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Margaret Frogson - Lady Hilary Groves Prize

Lady Hilary Groves Prize 2006 is awarded to Margaret Frogson


Through her vision and tireless dedication, Margaret Frogson has made a significant and lasting difference to the musical life of Nottinghamshire and the East Midlands.  She has achieved this largely through the success of the musical society Nottingham Symphonic Winds, which is about to enter its twentieth year; and also through support and encouragement she has given to aspiring musicians, especially young musicians, in the community.  Her personal warmth and care for those she has contact with has contributed greatly to the lives and aspirations of many musicians and their families in the region.


Co-founder and manager of Nottingham Symphonic Winds


The musical society Nottingham Symphonic Winds comprises two groups:


  1. Nottingham Symphonic Wind Orchestra – established as one of the leading groups in the country, performing and winning awards at national level.
  2. NottinghamWind Ensemble – a training group, which provides playing opportunities for those not able or wishing to participate in the main group.

    Formed in 1987, the number of players who have participated as past or present members now exceeds 500.  A number have been members since the beginning. Margaret continues to manage both groups, who meet weekly for rehearsal and perform regularly.


Her management role includes:

·         Appointment of conductors

·         Chairing the planning team

·         Organising and attending weekly rehearsals for two groups (~100 people)

·         Scheduling and planning concerts

·         Identifying, booking and liasing with venues

·         Ensuring publicity and marketing materials are developed and distributed

·         Maintaining a mailing list of supporters

·         Recruiting new members

·         Planning and organising tours

·         Dealing with issues as they arise

Whilst by their very nature, community groups rely on contributions from many sources and individuals, Margaret has been the single biggest driving force the society’s achievements, which include:

  • The development of NSWO to become a leading group in UK, winning a gold award at national level, participating in BASBWE festivals. 
  • Staging more than 300 concerts, including 44 outside the UK
  • Running 9 overseas tours – France (x2), Germany (x2), Ireland, Austria, Majorca, Holland, Czech Republic.
  • Raising £50,000 for local and national charities
  • Recording three CDs
  • Establishment of a series of educational childrens’ concerts (the “Kidsophonic” concerts) in 1997, which continue to the present day, supported by hundreds of children and their families each year.

    "The group of musicians were fantastic...Mr Conductor was brilliant with the children - both children and adults were involved.  It was the best Saturday morning I've enjoyed in a long time!"  Parent attending a specially arranged Kidsophonic Concert in Grantham, 2006


  • Establishing links with leading composers, who have visited Nottingham to work with the group – Joseph Horovitz, Guy Woolfenden, Philip Sparke.
  • Providing important development opportunities for many budding musicians who have gone on to pursue music as a profession – it is estimated that more than 30 professional players would count their time with NSW as key in their development.
  • Establishing an extensive library of music, owned by the group, of 490 titles
  • With partner David Oldershaw, in their capacity as group sponsors (Windblowers Music Shop), Margaret has made a financial contribution of more than £100,000 to the society.
  • She has also attracted other funding (including Lottery) of >£90,000
  • Margaret has contributed an estimated 10,000 hours of unpaid management time since the group’s inception, to ensure the society’s smooth running and continued success.


"Margaret's official job title is secretary, which clearly does not do her role justice. She is multi talented. One minute she is your PA, the next your mother and she is always a good friend. The time, effort and massive amount of energy and love she puts into the organisation is outstanding. In short she is the heart and soul of Nottingham Symphonic Winds."  Kate Brown, band member since 1999


Sponsoring and nurturing local talent


Margaret dedicates herself to nurturing local talent, and has encouraged and supported many young musicians, from school children choosing their first instrument, to young professionals seeking to launch their careers.  The individuals are too numerous to mention (they number in their thousands) but to highlight a few examples:


  • Sponsoring the Nottingham Young Musician competition, and many other local educational events at schools and colleges
  • Educational school visits to encourage uptake of instruments, and liaison with schools on their musical events.
  • Sponsoring and supporting other local groups – e.g Mistral Saxophone Quartet, Equinox Saxophone Ensemble, enabling them to commission and perform new work.
  • Sponsoring new initiatives such as the Nottingham Saxophone Day for past two years, to enable saxophone professionals of international standing to coach saxophone players of Grade 5+ in performance and ensemble playing.
  • Provided personal sponsorship for talented individuals seeking to establish solo careers.  There are many examples, of which two notable ones are:
    • Alistair Parnell – saxophonist, pianist, teacher, conductor and adjudicator.  Margaret supported Alistair at the start of his playing career, by providing practical help and encouragement, and through Windblowers provided an instrument, enabling him to reach the Woodwind Final of the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 1984.  Alistair subsequently studied at the Royal College of Music and has established a very successful musical career, throughout which Margaret has continued to provide support in the form of playing opportunities, conducting roles and financial support for new ventures, and, as always, advice and encouragement. 

      Matthew Billing – who, as a very young clarinettist, was a member of Nottingham Symphonic Winds, eventually leader of NSWO for several years.  Windblowers provided Matthew with a clarinet suitable for professional use and, after studying at the Royal Academy, Matthew is now a solo performer and principal clarinet with RTE National Symphony Orchestra in Ireland.  Matthew returns to Nottingham regularly and has performed as soloist with NSWO.

Margaret has continued to support and encourage me at every level and in every way for as long as I can remember – it is hard to imagine how my career would have developed without her…” Alistair Parnell (for career details and biography see

Pastoral role within the local musical community


In her capacity as local businesswoman, Margaret would count herself fortunate to be able to offer her time and financial support where it really counts.


However, for those that have contact with her, it is for less tangible qualities that she is really valued.  A formidably capable organiser, she has great attention to detail and never fails to follow up enquiries, return calls, write letters of thanks and attend to the vital matters which ensure the day to day running of a successful society. 


This efficiency does not begin to convey her great personal warmth, and her ability to cultivate the feeling of an ‘extended family’ that so permeates all her dealings with people.  She is able to uphold standards and maintain discipline, whilst being a figure of care and support for many people.  This often extends beyond the direct business of music making to more personal issues – she has quietly helped many society members through times of great personal difficulty, and does so discreetly and without drama.  She is someone to turn to for advice, and is unfailingly generous with her time and her concern.

"Margaret is the life and soul of the Nottingham Symphonic Wind Orchestra. She is the founder of the group, the driving force behind its success and growth, and the reason top quality musicians continue to turn up to rehearsals every Sunday morning. With her ever-determined business mindset, Margaret runs the group efficiently and with never failing precision, and with her personality she is a constant friend and fun person to be with. NSWO would be a mere shadow of what it is now, and what it will be, if Margaret Frogson were not at its head!  I will always be grateful for the experience and enjoyment gained through my time with Nottingham Symphonic Winds.” Michelle Phillips, past member of NSWO (1995-2005), now member of the National Saxophone Choir of Great Britain and the Equinox Octet.



The Nottingham Symphonic Wind Orchestra has Margaret Frogson. She is everything an organisation like that needs. She is motivated, intelligent, strong willed, enthusiastic, passionate and has a terrific personality. She is the epitome of the type of person needed…[to run a group of this kind].”  Keiron Anderson, conductor of Yorkshire Wind Orchestra, National Saxophone Choir of Great Britain, Harlequin Brass, Phoenix Concert Band, Leeds College of Music Wind Ensemble, National Youth Wind Ensemble of Scotland, and appointed conductor of NSWO in January 2006.

















Player Vacancies
If you are a woodwind, brass or percussion player we are always interested to hear from you.
NSWO - We are currently looking for  Percussion.
NWE - We are currently looking for players in all sections for the new term.