President's Reports 1987

May / December 1987


May 1987 (Annual Report)
Having separated the annual dinner from the Annual General Meeting last year for the first time, we will now keep that procedure into the forseeable future.

With incorporation of the Society last year and the added technical complexities involved, I think it is better to do this rather than have the problem of having to fit all the business into a given period of time, i.e. an hour prior to the dinner.

Last year's annual dinner was again held at the Southern Cross Hotel and, by all accounts, much enjoyed by those who attended. Problems arising from the buffet style of serving food have been discussed by the Committee, and this year's dinner at the Menzies Hotel will be sit-down service at the table affair.

Our guest of honour last year was the distinguished singer Ronald Dowd. Unfortunately we only received one aria by Wagner, but were regaled with a lengthy and amusing series of anecdotes and experiences by this much travelled artist.

Finding a suitable guest of honour is always a problem for the Committee as many we ask are happy to oblige but unavailable at the time.

On Sunday afternoon the 29th June, at the home of Maria Van Hove and David Parker in Forestville, the Committee organized a recital of songs by Wagner and Liszt. The function was reasonably well attended, but the numbers could have been better. When one takes into account the enormous amount of work which goes into the organizing, rehearsals, etc. it seems a little sad the response is so small.

Having purchased two superb sound speakers, and given the fine surroundings of the Goethe Institute for our Sunday Afternoon "Wagner on Compact Disc", we were treated to three consecutive months of beautiful music :- "The Flying Dutchman", "Tannhauser" and finally "The Mastersingers". The hardware for these delightful winter afternoons is provided by Jessie and Keith Anderson, who supply the discs and the marvellous sound equipment. Jessie also provides, as her contribution to the Society, the feast which accompanies the music.

In October at the home of Dennis Condon in Newtown we were again brought into touch with the past in a marvellous though sometimes eerie way - piano rolls created by composers and musicians long dead were played in a "look Mum, no hands" way that no recording could hope to reproduce.

Those who have not attended such an evening and would like to do so in the future should make their wishes known to a member of the Committee as I am sure we can arrange it. 

During one of the afternoon recording sessions at the Goethe Institute our special guest was Rita Hunter, who is also an honorary life member of the Society. Rita signed copies of her recently released autobiography and special copies of recordings. Her recital at Sydney Opera House took place later in the year, assisted by an anonymous donor. The Society had approached her earlier in the year with the aim of a similar concert but we decided instead to opt for a far larger recital accompanied by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra during the January-February 1988 Sydney Festival. We approached the Festival Committee, who liked the idea that we would guarantee Rita's fee, and they are at present considering the programme. We will be advised in the near future.

The Wagner Society Scholarship was awarded this year to Mr John Wregg, resident producer with the Australian Opera. His extensive study tour of Europe was assisted by the Society paying for his airfare, which we were able to negotiate through Neutral Bay Travel, with a good deal which saved the Society about $700. Mr Wregg attended one of our recording afternoons at the Goethe Institutue and outlined his plans. Hopefully his enthusiasm for the Master will have seen strengthened by his trip.

The calendar year 1986 was brought to a close at the Goethe Institute with our annual Christmas party, which I am sure was enjoyed by all who attended. This fruitful co-operation of our Society and the Goethe Institute facilitates our need for a suitable and agreeable venue and at no cost to us. Hiring a hall of such quality would be prohibitive. However, there are hidden costs such as our public liability insurance, the equipment the Society is acquiring, and all the minor things that just add up. Although it is against the law to charge to hear these recordings, we would like those who can to give as much as possible in donations towards these expenses and so help the general revenue of the Society.

The recording afternoon in March this year of Strauss' Alpine Symphony and "Salome" brought the year's activities to a close.

With the creation of a Functions Sub-Committee last year, all these events can now be planned in even finer detail, and with experience, the more professional they will become.

This brings me to the Newsletter. We have had awful problems over the last few issues which were brought to a head with the March issue. Despite careful proof-reading by our Editor, Janet Wayland, and earlier delivery of copy many weeks prior to printing and despatch, there were numerous mistakes in spelling and layout. The cost of the Newsletter and postage on same eats into about 50percent of our subscription fees so we need to get value for money. Other printers have been looked at, but we now have written assurance from Printmail that these problems will be a thing of the past since they have hired new staff and acquired a correct-spelling programme for their computer. I can assure members that under no circumstances can our Committee be blamed for errors such as spelling and layout. The problem was beyond our control.

