Jacoba and Roger arrived at Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra at the turn into the 1980s: Margaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Jimmy Carter was the US President, and Robert Mugabe had been recently elected as President of Zimbabwe. It was also the year that Pacman (remember that?) was released, the Rubik’s Cube made its debut and John Lennon was fatally shot. Attitudes were shifting around the world, and closer to home the BSO had recently made a physical shift itself — into Lighthouse, Poole, which was known in 1980 as the Poole Arts Centre.

Jacoba and Roger have witnessed the artistic development of the Orchestra under eight principal conductors: Paavo Berglund (to 1979); Uri Segal (1980-82); Rudolf Barshai (1982-88); Andrew Litton (1988-94); Yakov Kreizberg (1995-2000); Marin Alsop (2002-08); and Kirill Karabits (2009-present).

Jacoba was just 19 when she was appointed as Principal Viola No.3, in 1980. Fresh from the Yehudi Menuhin School, she was a student of Frederick Riddle at the Royal College of Music when she undertook her first professional orchestral audition — it was only ever intended as a practice run! With a passion for helping other musicians, Jacoba is the current Chair of the BSO Benevolent Fund, and has also worked as a Trustee for the charity. She is also a member of The Court of Assistants of The Royal Society of Musicians of Great Britain — the oldest charity for musicians, it was founded by Handel and his contemporaries in 1738 as a ‘Fund for Decay’d Musicians’.  In addition to her work in the concert hall, she is an accomplished dressmaker and has produced made-to-measure evening dresses for players Tammy Thorn, Judith Preston and soloist Tasmin Little. A practised Chocolatier who loves to cook, Jacoba’s creativity knows no bounds!

Jacoba in Bristol, 1980

Similarly, Roger was appointed to the BSO at a young age. He auditioned for the No.2 Cello role, only two years after leaving the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and was appointed in December 1979. Roger had worked as a cellist in the CBSO for year before arriving in Dorset, and he’s continued to play an active role ever since. He’s been Musician Trustee on the BSO Board for over 20 years, and has remained a steady force on the front desks of the BSO cello section throughout. Roger is recognised for his work in guiding a new generation of talented players to the fore through his work with the RPS Award-winning ensemble, BSO Resound. He enjoys the fact that the BSO’s broad range of repertoire continues to throw up new challenges and always knew that playing the cello was his vocation — he never questioned that he might wish to do anything else.

Roger playing with the Orchestra, Andrew Litton conducting

The world and the BSO have changed immeasurably in the forty years. We take a trip down memory lane…


What was happening in the BSO as the world shifted into the 1980s?


1978– The new Poole Arts Centre opened in the town centre. This picture shows the Orchestra’s first rehearsal in their new home, under the baton of guest conductor Vernon Handley.

1979– HM the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh enjoy listening to the BSO rehearse at Poole Arts Centre (as part of their visit to Poole).

1981– The BSO set off from Hurn Airport, Bournemouth on a trip to Germany, Switzerland and Austria. This photo shows Mayor of Bournemouth Cllr Norman Day seeing the Orchestra off on their tour.

1981– Israeli conductor Uri Segal conducts the Orchestra. Uri Segal was Chief Conductor of the Orchestra from 1980-1982. Before joining the BSO, Segal served as an assistant to Leonard Bernstein with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

Congratulations and thank you to Jacoba and Roger for all their passion, hard work and dedication over the years – what an achievement!

BSO Members can look forward to interviews with Jacoba and Roger in their 40th anniversary year in the next issue of our member’s magazine, Quarternote. To find out about BSO membership click here.

If you’re interested in learning more about the BSO’s history you might like to purchase a copy of Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra: from 1893 to the World. Just ask at the programme desk when you next attend a BSO concert. Copies are available for £10.00