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Bundaberg Youth Orchestra’s 50th anniversary

Bundaberg Youth Orchestra 50th anniversary
Starting in the Bundaberg Region in 1972, Bundaberg Youth Orchestra will celebrate its 50 anniversary with a concert at Shalom. Photo: Bundaberg Youth Orchestra in 1992

Bundaberg Youth Orchestra will celebrate its proud history which stretches across half a century at its special 50th anniversary reunion concert.

Starting in the Bundaberg Region in 1972, Bundaberg Youth Orchestra has provided quality educational music opportunities to young musicians, some of whom have gone on to perform internationally.

On Saturday 17 September the community is invited to attend the Bundaberg Youth Orchestra 50th anniversary reunion concert at Shalom College.

Bundaberg Youth Orchestra alumni Kate Hardisty said Bundaberg Youth Orchestra 1, and its guest performer, will entice the audience with a classical repertoire that members first encountered during their time in the local orchestra.

“Whether those who are joining us are professional musicians or if they haven't picked up an instrument in decades, we are looking forward to sharing their memories, of just what makes Bundaberg Youth Orchestra such a special part of our community, with our audience,” she said.

Recent past members include Liam O'Malley who is the associate principal trombone in the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra, Alex Morris who is principal bass clarinet in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and Ashley Carter who is associate principle trombone in the Queensland Symphony Orchestra.

Long-serving member Robert Rotar has been the backbone of Bundaberg Youth Orchestra for the past 31 years in his role as conductor. 

“His passion and love of music has been an inspiration to many,” Kate said.

“He has a wealth of knowledge which he continues to generously share – he is so humble he wouldn't like me to say, but I believe Robert is the reason many of us pursued careers in music.

Robert believes that every music student should have the opportunity provided by groups such as Bundaberg Youth Orchestra.

“Not every student who learns an instrument will be out to have a career as a musician, but they should have the option of playing music for the rest of their life,” Robert said. 

Fond memories of Bundaberg Youth Orchestra

Kate said the reunion had provoked many fond memories from the musical group, including some of her own.

Joining Bundaberg Youth Orchestra in 1991, Kate remembers the first moments as if they were yesterday.

“I can clearly remember sitting at the back as a very inexperienced violinist thinking ‘wow! I hope one day I can play in the first violin section’,” Kate said.

“I was in awe of the huge, resonant sounds and amazing talent around me – Wednesday afternoon fast became the highlight of my week.

“I continued to play in the orchestra until 1997, and yes, I did play first violin, and I also had the great pleasure and opportunity to be concertmaster from 1995-1997.

“BYO is more than an orchestra – it's a family and I am still in close contact with many of the members.”

In celebrating Bundaberg Youth Orchestra’s 50th anniversary Kate said her time with the group was filled with pride.

“I am so proud to say I was a member of BYO,” she said.

“It is one of the longest running youth orchestras in Australia which (is) something the community of Bundaberg should be very proud of.

“I have played in many concerts as a member of BYO, but the concert next Saturday will be particularly special.

“As adults we reflect on years gone by, and without a doubt my fondest teenage memories are BYO, the music was fantastic and there was a real sense of belonging.”

Kate Hardisty
Bundaberg Youth Orchestra alumni Kate Hardisty, has continued her passion for music with local group Bella Canna.
Photo: Bella Canna at a recent performance at Bundaberg Regional Art Gallery.

Kate said the Bundaberg Youth Orchestra 50th anniversary concert was the second of three main events to celebrate the milestone year.

“This concert will see the past (alumni) and present combine to perform a program of much-loved BYO favourites,” she said.

“The audience will be treated to a feast of music featuring all sections of the orchestra – powerful brass to heart wrenching strings.

“We are all very much looking forward to reconnecting through our love of music.

“The number of alumni players returning to Bundaberg to play in this concert is a testament to what a significant part BYO has played in many lives.”

Bundaberg Youth Orchestra’s reunion concert will be held Saturday 17 September at 7 pm at Shalom Performing Arts Complex. Tickets are available here.

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