The Hamilton Philharmonic Youth Orchestra exists today because of the work and dedication of its founder Glenn Mallory. A Lifelong Hamiltonian, Mallory got the idea to start a youth orchestra while teaching music at Aldershot High School where he headed the music department. Though local school boards had much more robust music education programs than they do today, Mallory saw many gaps and missed opportunities for young musicians. Already involved with the HPO and a friend of Lee Hepner, HPO’s conductor in the 1960s, Mallory was granted $600 from the orchestra’s board of directors to start a youth program.
Mallory, who passed away in 2017, took that $600 and ran with it. In a 2016 interview with the HPO he cited Hepner, former HPO Executive Director Betty Webster and former HPO musician and long-time patron Samuel Taylor as essential figures in getting the organization started.
“In music, there are more important things than playing the right note,” Mallory said in a 2016 interview. His philosophies for the HPYO were grounded in the wellbeing of the musicians and fostering a genuine love and respect for music.
In 42 years as Music Director, Mallory impacted the lives of countless young musicians, some of whom have experienced successful music careers. One of those musicians is Hamilton-based saxophone player and teacher Darcey Hepner. Darcey (son of former HPO Music Director Lee Hepner) played cello in the HPYO under Mallory before pursuing a successful career as a sax player and has performed with the HPO on several occasions. He continued his friendship with Mallory throughout his career and cites him as a “great inspiration.”
A highlight for many early HPYO musicians and an example of Mallory’s dedication to music education is the orchestra’s 1971 trip to Moosonee and Moose Factory in Northern Ontario. The remote areas near James Bay are largely populated by Cree First Nations and, at the time, had limited access to live music and orchestra instruments. 53 young musicians made the long trip on bus, train and snowmobile with Mallory to bring their music to an underserved audience. Mallory was dedicated to spreading live orchestra music and to providing HPYO members with enriching cultural experiences that they were not getting elsewhere.
Mallory served as Music Director of the HPYO until 2006 when he retired and passed on the baton. His legacy continues to impact young musicians across the region. Mallory counted himself deeply fortunate in his career. “I was able to spend my professional life and my advocational life, doing what I wanted to. I used to wake up every day excited to go to work.”