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Young and old celebrate music at Lismore Homecoming

Composer Mark Bromley and conductor, Richard Gill, outside the historic building that houses the Norther Rivers Conservatorium in Lismore.
Composer Mark Bromley and conductor, Richard Gill, outside the historic building that houses the Norther Rivers Conservatorium in Lismore. Mia Armitage

MUSICIANS from seven to 70 banded together on the weekend to celebrate three historic Lismore buildings with a tradition of serving education and the arts.

The Lismore City Libarary, the soon-to-be Regional Art Gallery and the Northern Rivers Conservatorium - which happened to be celebrating its Silver Jubilee at the same time - are all housed in buildings that originally belonged to the historic Lismore High School.

 

The street facade of the historic building that houses the Northern Rivers Conservatorium in Lismore.
The street facade of the historic building that houses the Northern Rivers Conservatorium in Lismore. Mia Armitage

Tom Avery, stage name Blakboi, wrote, sang and rapped a piece called Jingi Walla, a local Aboriginal greeting translated in English as "Hello and Welcome".

Blakboi said he grew up in northern NSW, finished his music diploma at NRC and was now a touring performer.

"It's an honour for my song to be orchestrated, especially by someone as as talented as Richard Gill," he said, referring to the conductor and Patron of Regional Conservatoria NSW, which is a body encompassing 18 different music colleges throughout the northern part of the state.

Mr Gill said he had been patron for "15 years or so" and it was his job "to bring all this together": a 15-song almost-an-hour-long opus covering an epic journey from Jingi Walla in the first part to Happy Birthday in the fourth and final part.

There were four different acts: an orchestra, jazz band, choir and a junior ensemble. Within these divisions were string quartets, percussion groups and a capella groups. Happy Birthday was to be sung twice.

NRC alumna Shelley Brown was the second and only other solo vocalist besides Blakboi. She wrote and sang We Will Sing in Part Two.

Composer and Arranger Mark Bromley said he simply "got Shelley on her phone with her mandolin" to record her contribution before he added music for The Youth Jazz Band to play at the Homecoming.

Bromley said he'd taught at NRC for about 15 years before writing Jubilee as a way of "celebrating music education".

Mr Gill said he and the musicians rehearsed for "two long days" in "a real spirit of co-operation".

He said they had "a sense of wasting elements" but the basic idea was "about preserving music and traditions and encouraging a love of music".

"The Northern Rivers Conservatorium is exemplary," he said.

"Farmers' kids can be musical.

"Every child should have the opportunity to participate in music."

 

Inside the historic building that houses the Northern RIvers Conservatorium some modern additions have been made in what would otherwise be darkened downstairs corridors.
Inside the historic building that houses the Northern RIvers Conservatorium some modern additions have been made in what would otherwise be darkened downstairs corridors. Mia Armitage

He said music education was "a new national problem" and that he had started a new National Music Teachers Program.

"Lismore is quite active in that area" he said.

"What is happening here tonight is a mould for all conservatoria because this is original music and it has the involvement of the youngest through to the oldest."

He said ages of musicians ranged from 7 to 70 and they came from near and far.



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