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Symphony of love for Northop man in tune with musicians

Published date: 01 July 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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A MAN who created an orchestra for anyone willing to “give it a go” has been celebrated at a concert in his memory.

Kenneth Richard Sage from Northop, who founded one of Wales’ most successful community orchestras more than 39 years ago, died on February 14, aged 67.

The father-of-two was just months away from celebrating 40 years as musical director and conductor of Orchestra Y Ffiniau.

An evening of music was held in his honour and also as a celebration of the continuing success of the orchestra he set up.

In October 1974, Mr Sage was a young music teacher at St David’s High School in Saltney.

Believing that after secondary school, there were few opportunities to continue playing in an ensemble, he set about finding people who shared his interest in instrumental music.

The idea was to form an orchestra and, through an article in the newspaper, Mr Sage invited anyone “with sufficient interest to give it a go”.

St David’s Music Society was born with six members but six months later, by March 1975, that number had risen to 20.

At first, rehearsals took place at St David’s High School but when Mr Sage retired from teaching in 1997, the orchestra moved to its new home at St Mary’s Church in Broughton.

Here it was renamed Orchestra Y Ffiniau (Welsh for ‘The Border Orchestra’), the name it retains today.

With more than 30 members currently, the aim of the orchestra has always remained the same – “to provide a warm and friendly atmosphere to promote, improve and develop an enjoyment of playing together, irrespective of ability and, occasionally, without pressure, to give public performances for the local community and charitable causes”.

Orchestra Y Ffiniau’s musical evening, A Tribute to Ken Sage, took place at St Mary’s on Friday, June 20 and was conducted by David Evans who has inherited the baton from Mr Sage.

Orchestra secretary and founding member Fred Berridge said the evening had been a wonderful tribute to a larger-than-life character whose life had been devoted to music and to helping people play together.

“Ken gave people the opportunity to play, whatever their ability,” he said.

“Some people play an instrument in school but when they leave they and go off and do something else – and later they think they’re not good enough to join an orchestra.

“Ken’s idea was to give those people an opportunity to play again.

“Music gives people confidence. It gives you all sorts of things, particularly if you’re in a group. That’s what Ken gave people.”

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