THEY began, just the four of them, playing in Hexham Library, courtesy of their first conductor who at the same time was artistic director of the Queen’s Hall.

Tynedale Orchestra has come a long way in the 30 years since – its ranks are now 45 to 50 strong.

On the eve of this 30th anniversary, chairman and leader Colin Dickinson says: “It was all down to one person, Vivian Wrack – she’s moved now.

“She got four of us together, Di (Colin’s wife), me, Viv and Pamela Wilson, who was an original member of the Northern Sinfonia.”

So that was three violins and a viola, and conductor/pianist Graeme McKinnon.

They were quickly joined by three clarinets, two trombones and another clutch of strings, and then grew steadily from there.

Violinist and orchestra secretary Jane Hoyle said: “When I started, 10 to 12 years ago, there were only about 10 violins. There’s more than double that now.”

Colin noted that while the idea for a Tyne Valley orchestra got off the ground very quickly, numbers have fluctuated over the years. Sometimes the number of violins has dwindled to the point that there are as many cellos as violins.

“But we’ve always been able to put on our concerts twice a year, at the end of November and mid-March.” (They are on the look out for an oboe at the minute, he added.)

And their concerts are certainly worth the ticket price, for they are broadchurch and they’ve been known to ring the changes in their otherwise classical repertoire.

A special arrangement of Beatles tracks to mark the 50th anniversary of the Sergeant Pepper album proved popular that particular year, as did a special medley of Christmas carols written by an American composer.

They also tend to do at least one concerto each year.

The nature of the music they’ve played has tended to change in tandem with the size of the orchestra, said Jane. “The more brass we have, the more we can play the later symphonies.

“There was a lot of Haydn and Mozart in the early days, but now its more Brahms, Sibelius and Tchaikovsky.”

They had been the beneficiaries of a lot of good will over the years from professional musicians happy to drop in as soloists even at the last minute, and they had been lucky in their conductors. Mike Thorne, Percy Lovell and today Alex Lewis had each run up several years at the helm.

The orchestra had also been able to offer itself up as a platform for young musicians looking for their first public outings, and for young established musicians spreading their wings.

For their next concert, on the evening of Sunday March 24, at Corbridge Middle School, they had been lucky enough to land Making Music soloist Alexandra Lomeiko, one of the most notable violinists of her generation. She will be playing Brahms’ Violin Concerto amid a programme that also includes Beethoven’s Egmont Overture and Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 in G minor.

Tickets are available at the Queen’s Hall box office now.