In the beginning…

Taken from the first Chuchlands Community Orchestra Newsletter

It was really David O’Neill who started it, when he was on our music staff and master of the music at the cathedral. The then Churchlands College was trying to develop a range of community programmes and he felt that a choir would be very acceptable. I said that if we had a chior we would also have an orchestra – and so we began.

The first announcement produced an odd assortment of instruments! The attendance at our first meeting was: David Eckersley, Flute; Roger Burden, oboe; Linda Dobelstein, Clarinet; Michael Watts, Trumpet; Len King, Euphonium; Elezibeth Vis and Arther Hartley, Violins – and apologies from Ron Palmer, who wasn’t free that first night.

Before the end of May we had added Nadine Perrin, violin; Rupert Sherwood, flute; Eleanor Clenshaw, Horn and Nan Dean, Clarinet; Caroline Gepp, Cello and Dennis Lawrence, violin, joined in june and then things began to snowball… We had an Open Rehearsal in October and played our first concert on November 30th, in a joint effort with the Choral Society. Records show twenty players – three flutes, oboe, two clarinets, two horns, trumpet, euphonium, percussion, eight violins and a cello. We played Handel’s March from the Overture to the Occasional Oratoria, the Ballet Parisien suite by Offenbach and Mozart’s a Sleigh Ride.

The tradition of an end of year concert has been maintained, the last four having become al-fresco picnic affairs, though we were once rained off. Fortunes have fluctuated since then, but we have played some 30 concerts in a variety of places and to a wide range of audiences, including a great day trip to York. We have raised several hundreds of dollars for charity and welcomed a great number of players for longer or shorter periods as members. We have rejoiced a marriage or two and welcomed three or four babies, some of whom made very early attendances at rehearsals!

We are fortunate in that when Music Makers had to close, their committee passed on their assets to us – we were especially grateful for the timpani, glockenspiel, music and stands together with a useful cash float and several good and welcome players.

Churchlands College was very supportive at first but after the amalgamation on the W.A.C.A.E. and the general tightening of budgets we have had to become more autonomous and in 1987 we went through the process of becoming incorporated, a status achieved on the 6th of November that year. The steering committee remained as the 1988 committee and we had a formal constitution.

At this years AGM Michael Small retained the office of President, a position in which he has been able effectively to further our interests on a number of occasions, but there were other changes. Elliot Brill, who was our very efficient Treasurer for the incorporation and first financial year has given place to Leila Ryall, and Sue Eaton, our most helpful and hard-working Librarian, who quietly and effectively attacked a pile of music and reduced it to order, has been replaced by a consortium of librarians.

In the matter of music – rarely enough copies and almost always requiring transpositions and additional parts, since composers and publishers didn’t have our group in mind – we must pay special tribute to the constant helpfullness and support of the Central Music Library, right from the days when music selection was an acrobat’s delight in the cramped quarters of the old library building to their service now in the new Alexandra Library. They have really become our friends. The UWA music librarian has also helped with music on many occasions.

I can only marvel at the way in which we have grown, and the friends that we have made, during these eight years of monday nights.

Music, indeed, hath charms.

Geoff Peel.