President’s Report to 2017/2018 Annual General Meeting

It seems no time since our last AGM which was held exactly 12 months ago. We have had a very busy and successful twelve months.

The orchestra continues to grow in strength. We constantly seek recognition as an important part of the Townsville Community and we need to keep building on the high profile role. We have achieved recognition over the last few years from our co-operation and partnering with other arts groups in the city.

The Management Committee continues to monitor just how much we can actually do each year without over stretching our musical capacity. All our players have either work or study commitments and this is their time to indulge their passion for playing good music. We greatly value the huge contribution our musicians make and we thank them most sincerely. This means we basically need to commit ourselves to three major concerts each year and our participation in the Families Queens Park Concert in conjunction with the Australian Festival of Chamber Music.

Last year the Concert in Queens Gardens again had an audience of over 4,000 families, both local and visitors who had a delightful afternoon picnicking on the grass and enjoying great music. One of the highlights of the afternoon was the presentation of the Keys of the City to the Festival Director Piers Lane who was completing his final festival. As well as their own pieces, Strauss, Rossini and Grainger, the orchestra accompanied visiting Horn player, Martin Owen and vocalists, Cheryl Barker and Peter Coleman-Wright. A great highlight of the afternoon was the orchestra playing the Spirit of Nunawading, composed and conducted by Glenn Rogers who was Music Director of the Army Band here in Townsville. The concert again concluded with the 1812 Overture using keys and paper bags instead of cannons.

Our August concert saw a late change of Conductor when Mark Shiell developed a shoulder injury and was replaced by Gyula Cseszko known as Jules, a friend and another student of the Late Professor John Hopkins, Jules was a great hit with the orchestra and in one concert developed a great relationship with the audience. The concert was simply Beethoven.  The concert featured Violinist, James Dong, the winner of the Australian Concerto and Vocal Competition Instrumental Section in 2017 playing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major, OP 61. The orchestra in the first half played Beethoven’s Egmont Overture and his Symphony, No 7.

For our final concert of the year we had Mark Shiell back with us to conduct Evening Serenade, a very special concert featuring the Queensland Premiere of Australian Composer Elena Kats-Chernin’s recent work, Night and Now, which was composed specially for Newcastle flautist, Sally Walker. We were delighted to have Sally as Soloist and Elena here to introduce the work. Sally was thrilled to play with a community orchestra and found the mix of young and older players very stimulating. The orchestra really rose to the occasion and also played music from Greig, Ravel and Khachaturian. The concert featured Brisbane soprano, Cassandra Wright who was the winner of the Australian Concerto and Vocal Competition, Open Vocal Section in 2016. Amongst our players we had something of a record with seven players from two families in the orchestra, four Adcock and three Doherty young ladies. We might have added an extra Adcock had it not been for a sports carnival.

After this concert, families, friends and the orchestra enjoyed an early Christmas celebration where we presented our Annual Encouragement Awards to two of our dedicated young players, Aidan Fitzgerald (Viola) and Annie Doherty, Horn)

Our 2018 Season Launch was held at the Pier Restaurant on Sunday, 18h February. We welcomed Mayor Jenny Hill, and in the absence of our Patron who had a function in Cairns we invited the new Director of the 1RAR Band, Major Matt Chilmaid to open the season. Unfortunately at the last minute Councillor Colleen Doyle, had to be an apology.

In her speech Mayor Jenny stressed the importance of our community orchestra in the Townsville cultural scene and spoke glowingly about the important role of the Arts in Townsville.

2018 is providing new challenges with the Civic Theatre under renovation until mid-year and then facing a backlog of shows. This has meant that we have had to seek out new performance venues.

Our March Concert, English Landscapes was held at Riverway Arts Centre where, because of the venue capacity we performed two concerts, one at 4.30pm and one at 7.30pm. Raymond Yong returned to Townsville as our Conductor and the audience enjoyed a concert of popular English Music from the early 20th Century by composers such as Walton, Grainger and Elgar. Items ranged from the majestic Crown Imperial March to Arthur Wilkinson’s Beatlecracker Suite where selected orchestra members sang and the audience joined in. These concerts proved very popular with the audience.

We have had a short break since our last concert but our August Concert, Sacred and Secular is now underway. Unfortunately we have had to change the date of this concert which will now be two concerts on Saturday, 18th at St James Cathedral in Townsville. We are most grateful to Dean Rod McDonald for the enthusiasm and co-operation he is giving in sharing this wonderful venue with us. This concert will feature the magnificent Cathedral organ in the hands of Justin Ankus. We have already had our Conductor, Lt. Colonel Craig Johnson here this week to do initial rehearsals with the orchestra. Craig is the Head of Army Music in Australia and conducted for us for BRO goes to the Opera in 2016.

We were again successful with a grant application to the Breakwater Trust and have now added a Tuba and a Trombone to our instrument collection.

We were delighted to welcome Neil Renison as our Treasurer in 2017.Neil embarked on a steep learning curve and has mastered the role with great aplomb. We would sincerely like to thank Linda Taylor from Sturt Business Centre for the support that she has given to Neil and the committee.

In closing, I must sincerely thank all the members of the committee for the wonderful job they have done over the past year. There is a lot of behind the scenes work to keep our orchestra going and they all give of their time very generously. And what can I say about our wonderful Orchestra Manager, Sally Frewen-Lord? She is a truly a wonder woman. Sally has been based in Brisbane since early December helping to look after her gorgeous twin grand-daughters and from there she has managed to run the orchestra without missing a beat. I think our Concert Master, Stephen and Monika Ward have had some extra duties up here. And of course I must thank all our players who give their time around school, study, work and family life. We could not exist without you.

Judy Hunter, President, 27 May, 2018