Concert celebrates Canberra’s young musicians

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YMS cake, created by Leanne Goolagong

CANBERRA’s Young Music Society celebrated its 50th birthday yesterday (March 17) in a relaxed, community-friendly concert at Albert Hall. 

Guests were welcomed in music by drummers from the Drumming Circle, directed by Alexander Wanjura and the Canberra Burns Club Pipe Band, before a brass ensemble directed by Zach Raffan kicked off with a birthday fanfare.

On hand was founding mother Judith Clingan. She came up with the idea back in 1969 when, as a student, she “got bored” with the activities and persuaded those in charge to let her introduce music in the form of singing, with recorder and guitar playing too. Over a period and with the help of “wave after wave of lovely committees”, she attracted numbers of 100, then 200 and eventually more than 400.

Clingan went off to Hungary to study but returned from time to time, including a period as composer in residence when she created her children opera “Marco” about Marco Polo.

Clingan and her colourfully-dressed Early Music Ensemble, photo: Peter Hislop

The first offerings in the concert, hosted by “CityNews” music writer Ian McLean, were four tunes by Clingan and her colourfully-dressed Early Music Ensemble.

Current artistic director of the society, composer Stephen Leek, praising the “vision and dogged determination” of Clingan, told those present that the overall aim was to encourage young people in music and arts pathways.

Stephen Leek with patron Graham Abbott. Photo: Peter Hislop

Highlights were Cameron Pike’s rousing version of “Pipe Major”, William Gray’s “Farewell To The Glasgow Police” on bagpipes, pianist Maxim Summersby-Mitchell’s performance of “Nocturne Op 9” by Chopin, Kiri Sollis’s witty, unnerving piece for alarm clock and flute and Padma Newsome’s vocal salute to sarod player Ashok Roy, “I am the Water”.

The style turned to jazz, with Douglas Toyne on violin and Martin McGill on piano performing Kern’s “Autumn Leaves” and Kosma’s “All The Things You Are”. Then another abrupt change saw comic musician Jim Sharrock join YMS student Joseph Wilcock in a series of musical jokes.

Katherine Wilkinson on cello and Anna Johnstone on piano performed Saint Saens’ “The Swan”, before society president Joan Dunn introduced the YMS patron, music broadcaster Graham Abbott who had come from Adelaide.

The Boom Crash Drummers. Photo: Peter Hislop

“Music isn’t just about performing,” he said, as well as sparking the brain, “it creates not only good musicians but also good Australians”.

Sending the audience out for afternoon tea was the youthful band, “Take no prisoners” performing Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.

Holly Downes with the Wild Strings Ensemble. Photo: Peter Hislop

The second half of the program was no less diverse than the first, with a drum battle by the Boom Crash Drummers, a song medley by Rhys Cole, Faure’s “Pavane” by Summersby-Mitchell with flautist Angela Smith and clarinettist Mia Lane, then Burgmuller’s “Nocturne no 1” by Owen Elliott and Ethan McAlister both on guitar.

After another comic interlude by Jim Sharrock and Joseph Wilcock, Holly Downes’ Wild Strings Ensemble played “Lost In Fishponds” by Jon hunt

The finale was given by Christopher Lincoln Bogg the internationally respected tenor who had first performed with YMS in 1969, singing “Things I Like To Sing”.

The altogether eclectic afternoon concluded with the cake-cutting, music from the In Full Swing Band conducted by Beth Way, and dancing with the Jumptown Jammers.

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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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