About Us

Norman Nelson

NNelson Feb. 19, 2011 053Born 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

Listen to the orchestra

Principal player biographies

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 Merle at 250-642-7248 or email Merle: fulton5@shaw.ca

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 Wade Noble, this auditioned group of approximately 30 singers performs classical repertoire with the Sooke Philharmonic Chamber Players twice a year.

Wade Noble, B.Mus., M.Mus. (U.Vic.)

Wade has lived in Victoria since 1987 and holds Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the University of Victoria. Wade is sought after as a conductor, instructor, clinician and baritone soloist throughout Vancouver Island. He is well-known for being able to bring out high levels of musicianship from people of widely varying skills and backgrounds. In addition to his work with the Sooke Philharmonic Chorus, Wade also conducts the award-winning Vancouver Island Chamber Choir.

2014/2015 Board of Directors

President:  Bob Whittet, Retired Teacher

Past President:  Patricia Phillips, Retired Manager BC Liquor Store

Vice President: TBD

Treasurer:  Jim Mitchell, Accountant

Secretary:  Kathleen Campbell


Lorna Bjorklund, Music Teacher and Developer of Music Programs for School District #62

Marilyn Cudmore, Mental health clinician/ Doctoral student

Stephen Cudmore, Retired/Fire Rescue Business

Dr. Leslie King, Professor, Royal Roads University

Kathryn Mainguy, Retired HR Manager

Derek Wakefield, Retired Instructor, Camosun College


The Orchestra would like to thank Michael Nyikes for his beautiful photos that appear on this site!