STRIKING THE RIGHT CHORD: Mildura District Orchestra members Anne Bergamin, Robert Bull, Terry McGowan and Allan Zbierski are set to celebrate in style.

By JOHN DOOLEY

THE Mildura District Orchestra will mark its 10th birthday with a gala concert at the Mildura Arts Centre on Saturday, May 11.

The orchestra was originally launched at a performance with the Victorian Youth Orchestra in March 2009, at the old Mildura Arts Theatre – an event which was financed by Mildura Rural City Council. 

The Victorian Youth Orchestra was in Mildura to perform in ‘Opera by the Lock’, conducted by Benjamin Northery. There were approximately 20 members in the orchestra at that stage, and although things got off to a good start, unfortunately during 2011 the orchestra had a huge decline in members, and almost folded.

In February 2012, however, the orchestra reformed with Mr Bill Warren as conductor, and an orchestra committee was established, and since this time the orchestra has steadily improved in sound and membership.  

Mr Warren resigned as conductor during 2018, and the assistant conductor, Frann Sette, took over the role until the orchestra appointed a new Conductor, Jess Browne, this year.

Orchestra chairman, Terry McGowan, said the anniversary will be celebrated in style, with a not-to-be-missed concert being the highlight of the organisation’s milestone.

“It’s a big occasion for us, the Mildura District Orchestra was established 10 years ago, since then it has grown into a more than 30-member strong organisation,” he said.

“The orchestra takes part in a variety of concerts on a regular basis through the course of the year, and recently performed at the Lake Cullulleraine Music Festival, and is a regular fixture at the Mildura Eisteddfod, and we also have an annual concert that we stage in Wentworth, as well as a number of other community events.”

Mr McGowan said that people attending the concert will be in for a treat, with six musicians from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra coming to Mildura for the event, which will include percussion, pianist, violin and cello musicians.

“We’ll be playing a mixture of old-time music, right up to some popular contemporary favourites, including the theme to Star Wars and other great scores – there’ll be something for everyone to enjoy,” he said.

“The orchestra will perform for the majority of the concert assisted by Mildura District Brass Band, Mallee Strings and Sunraysia Community Choir.

“The orchestra’s instruments include violins, violas, flutes, clarinets, French horns, trumpets, trombone, percussion, double-bass and cornet and even a saxophone, which is technically not an orchestral instrument.

“When everyone joins us on stage at the end of the concert, there’ll probably be up to 90 musicians on stage, including the visiting musos, all of whom will take part in the grand finale.” 

Mr McGowan said the organisation was delighted to have secured the services of well-known local identity Bill Sauer, who will act as a Master of Ceremonies for the evening.

“Bill will bring his own personal touch to the night, and he has a lot of interesting information about the history of the orchestra, and through the course of the night, he will impart that knowledge to the audience,” he said. “I suggest people secure their tickets, because it promises to be a sell-out event.”

The concert commences at 7.30pm and concludes at 10pm. Ticket bookings may be made at Mildura Arts Centre or Mildura Visitor Information and Booking Centre.

Cost is $20 for adults and $15 for concession/students.