24 June 2023

Gerringong Music Club’s future in doubt after 20 years of hitting the right note

| Kellie O'Brien
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Anna da Silva Chen

Musicians like Anna da Silva Chen may be unable to perform for the Gerringong Music Club from next year if it’s unable to fill essential committee roles. Photo: Alise Black.

Gerringong Music Club may fold at the end of the year if it doesn’t find its next musical director and publicity officer.

The club, which started nearly 20 years ago, is on the hunt for those with a love of classical music to take up the essential committee roles after musical director Bobbie Miller and publicist Gillian Spooner are due to retire at the end of the year.

The positions are integral to the successful operation of the club, which boasts 80 financial members, up to half of which are regular visitors.

Bobbie said every year, apart from gaps during COVID, the club had hosted five or six classical concerts at the Gerringong Town Hall, showcasing young talent and professionals from the region.

“We’ve had good audiences and people have really enjoyed it, but we’ve got to the point where the committee now is mostly in their 80s,” she said.

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Gillian was looking to retire as the club’s publicist after having been in the role for many years.

“We’re really concerned that we can’t keep going on saying ‘OK, I’ll do it’,” Bobbie said.

The club was started by Gem Buck, who originally came to Gerringong to retire.

“She was a musician and she felt there was a great lack of classical music in Gerringong,” she said.

“She got together with a group of ladies who raised funds, first of all to buy a piano for the Gerringong Town Hall, and then she got a committee together and started arranging concerts.

“Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the first concert.

“I was on that original committee – I’ve been involved throughout its time.

“She was nearing 80 and she became unwell, so I took over as music director.

“She was the one who was the inspiration for starting it all.”

Bobbie said the candidates for the new roles would need to have a love of classical music, be interested in working with musicians, forming programs and networking with different people and organisations.

The publicist would also need to have the ability to write press releases, make posters and use social media to promote the club’s concerts.

The club attracts a mixture of larger groups, like the BlueScope Youth Orchestra from the Wollongong Conservatorium of Music in May, through to soloists, like Wollongong violinist Anna da Silva Chen who will perform in July.

BlueScope Youth Orchestra

BlueScope Youth Orchestra performed for the Gerringong Music Club earlier this year. Photo: Supplied.

While it’s mostly focused on classical music, it has also featured jazz and Latin American concerts.

“If someone was interested in one of the roles, they could come to that (Anna da Silva Chen) concert on Sunday 16 July and see what we do and talk to us,” she said.

Bobbie has offered to coach the new music director in all aspects of the voluntary position.

She said while originally the Gerringong Music Club focused on providing quality music for the Gerringong community, it now attracted audiences from Nowra to Wollongong wanting to hear the calibre of talent they were able to attract.

“People want to hear musicians like Anna da Silva Chen, because she’s really made a name for herself in Australia and overseas,” she said.

“We love encouraging young performers.”

While audiences tended to be older, she said they loved to encourage young people to get along and experience classical music live.

Remaining concerts planned for the year are Anna da Silva Chen and Lee Chen on 16 July, the trio Zefiro on 17 September, and Daniel Rojas and Stephen Cuttris on 19 November. Concerts are held at the Gerringong Town Hall.

To learn more about the voluntary roles or to apply, contact Bobbie Miller on 0413 967 385.

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