Born in Dublin, Ireland, Norman began his violin studies when he was 10 years old. At the age of 15 he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London and at 20 was appointed to a position in the first violin section of the London Philharmonic Orchestra. He has held the position of Assistant Concertmaster with the Royal Philharmonic, Philharmonia, BBC Symphony and London Symphony orchestras. He was a founding member of the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, the most recorded chamber orchestra in the world. In 1965 Norman was appointed Concertmaster of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. He also formed the internationally acclaimed Purcell String Quartet. He has appeared as soloist with many orchestras, including the London Symphony, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, BBC Symphony and Vancouver Symphony. As a chamber musician, he has performed in every major city in North America, and in Europe, Russia, Japan and China.
In 1979 Norman was appointed Professor of Violin and Chamber Music at the University of Alberta in Edmonton and the leader of the University String Quartet. In 2007 he was awarded the Orchestras Canada Betty Webster Award for his sustained and significant contribution to the Canadian orchestral community. In May 2012, Norman was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, which honours outstanding Canadians whose achievements have benefited their fellow citizens.
Norman and his wife Jenny live on Vancouver Island. Norman continues to be an active player, teacher and conductor.
Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra
This community orchestra, with more than 60 members, was founded by Norman Nelson in 1997 and performed its first symphony concert in June 1998. With the subsequent introduction of the Sooke Philharmonic Chamber Players and the Sooke Philharmonic Chorus, the concert season now features four programs (eight concerts) plus the ever-popular Philharmonic “Fling”, an open air pops concert performed each summer. In addition, small ensembles perform regularly at community events and fundraisers.
As part of our commitment to support and encourage young musicians, the Sooke Philharmonic Society sponsors the annual Don Chrysler Concerto Competition for Young Musicians. The winner performs with the orchestra at the Celebration of Young Artists concerts in the fall.
Each year, our week-long Sooke Harbour Chamber Music Workshop attracts musicians from Canada, the U.S. and Britain.
Through the efforts of Maestro Nelson and the musicians and supported by many dedicated volunteers, the Sooke Philharmonic has grown to become the major musical presence it is today.
Sooke Philharmonic Chorus
Are you a singer? Have you ever wanted to sing with a live orchestra? The Sooke Philharmonic Chorus is looking for more members. We rehearse on Saturday mornings from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM. For more information, please call Lynda Rose at 250-642-3536 or email Lynda: email@example.com
Click here to learn more: New Members SPO article 2017
The chorus began as the Sooke Festival Chorus, performing in the millennium Sooke Festival of Performing Arts under the direction of Christopher Symons. After two seasons, it became the Sooke Philharmonic Chorus in 2002, with Mary Wolfe (Holland) as Choral Director.
Now under the direction of Nicholas Fairbank, this auditioned group of approximately 30 singers performs classical repertoire with the Sooke Philharmonic Chamber Players twice a year.
After early studies in B.C., Nicholas Fairbank pursued further musical training in London, England and Paris, France. He holds Masters degrees from the Université de Paris (musicology and French literature), the University of California at Santa Barbara (French language and pedagogy), and the University of Victoria (music composition), as well as Associateship diplomas from the Royal Conservatory of Music (gold medal winner for pipe organ, 1981) and the Royal Canadian College of Organists (Willan and Barker prizes 1998), of which he was the National President from 2012-2014.
Established in Victoria since 1995, he keeps busy as a conductor, and in this capacity has worked with many Victoria-area choirs and orchestras, including the Linden Singers, the Victoria Choral Society, and the Civic Orchestra. He is currently Artistic Director of the Via Choralis Chamber Choir and Director of Music at First Unitarian Church of Victoria.
He is also on the faculty of the Victoria Conservatory of Music, where he teaches organ and harpsichord, and he performs regularly both as organ soloist and as a collaborative musician and continuo player. As a recitalist he has toured across the country as well as performing in Europe and in Mexico.
Mr. Fairbank is an established composer whose catalogue of compositions includes more than 80 works for organ and piano solo, voice, and various choral and instrumental ensembles.
2016/2017 Board of Directors
President: Kathleen Campbell
Past President: Bob Whittet
Treasurer: Jim Mitchell
Dr. Leslie King
The Orchestra would like to thank Richard Robinson and Michael Nyikes for their beautiful photos that appear on this site!