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Our History

From the Archives

Dorothy Hately MBE (1932-1996)

Supported and encouraged by Lady Aberdeen, Dorothy Hately founded NESMS in 1975 to give young people of musical promise in the North East the opportunity to experience tuition "not otherwise available to them within their existing framework of study", and with the help of the then Director of Education she secured part of the old Academy in Belmont Street for her first students.

Internationally renowned musicians such as Dennis Matthews, John Carol Case initially and later Raimund Herincx, Sofie-Christine Süssman, Ifor James and James Blades amongst others were "persuaded" by Dorothy to travel to Aberdeen on a regular basis to give talented students the benefits of their expertise and experience.

When the old Academy buildings and the surrounding land were sold by the local authority to a developer, NESMS had to find a new home.  Fortunately Dorothy was able to persuade the Methodist Church in Crown Terrace to provide a suitable venue until she was able to secure the grant from the Scottish Arts Council Lottery Fund which enabled NESMS to find a permanent home.

The new premises in Huntly Street were officially opened on 14th May 1998 and named in her memory as the Dorothy Hately Music Centre.  Sadly, Dorothy herself did not live to see that day, succumbing to cancer in 1996.  Her well-deserved MBE for services to music had been awarded earlier, in 1987.

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Voices from the Past...

Over four decades NESMS has established a reputation for quality teaching, and has attracted a wide range of fine musicians to Aberdeen including:  John Carol Case, Marjorie Blakeston, Neil MackieJohn Shirley Quirk, Sofie-Christine Süssmann, Raimund Herincx and Ruth Black (voice);  Donald Hawksworth (organ);  David Parkhouse and John Blakely (piano);   Peter Mountain and Hugh Bean (violin);  Eileen Croxford Parkhouse (cello);  Gilbert Biberian (guitar);  Paul Anderson (Scottish fiddle);  David Nicholson (flute);  Simon Milton and Anne Rankin (oboe);   Lawrence Gill and Alison Waller (clarinet);   Martin Gatt and Janet Bloxwich (bassoon);  Ifor JamesLizzie Davis and Sue Baxendale (horn);  and James Blades (percussion).

Those who have given celebrity workshops or master classes include Emanuel Hurwitz (violin), David Mason (trumpet), Janet Craxton (oboe), Thea King (clarinet), Michael Arno (recorders), Ifor James (horn), Alan Lumsden (trombone) and Roy Howartt (piano)

Celebrating 40 years of NESMS

A civic reception to celebrate the 40th anniversary year of NESMS was held at the Aberdeen Town House on 22nd January 2015. Lord Provost George Adam hosted the evening's event and presented previous NESMS Chair, Barbara McFarlane with a framed woodcut of the Town Hall. This is now on display in the entrance hallway of 21 Huntly Street.  In his introductory speech, the Lord Provost praised the longevity of NESMS; a vital resource for Aberdeen and the North East musicians. Dr. Roger Williams responded on behalf of NESMS before the presentation of framed artwork.


Attended by many NESMS Friends, tutors, students and supporters, the event was the first of a series of events throughout the year to mark our 40th year. Other events included a piano festival, flute workshops and a commemorative booklet compiling NESMS memories and stories from past and present tutors, students and Friends.

photos by Norman Adams

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