President's Report December 2012

Letter from The President: December 2012

It has been a very full year for the Society, featuring many fascinating events. A major highlight was the afternoon with our patron, Simone Young, who spoke so openly and frankly about her life with music, and particularly with Wagner. And I am sure than everybody who attended our Christmas concert and party at the Mosman Art Gallery will agree that it was a triumph. Both Lisa Harper-Brown and Warwick Fyfe were in superb voice and accompanied splendidly by Louise Scott. The venue, with its large spaces and resonant acoustics, suited the occasion perfectly.

The Bayreuth saga continues. You will remember that we were told in January this year that, as a result of a decision of the Festival Administrative Board, no further tickets would be allocated to Wagner Societies in the future. There was a strong response from many societies around the world, including the Australian societies. Later in the year we were told that the Board was to meet again on 9 October, and that they were going to re-visit this decision. Accordingly, at the end of September we wrote another, very conciliatory letter, pleading for a return to the previous system. The New York Wagner Society wrote a similar letter. Not long afterwards, the New York Society received a letter, dated 10 October, from the Chairman of the Board, in the following terms: "I am happy to announce that the Administrative Board has decided yesterday, to correct earlier decisions regarding the tickets for your associations. More details you will get in the very near future." To my knowledge, there has been no further communication. My enquiries tell me that in spite of the positive terms of the letter, there was in fact a degree of dissension within the Board on this issue. So we will wait and see what happens. In the meantime, we received the same ticket application forms as in previous years, so we have applied for the usual number of tickets for the 2013 festival, namely 12 tickets from the box office and two from the Society of Friends. Members will be informed as soon as we learn of any further developments.

Your Society is getting a new image! Thanks to committee-member, Michael Day, a collaboration was arranged between the Society and design students at the University of Technology Sydney. As part of one of their projects, they have designed us a new logo. It is yet to be approved by the Committee, but - assuming that it is - all our communications from now on will be in the new format. It is a completely different look, clean and modern. We hope that you, our members, will enjoy this new design.

Next year, the big bi-centenary year, promises to be a huge year for all of us. In addition to a number of particularly exciting events at our regular Sunday meetings, we are involved in some fascinating initiatives. One of these is the Ring Symposium, to be conducted by Anthony Ernst on the weekend of 9 and 10 February. More details of this symposium are given elsewhere in this newsletter. It promises to be a truly informative and stimulating event. I know from personal experience that Anthony has an enormous depth of knowledge and understanding about all aspects of the Ring, and also has the communication skills to readily impart his knowledge to his audience. And I have just been told that Lyndon Terracini, the artistic director of Opera Australia, has agreed to open the symposium for us on the Saturday morning.

Another fascinating initiative is the Society's commissioning of a brand new opera called "Climbing Towards Midnight", composed by Sydney musician Jack Symonds. As Jack describes it, this has "the dna" of Wagner's music within it. It will be performed by the Sydney Chamber Opera in April next year at the National Institute of Dramatic Art. The opera is to be based on Act 11 of Parsifal, and explores the relationship between Parsifal and Kundry. Those of you who have seen any of the Sydney Chamber Opera's outstanding productions over the last two years will be looking forward to this event with huge anticipation. It is a real pleasure and privilege for us to be supporting these incredibly talented young musicians.

As many of you know, the Sydney Symphony Orchestra will be putting on a concert performance of The Flying Dutchman on 20 and 22 July next year. The previous Sunday (14th July) we will be holding a special seminar entitled "Riding the Waves -a voyage through Wagner's flying Dutchman". This will be an all day event to be held at the Goethe Institute. We hope to have Maestro David Robertson, the new chief conductor of the SSO to speak to us, as well as Eric Owens, who will be singing the title role. Many members will remember Eric Owens as a wonderful Alberich in the Metropolitan Opera's new Ring Cycle. Dr David Larkin, musicologist from the Sydney Conservatorium will be taking part, as will Dr David Schwartz, who will speak on historic interpretations of the Dutchman and Senta. Other notable speakers will be participating, as you will learn closer to the event.

Amongst numerous other initiatives are: our sponsorship of Fine Music 102.5, which will lead to the broadcast of all ten mature Wagner operas during the year; our support of the Sydney Youth Orchestra, which will be putting on a concert in August featuring Wagner's music; our grants to the Sydney Eisteddfod, leading to awards for the best singer of a Wagner song or aria, and the best singer of a German language song or aria; and our financial assistance towards a conference to take place between the second and third Melbourne Ring Cycles. So we are all looking forward to next year with huge anticipation.

I look forward to seeing you at these fascinating events.

Jane Mathews

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