to 100,000 people each year in Wellington, the lower North Island and the upper tip of the South Island.
The Alex Lindsay String Orchestra, named after its founder, came into being in 1948, becoming an incorporated society in 1950; this was the precursor to today’s Orchestra. The Alex Lindsay Orchestra had a distinguished career until its demise in 1973. Its termination coincided with the presentation of a report by John Hopkins, former Principal Conductor of the National Orchestra, for the Arts Council on the provision of orchestral services throughout New Zealand. The loss of the Alex Lindsay Orchestra, which supported opera, ballet and choral performance, was seen as a major blow to the region’s musical activities and, upon Hopkins’ recommendation, a new orchestra was established with the support of the Arts Council. This new entity included many of the players from the Alex Lindsay String Orchestra, and as both Wellington Sinfonia and Vector Wellington Orchestra since, Orchestra Wellington maintains this stable activity in the area.
An elected Board now governs Orchestra Wellington, and its administration is led by a General Manager. Currently, the Orchestra is working with a growing family of sponsors and partners, and its major funding bodies are Creative New Zealand, Wellington City Council, New Zealand Community Trust and Lion Foundation.