Last year we approached Bayreuth direct for the first time as a Society, requesting a block booking. This was reinforced by the personal approach of our founding President Leonard Hansen when he was there last year. We were rewarded with twelve sets of tickets for the second cycle, and a further two sets throughour membership of the "Friends of Bayreuth". These latter two sets were put up for ballot. In the case of the twelve sets, we had twelve applications, so there was no need for a draw . This year we will again submit an application and if successful any tickets allocated will be shared by ballot. This is the fairest method.

During his visit to Europe last year, Dr Hansen attended and represented us at the International Wagner Congress in Stuttgart. He made many useful contacts and certainly put our Society on the international map. His generosity both in time and money to our Society is an example to us all.

The Society has donated $5000 towards the Australian Opera's forthcoming production of "Lohengrin". This sum was matched by Dr Hansen and he insisted all credit be given in publicity etc. to the Society. This very generous donation enabled the Society to be given star billing in all newspaper advertisements, programmes and promotional material. A "seat drop" of brochures setting out the aims of the Society and inviting membership will be undertaken by staff of the Sydney Opera House during the performances of "Lohengrin". This will no doubt reach many who do not know of our existence. The printing of the brochure will be at our expense. Hopefully our plea for donations as in the March Newsletter will be answered.

Many of the functions and programmes for members are in the pipeline. Two highlights will be the seminar on "Lohengrin" and the hoped-for recital by Rita Hunter during the Sydney Festival.

From all I have said tonight you can see your Committee has been and continues to be extremely busy on your behalf. We must never forget that nobody receives any financial payment for the work.

Before I close I would like to say "thank you" on your behalf to the following: Judy Ferfoglia for her untiring work as Secretary, typing letters, minutes, membership cards, mailing lists, and all the other duties of a Secretary; Joseph Ferfoglia, our Treasurer, whose profession as an accountant has proved invaluable, especially since the Society was incorporated last year and the complexities of the office have mushroomed. His financial report to members, of which you have a copy, is excellent; Janet Wayland for her work as Editor of the Newsletter and the liaison work as Vice President proved invaluable throughout a frustrating year; Olive Coonan and Murray Smith for their duties such as organizing the annual dinner, rounding up late bookers, liaising with hotel management and the miriad of tasks successfully undertaken; Jessie and Keith Anderson for their assistance at the recording afternoons, providing food for both soul and body; and to Jessie for her cataloguing the Society's books and music, and all the other chores so faithfully done; Dr Leonard Hansen, our roving ambassador both here and abroad, whose expertise and knowledge of just who to speak to to foster good relations and furthering the aims of the Society is inestimable, and again for his financial support; Michel Arnold and David McCulloch for their work on the Functions Sub-Committee, on which I might add several others serve and which involves many long hours of intense discussion and planning.

Michel will not be standing for re-election this year, but he did say he was still happy to be seconded when required. Also David McCulloch, who is retiring from his job and returning to live in the U.K. We thank him, and wish him well in the future; Arthur Carter for his lone work on our behalf on 2MBSFM. He is always asking for programme ideas and help, but seems to be able to fish up many different angles to keep "The Wagner Society Presents" interesting and enjoyable.

Many other members have assisted the Committee with donations of books, food, translations, extra typing etc. Those I thank on your behalf. And we must not forget our honorary auditor, Reg Maloney, who not only audits but conducts a courier service between the registered office of the Society and the home office of our Treasurer and Secretary. If I have left anyone out I ask your indulgence.

And finally I thank those of you who took the trouble to be here tonight.

Richard King 


December 1987

1987 has been a year packed with marvelous events and I can say with pride that I think all members can be proud of the committee's responsibilities and the professional way these have been carried out.

The highlight was undoubtedly the Seminar on "Lohengrin" at the Goethe Institute during August. Those who attended have all agreed it was a great success. The production of the opera by Australian Opera was superb and could be given pride of place in any of the world's great houses.

Our Annual Dinner at the Menzies Hotel - a feast of good food - great atmosphere and our remarkable good fortune in acquiring at the last minute, a replacement guest of honour for Alberto Remedios who was indisposed. All agreed that Sandra Hahn was magnificient and the evening turned out to be one of the most convivial of all our annual dinners.

Luckily we immediately re-booked the Menzies Ballroom for '88 as we have now found the entire year is almost booked out for such venues throughout Sydney!!

A "super" surprise guest has already accepted our invitation and 1988 promises even more goodies than '87.

Come to the Christmas Party at the Goethe Institute as we will have prepared a detailed list for your diaries. Interesting entertainment has been organised - great food - fine wine and pure juices and, of course, fellow Wagnerians.

A very good Christmas to you all and a healthy, happy and prosperous 1988. 

Richard King