George Hawthorne Snr learned to play the flute when he was seven, first joining Ravenhill Amateur Flute Band but later played with Irvine Memorial and the Ulster Apprentice Boys band before throwing in his lot with Ravenhill Temperance Flute Band as a soloist, and in a very short time had advanced under the tuition of the late William Allen, who at that time conducted the Ravens and also the Royal Ulster Rifles band.
No one can allege that George learned his music by trial and error method. He studied harmony and theory for five years and was regarded as one of the most capable flute band conductor in the world.
George was not only a conductor, but arranger and composer. One of the most stimulating aspects of his musical make-up was that while he had a passion for flutes he realised their capabilities.
Accordion and Brass have also had his services on various occasions, contests etc., and Scotland had a great respect for his adjudications and friendly approach on all his visits.
This modest, unassuming maestro was associated with a host of bands since the early days, but his first love had always been Ravenhill Temperance who, under his baton won the world title no fever than nine times between 1949 and 1957.
Indeed George assisted various bands to win almost every championship grade and distinction, and what’s more, held the honour of conducting a world broadcast of massed bands – 100 flautists and has been on the air hundreds of time with various bands.
Further proof that George was a conductor beyond compare is the fact that Annalong (Fishermen’s) Band, after persuading him to give them the benefit of his musicianship won their section in the N.I.B.A. for five years.
George had yet another distinction, he was the first conductor of a flute band Ravenhill of course to feature a singer – Peggy Munro in a radio programme.
As an arranger, George set many of the test pieces for the championships and wrote several marches. One march was “Glenarm” named after Phil Reid, the then secretary of the Flute Band League.
Among the honoured positions he held in music were the President of the Northern Ireland Flute Band League and Vice-President of the North of Ireland Bands’ Association.
George Hawthorn Snr died in 1968, his son George Hawthorne Jnr took over the baton of the Ravens until the band sadly folded 10 years ago.