A Little Night Music Orchestra was founded by Derek MacDermot in 1972, beginning as a Vancouver School Board night school course (hence its name “A Little Night Music”). In the initial 20-session term there were 11 participants, with Derek playing the piano as well as conducting. The program was so popular that it attracted 45 musicians the following term.
After 17 years as a night school program at Kitsilano High School, Derek decided to operate A Little Night Music as a year-round community orchestra and on a completely volunteer basis. A Little Night Music moved to St. James Community Square and rehearsed there until September 1995, when it relocated to Holy Trinity Anglican Church Community Centre. The Orchestra returned to St. James Community Square, on a trial basis, for the summer 2003 term, and then moved back to Holy Trinity Anglican Church Community Centre in September 2003.
When Derek began A Little Night Music, he borrowed music from other orchestras. Over the years, he developed an extensive library of almost 300 selections of orchestral music, most of which he personally donated and much of which is irreplaceable as it is out of print. The music library is now named in honour of Derek, and all music is stamped “The Derek MacDermot Library, A Little Night Music Orchestra”.
Derek MacDermot’s vision for A Little Night Music was that it be an orchestra “for all comers”: there would be no auditions, players of all ages and abilities would be welcome, and it wouldn’t matter if there were three flutes and seven trombones. He envisioned A Little Night Music as a place where there would be “no hard words and no pressure”. The main goals of A Little Night Music were to be fun, improvement and playing for others in the community. The Orchestra has performed at various locations throughout Vancouver and has never charged for a concert.
In the summer of 2002 Derek retired as Conductor and Music Director of A Little Night Music and was succeeded by Peter Stigings. Chris Haas joined the orchestra as Associate Conductor.
In 2018, Peter Stigings retired and was replaced by Alana Chan.