President's reports 2020

March / June / September / December 2020


March 2020
I trust everyone is safe after the terrible fires, smoke storms and floods. (Remind anyone of Götterdämmerung?)

I’m delighted to confirm that our esteemed Patron, Maestro Simone Young AO will become Chief Conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in early 2022.

The Society started off 2020 with a very fine concert on 27 February in memory of our late Past President the Honourable Justice Jane Mathews AO. It came about due to the generosity of her friend Maestro Anthony Negus. He and his wife Carmen and our Artists’ Liaison Leona Geeves did a wonderful job organizing 5 outstanding young singers performing romantic works accompanied by Anthony. Attendance was excellent and it was a good example of the Society’s aims in action – promoting the music of Wagner and his contemporaries and fostering young talent. Proceeds from the concert will go into our sponsorship fund. In the last year the Society gave over $20,000 to young performers to help with travel and tuition. This money has been raised from subscriptions and profits from the many events we hold plus generous donations from members. Thank you everyone for supporting our aims.

2020 is a very exciting year for Wagner lovers with performances of Lohengrin and Das Rheingold in Melbourne and Tristan und Isolde and the Ring in Brisbane. The Society is discussing ways we might be able to help with on-going sponsorship of young NSW performers taking part in the Melbourne Opera’s Ring, which is being conducted by Anthony Negus.

Although we in Sydney are missing out on Wagner Opera performances the Society is providing backup with talks about the works plus other interesting recitals and talks by singers and creatives. Details may be found in the Quarterly.

This month we have the ever-popular Antony Ernst followed in April by the exciting singer/director Tabatha McFadyen – not to be missed.

Our Annual General Meeting is coming up in May and we are hoping some members will step up and nominate for a position on the Committee as some current members will be retiring. You will receive emails about this in due course. You need to be a financial member to attend so please ensure your membership fees are up to date.

After the AGM Peter Bassett will talk about Lohengrin followed by bubbles and cake to celebrate Wagner’s birthday. I hope to see you there.

I was saddened to learn of the passing at age 85 of Janet Wayland, a proud member of the founding days of the Wagner Society in NSW with Len Hansen. The Society has sent its condolences to the family.

President Colleen Chesterman


June 2020
2020 has been a difficult year so far, with some unexpected and unfortunate interruptions to our program.

We had planned a number of events but were frustrated by Covid-19 regulations preventing the Society from holding meetings. We have missed out on a talk by Tabatha McFadyen and on presentations by Antony Ernst and Peter Bassett, two highly regarded experts on Wagner. We were unable to have our AGM on 10 May accompanied by our celebration of Wagner’s birthday (though at 6 pm on that day a number of members joined together on Zoom to drink a toast to him).

We will now look forward to an important celebration of the achievements of the Society. In September we will commemorate 40 years since the first pioneers met in Bayreuth and decided to form a Wagner Society in Sydney. We will mark this significant event with a special meeting on September 27, at which cake and champagne will be served.

Thanks to the sterling efforts of Lis Bergmann, with input from Leona Geeves and Marie Leech, the Wagner Society in NSW now posts material on YouTube. It includes lists of artists supported by the Society, videos taken by individual members and information on recordings and performances of particular interest to anyone interested in Wagner’s compositions. This site also features performances of Wagner operas, currently Tannhauser and The Flying Dutchman.

I would like to take this opportunity of signalling that at the next AGM (the date of which is still unknown) I will be stepping down as President. It has been a privilege to hold this position and I have greatly enjoyed working with Committee members to do as much as I could to promote the interests of the Society.

President Colleen Chesterman