Former Lismore man awarded OAM

AFTER nearly 60 years of playing and conducting music and mentoring young musicians, former Lismore man John Allen has been rewarded for his efforts with the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).

Born in Tasmania in 1935, John Macdonald Allen joined a band at 16, but always had the urge to conduct as well as play.

“I first conducted in Launceston when I was 24, subsequently becoming conductor of the Launceston City Band and the Latrobe Federal Band,” Mr Allen, of Brisbane, said.

“In 1969 my wife and I travelled to Canada and the United States, where I studied and taught music.

“On our return to Australia in 1979 I lectured in music at the Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education (NRCAE) in Lismore, later Southern Cross University, and became the founding conductor of the Northern Rivers Concert Band, later the Lismore City Concert Band, which I led until my retirement in 1996.

“In 1988 we represented the city of Lismore at the Brisbane Expo, and I took over conductorship of the Lismore South Public School Band, staying until 1997.

“Many of those students continued playing in their high school groups and in the Lismore City Concert Band.”

Mr Allen has composed and arranged more than 50 works for brass and concert bands, which have been successfully performed by army bands in Brisbane, Sydney and Perth, the University of Columbia Concert Band in Canada, and locally.

He also voluntarily prepared and presented more than 500 programs of brass and concert band music on Lismore's 2NCR-FM.

For his local service to music Mr Allen was named Lismore's Australia Day Citizen of the Year in 1992, and was invited to carry the Olympic Torch through part of Lennox Head in 2000.

Last year Mr Allen was invested with the OAM by the Governor of Queensland, Penelope Wensley, in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

He said these three events have been the most significant events in his musical career.

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