President's Annual Report 2003

President's Annual Report for the financial year 1 April 2003 to 31 December 2003

Delivered to the Annual General Meeting to be held on 22 May 2004

Dear Members

I am pleased to present the 24th Annual Report of the Wagner Society in New South Wales Incorporated, for the nine months from 1 April 2003 to 31 December 2003.


Looking back at the Society's activities over that period, they included

In April, a talk on Parsifal by Antony Ernst, which produced a passionate response from Cecilia Segura which we published in our December Newsletter.

In May, our dinner to celebrate Richard Wagner's 190th birthday, with Bill Gillespie OAM, acknowledged as the father of the Australian Ring, as guest speaker

In June and July, two seminars organised in conjunction with the re-staged production of Die Meistersinger von Nà »rnberg at the Capitol Theatre, which marked Simone Young's farewell Wagner performances as musical director of Opera Australia. One seminar was organised jointly with the Art Gallery of New South Wales, with speakers Antony Ernst, art historian Arthur Lawrence, and Jungian Dr Sally Kester. The second seminar was a talk by Professor Heath Lees, president of the Wagner Society of New Zealand, at the State Library, which preceded a performance of Meistersinger attended by members of both the New Zealand and New South Wales Societies

In September, a master class by the renowned Wagnerian bass, Sir Donald McIntyre, which we sponsored jointly with the Conservatorium of Music. The students at the master class included Jessica Pratt and Opera Australia's Warwick Fyfe

In October, Dr Terence Watson's talk entitled "Wagner and Power - Part 2 - Gesellschaft und Gemeinschaft" (Society and Community)

In November, a function at the home of Mr Denis Condon, a passionate conservator of mechanical and player pianos and their rolls, at which we heard "live" performances by long-dead pianists which were more immediate and intimate than most recordings on LP or CD and in December, prior to our end-of-year party, a short film about two passionate people who pursued without compromise for over 50 years their dream of a private opera company - Sally and Anthony Amato.

We organised a theatre party for Edo de Waart's final Wagner performance with the Sydney Symphony, the Siegfried Idyll and a rapturous concert performance of the third Act of Die Walküre with Elizabeth Connell and Bruce Martin, and we pursued the strange story of the Richard Wagner Steinway, which appeared in the foyer of the Angel Place Recital Hall for a few days in late May, and then was gone.


The Honorary Treasurer's Report will show that our financial position is sound and that in addition to meeting all our normal costs we provided almost $17,000 in sponsorships over this nine month period.


We continue our good relations with the German Consulate, the Consul General, and with the Goethe Institut, and we thank their officers and staff for their continued help and support.

We are also pleased to continue to provide financial assistance to the Bayreuth Scholar, who is nominated to the German government each year by Opera Foundation Australia.

There are many people in the Society I wish to thank, and foremost among them special thanks go to the members of your Committee who work so hard on your behalf. To our two Vice Presidents, Barbara McNulty and Julian Block, our new Honorary Secretary Mary Haswell, our Honorary Treasurer Elle Rasink, who resigns at this AGM from this position to pursue her own dreams overseas, to Terence Watson, who is also the Editor of our Newsletter, to Sandy Dudgeon and to Dennis Mather.

Special thanks also to Shirley Robertson, who provides our afternoon teas; to John Studdert, our web master; to our faithfully Ravens, Camron Dyer and Richard Mason; and to Peter Nicholson, our Public Officer.


2003 saw the departures of Edo de Waart, chief conductor and artistic director of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and Simone Young, musical director of Opera Australia. Both championed Wagner's work in Sydney and beyond, and we are waiting to see whether their replacements, Messrs Gelmetti and Hickox (who takes up his post in 2005) will share their passion.


Lastly I would like to thank you, our members, especially those of you who come along and support our functions and other activities, including by coming to this AGM. Your continuing interest and encouragement as members of the Society is the reason we are here today. Thank you all.

Roger Cruickshank 22 May 2004