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The History of The Spa Orchestra


People have gathered at the Spa since the 1620s. Then, they came to benefit from the magic healing qualities of the water, today they come to enjoy the music of its orchestra.

When the railway opened in 1845 visitors began to arrive in their thousands and a few years later the world's first cliff-side tram transported the town's guests from the top of the South Cliff to the Spa down by the sea. Today's Spa - the Grand Hall, Theatre, galleries, cafes and walkways that the 21st century visitor knows - was opened in 1880 after fire destroyed the previous building.

During the Victorian and Edwardian eras the Spa was established as a centre for great entertainment featuring the best of British musicians, actors and music-hall acts including Sir Charles Halle and Ivor Novello.

The Spa Orchestra was created in 1912 by Alick Maclean. This first ensemble of 35 professional musicians gave daily concerts in the Grand Hall and Suncourt. Concert programmes included music from the classical repertoire, Viennese waltzes, operettas, and popular songs of the day. This unique musical tradition has been continued by Musical Directors since Maclean including Max Jaffa between 1960 and 1986.

2012 was Scarborough Spa Orchestra's centenary year.  Now in its 102nd year the current Orchestra has blended these time-honoured experiences with a range of innovations.

Where else could you go to recline in a deck-chair, listen to world-class performances of music and look out across a sandy beach and to the sea? In the evening sit in the fabulous Grand Hall and, during the interval, meet members of the orchestra as you enjoy a drink and relax to the sound of the waves on the shore.


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