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MEETING AN OLDIE IS NOT SO PAINFUL. LINGER AND GIVE IT A GO
I invite you to visit also my literary blog: Journeys in Creative Writing where I post original fiction including short stories, poetry and 'Paternity', a full length mystery novel.
Do you remember the story I told back in October about a banana farmer who grew his own symphony orchestra over a period of 16 years?
Barry Singh is the conductor and founder of the Northern Rivers Symphony Orchestra in New South Wales, Australia. The orchestra exists solely on ticket sales at mainly local concerts in Tweed Heads, and it's always a tight squeeze to pay the musicians.
For sixteen years musicians from far flung towns in the Northern Rivers practised in small groups with rehearsals for the entire orchestra rare. Barry even took the big risk of hiring the concert hall in the Brisbane Arts Centre for a performanmce that cost $38,000 a couple of years ago, and ticket sales ran short, rocking the bank account. The orchestra faced extinction last year when a cheque for $18,000 bounced although it was supposed to pay for the orchestra's appearance at a festival in Byron Bay. The cheque failure neatly wiped out the nest egg the orchestra committee had been building as a buffer against hard times.
In October Barry decided to hold a benefit concert to save his orchestra's bacon.
Barry Singh - source NRSO
The big news: last night was the night of nights and the orchestra will live on. The Seagulls Rugby League Football Club auditorium was filled to the rafters with an audience of 1,400.
Donations of almost $10,000 came in from individuals and the tiny Palm Beach Rotary Club over the border in Queensland gave $10,000. Sales of CDs ran hot.
The orchestra's performance was probably the best ever and it was supported by performances of artists from the Queensland Opera Company, plus ballet and ballroom dancers. Everyone gave their services gratis. It was a night to remember!
Barry told the excited audience that their support demonstrated how the community felt about its orchestra. The show had been booked out in three days and plans were now being laid for another concert in March, with 300 tickets already sold. The group's future was assured for many months ahead.
The audience, determined to save their orchestra, also well and truly got their money's worth.
The programme went for almost four hours. It included music for a wide range of tastes, from John Williams' score for the film Raiders of the Lost Ark to the first movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 5. Soloists Liza Beamish and Kathleen-Proctor-Moore were a crowd favourite with the Flower Duet from Lakme as, inevitably, was Nessun Dorma sung by Andrew Pryor.Tchaikovsky's Capriccio Italien brought the evening to a crashing conclusion.
To my mind the orchestra has never played better.
Barry Singh himself has quite a story. The conductor/banana farmer studied at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music but had to leave the course when his father died and Barry returned to help his mother on the family farm.
As a youngster he had studied music at school and practised in the farm's packing shed against the wishes of his father, who was often violent towards him and his mother. His study in Queensland followed when he won a scholarship.
The North Coast's generosity to the NRSO echoes the nation's huge support for the Victorian bush fire victims, in the same week. I reckon we're a pretty caring country nowadays.
Do you have a community orchestra in your home town? How does it survive?
Currumbin Waters, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
I'm past my 70th birthday and undaunted.
So far I can look back on probably a dozen different phases in my life, all producing deeply felt experience:
- A barefoot carefree childhood in an Australian seaside town
- Work as a young journalist in the days of hot metal and male chauvinism
- Dipping my toe into real life in Sydney the big city
- Marriage and precious motherhood
- A second career in corporate public relations management
- Another marriage and disillusion
- Battles for financial justice in the law courts
- Re-jigging a career
- At 60 my first university degree (Creative Writing and Australian History majors)
- Fighting sometimes lost causes
- Sneaky aches and pains of the approach of age
- Living on a pension.
All fodder for writing and a valuable background for the development of what could become one day an incisive point of view.
My blogs may become a way of answering the question: 'What's next?'