28th May 2024

Margaret Cowen 1930-2024 Founding Member and Trustee of the English Chamber Orchestra

We are very sad to announce that Margaret (Maggie) Cowen passed away last week. Maggie was a founder member of the ECO playing in the orchestra’s first concert back in1960. She remained a pivotal part of the first violin team until her retirement in the early 2000’s.

During her time in the orchestra she enjoyed working closely with some of the greatest names in the music world. She was a naturally good judge of musical talent and she always looked forward, being keen to encourage new talent whether within the orchestra itself or from the podium.

The ECO has always had a wonderful unique ‘family feel’ to it, family and friends playing an important role. Indeed during Maggie’s time in the orchestra her surviving brother Robert was quite often brought in to drive the orchestra van on European tours (something he rather enjoyed happily!)

Maggie didn’t limit herself to just playing in the orchestra. Although the working schedule kept her very busy, she was a keen violin maker. Her ability to spot a fine stringed instrument in the right hands was another natural talent. Away from music she was an avid sailor and a very patient stalwart crew to Quintin Ballardie, her lifelong close friend and co-founder of the orchestra. Her lovely studio flat in Shepherd’s Bush was always shared by a faithful following of dogs who were particularly important to her. Her many friends will particularly remember Frodo we are sure.

After her well earned retirement she served as a trustee of the ECO Charitable Trust, a role she took very seriously. This vital branch of the organisation was formed to encourage young people to enjoy and take part in music, especially those in a position where it was not on offer within their school curriculum. Arts organisation have gone through some challenging times over the years, and even more so at present. It is enough to say that Maggie selflessly supported the ECO throughout, her contribution over the years being immeasurable. Music was her love, the ECO was her consummate love, her belief in the orchestra unwavering. She will be remembered with great fondness and gratitude.