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.
2013/2014 Board of directors
President/Vice President: Bob Whittet, Retired Teacher
Past President: Patricia Phillips, Retired Manager BC Liquor Store
Treasurer: Jim Mitchell, Accountant
Secretary: Kathleen Campbell
Lorna Bjorklund, Music Teacher and Developer of Music Programs for School District #62
Dr. Leslie King, Professor, Royal Roads University
Marilyn Cudmore, Mental health clinician/ Doctoral student
Stephen Cudmore, Retired/Fire Rescue Business
The Orchestra would like to thank Michael Nyikes for his beautiful photography which appears on this site!