President's Report 2 1013

Letter from the President:

Welcome to the second Wagner Quarterly for 2013 (Quarterly No 2 (129)

This, of course, is the biggest Wagner year in recent times, being the bicentenary of the Master's birth. It is being celebrated the world over. Indeed, I am currently in Milan for the Barenboim/Cassiers Ring, and the place seems to be full of members of the NSW Wagner Society.

Our own Sydney celebrations went extremely well. On the early evening of 22 May many of us converged on the Sydney Conservatorium of Music for the opening of the wagnerlicht Exhibition, a spectacular series of installations which will later be travelling to Europe. [Details of the exhibition are set out later in this newsletter]. Then we wandered down Macquarie Street to the Royal Automobile Club where ninety of us enjoyed a delicious dinner. We were entertained by the soprano Emily Edmonds, with Bradley Gilchrist as accompanist, who sang songs by Schubert, Berg, and - of course - Wagner [see below for details]. Then her Excellency the Governor, who was our guest of honour, cut the birthday cake and we all sang happy birthday to Richard. I have no doubt that the Master would have been delighted at the celebrations of his birthday in a country so far from the Germany of his birth.


wagnerlicht Exhibition

Four days later, on 26th May, we held our Annual General Meeting at the Goethe Institute. The President's report was received, as were the Society's financial statements. These show the Society to be in a very healthy state at the moment. There were a few changes to the office bearers and committee members, as set out later in this newsletter. Both Roger Cruickshank and Terence Watson had decided not to stand for re-election. Both, however, have agreed to continue their important work for the Society: Roger in the capacity of consultant, and Terence as editor of the Wagner Quarterly. Roger was President of the Society for many years, and he has much of our history in his very wise head. Terence was Vice-President, and has been Editor of the Society's newsletter for a long time now. We owe both of them an enormous debt of gratitude.

The one matter of significant discussion at the meeting related to the new logo. Some members expressed disappointment that we were no longer using the original swan logo, which was devised with great ingenuity many years ago. It was agreed that we would include a history of the original logo in our newsletter. [This will be included in the next Quarterly.] Since then the committee members have been discussing this matter, and have decided upon the following compromise. From now on we will include a regular column in each newsletter, headed by the swan logo, which will be devoted to the history of the Society, and which will either include a segment from much earlier newsletters (e.g. from the 80s) or will include reflections from the past contributed by our long term members. We very much hope that this idea finds favour amongst you, the Society members. We welcome any comments or suggestions you might have.

A final matter which bears mention relates to the annual meeting of the Wagner Verband (the International association of Wagner Societies) which took place in Leipzig on 20th May. The NSW Society was represented at the meeting by our Treasurer, Dennis Mather. One of the problems relating to the Verband is that it has always been rather German-centred. Under its Constitution, a member society could only vote through having its own delegate present at the meeting and casting a vote. There was no provision for proxy votes. This particularly discriminated against the more distant societies, which had great difficulty in sending delegates to Verband meetings. This in turn goes a long way to explaining the German-centric nature of the Association. Indeed a number of Wagner Societies had announced their intention of leaving the Verband. The good news is that Dennis, with the assistance of a few of the other delegates who were present at the May meeting, and ultimately with the support of the President of the Verband, had the Constitution amended so that in the future proxy votes will be permitted at Verband meetings. This will give the more distant societies a much greater voice in the affairs of the Association.

I hope that our members are enjoying the various events that we are mounting for this highly significant year.

Jane Mathews

The Hon Jane Mathews AO
President Wagner Society in New South Wales