Douglas Dawn was Belfast’s first Music Adviser, inaugurating in 1955 the City of Belfast Youth Orchestra whose earliest players included the young James Galway. It was not until a year after the appointment of Leonard Pugh as Music Adviser in 1964 that the City of Belfast School of Music was opened in Donegall Pass.
Robin Hewitt, who had been a member of staff from the opening of the school retired as Principal Tutor in 2002 and was succeeded by Dr Joe McKee as the newly designated Head of the BELB Music Service until his retirement in December 2010. Mrs Rowena Eames who was Head of the Class Music Support team was appointed as Acting Head of the School of Music in 2011, Mrs Eames retired from the post in August 2015. Miss Therese McKinney who is Head of Strings/Harp was appointed as Acting Head of the School of Music in January 2016,she continues to very much enjoy working in this position
Initially there were three full-time teachers and some thirty part-time tutors whose aim was to provide high quality music teaching in schools, as well as providing advanced individual instrumental tuition in the evening Music Centre.
From modest beginnings the School of Music has expanded to the extent that there are now 12 full-time teachers, with administrative and library support, and one hundred and sixty part-time tutors. Upwards of three thousand young people from all parts of the city are involved in the work of the School of Music and the Education Authority Music Service each week.
The profile of music in schools has grown beyond even the most ambitious dreams of the earliest staff and the CBSM can look with immense satisfaction at hundreds of individuals involved in the music profession, the most celebrated being Sir James Galway, Professor David Strange, Kenneth Montgomery, Angela Feeney, Barry Douglas, Kevin Mallon, Peter Corry and Katie Melua. In 2005 the School of Music celebrated its 40th anniversary with a splendid Gala Concert in the Waterfront Hall with Sir James Galway, while the City of Belfast Youth Orchestra has been training young players and providing public concerts at home and abroad for over 50 years
Front door, 99 Donegall Pass, by Marie O'Donoghue'