Incorporation # A0033982N

A History of the Surrey Hills Orchestra

A small group of amateur musicians who wanted to learn the skills of ensemble playing began rehearsing at the Victorian Music Library at Camberwell High School under the leadership of Lieta Legge (Jane Badger's violin teacher).  Players were beginner adults. Some early players were Jane Badger (1981), Sally Duggan (1982), Linnell Barelli (oboe; dec. 2012), Therese Wright (cello), Ron Lee (violin; dec. 2012), Joan Davidson (clarinet), and Meryl Laity. Rehearsals started with scales and various exercises before playing very basic music.

In 1983 the Whitehorse Council built the Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre in Union Road, Surrey Hills. As Jane Badger put it "They built it just for us, so we moved in!" The musical group was then named the Surrey Hills Training Orchestra. It was a small string and wind ensemble of ten to fifteen players. After Lieta Legge, conductors were John Wanner, Mark Dunbar, and Jenny Turner. 

The orchestra grew to fifteen regular players, and Towards the end of 1994, Greg Oates, a music teacher at Xavier College, became the conductor. He was very encouraging. The orchestra ougrew Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre. The 'training orchestra' merged with the orchestra of the Box Hill College of Music, and rehearsed adjacent to the Box Hill Town Hall. Kis and Dean were part of this group. This represented a quantum leap in size and musical standard. The orchestra performed two concerts in 1995 under the direction of Greg Oates. 

In 1996 the rehearsal venue moved to the Hall of St Augustine's Anglican Church Mont Albert North. Jeanette Kearns, the wife of the minister of St Augustine's, was a musician and singing teacher. She was very supportive, and so the orchestra found a new home and a welcoming community with a strong musical tradition. 

The rehearsal venue changed to the church at Holy Trinty Surrey Hills - about 20 plyaers

In November 2000 Marie-Louise Wright (Mary) was appointed as Conductor for 2001. Born in Graz, Austria, Mary studied violin at Melbourne University, as well as conducting. She had previously conducted a number of orchestras and string ensembles. Since Mary's appointment the quality of the concerts has increased markedly, due to her skill in bringing the orchestra to performance standard. There are now between 40 and 50 players for each concert, and up to 4 performances are held each year. The Surrey Hills Orchestra is fortunate indeed to have such a qualified, experienced and delightful conductor as Marie-Louise Wright.


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