Founded: 1987, as National Symphony Orchestra
Re-named: 1991, as Transvaal Philharmonic Orchestra - Pretoria, South Africa
Re-named: 1997, as New Arts Philharmonic Orchestra of Pretoria
Closed: June 2000
The National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) was formed in 1953. This was achieved by combining the three already existing studio orchestras of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). The Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal (PACT) was formed in 1963 and was eventually based at the State Theatre, Pretoria. The orchestra was founded by Professor Leo Quayle and started to operate in 1965 under PACT’s jurisdiction.
In 1987 the SABC announced that the financial responsibility of a full-time, permanent orchestra was too great and, to help with the cost, the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) was combined with the Transvaal Philharmonic Orchestra under PACT management. It became one very big orchestra, still under NSO emblem, able to service Pretoria’s audiences as well as Johannesburg’s; the two entities were separated into and called The Red and The Blue orchestras. However, the merger proved to be non-sustainable and a split followed in 1991. The NSO was relaunched in 1991 with Richard Cock as artistic director at its helm and was a part of the South African Broadcasting Corporation until 1997.
After the split in 1991 the orchestra that remained under PACT’s control was named the Transvaal Philharmonic Orchestra (TPO). In 1997 the orchestra was again renamed, this time to the New Arts Philharmonic Orchestra of Pretoria (NAPOP) but remained under PACT’s umbrella with Maestro Gerard Korsten as Chief Conductor. In 1998 a probe was opened by the government into PACT’s finances and its Board was accused of serious maladministration, loss of public funds and corruption. The probe resulted in PACT being dissolved, closure of the State Theatre and retrenchment of all resident companies, including NAPOP. The orchestra officially closed in June 2000.