About the Society
Our members are lovers of the music and operas of Richard Wagner, and also support Wagnerian productions in Australia and emerging Wagnerian performers from NSW.
Society in-person events are held most months at 2.00pm usually on a Sunday and normally at the Goethe Institut, 90 Ocean Street, Woollahra. The Society now also holds online events via zoom.
In-person events include presentations by Wagner singers, conductors and directors of Wagner operas; concerts by Wagner singers and artists supported by the Society; seminars on topics relating to Wagner's music and current productions of Wagner operas; celebration of Wagner's birthday; and a Christmas concert and party. In addition, DVDs of Wagner operas or related areas are often shown before the meeting (but not before recitals or concerts).
President: Esteban Insausti
Patron: Maestro Simone Young AM
Honorary Life Members
Werner Baer MBE (d. 1992)
Dr Colleen Chesterman (d. 2023)
Professor Michael Ewans
Joseph Ferfoglia (d. 2013)
Leonard Hansen (d. 1990)
Rita Hunter CBE (d. 2001)
Dr Dennis Mather
The Hon Jane Mathews AO (d. 2019)
Reg Maloney (d. 2001)
Barbara McNulty (d. 2020)
Leonie Rysanek (d. 1998)
Dr Terence Watson
John Wegner AO (d. 2019)
The Society's aims
- to promote the music of Richard Wagner and his contemporaries
- to encourage a wider understanding of their work
- to support Wagnerian productions in Australia and emerging Wagnerian performers from NSW:
Committee elected at the 2023 AGM
President: Esteban Insausti
Immediate Past President: Dr Colleen Chesterman
Vice Presidents: Mike Day and Dr Marie Leech
Treasurer: Danny May
Secretary: Ross Whitelaw
Membership Secretary: Julie Clarke
Members: Dr June Donsworth, Dr Robert Mitchell and Margaret Whealy
Quarterly Editor: Mike Day
Artists' Liaison: Leona Geeves
Webmaster: Lis Bergmann
Public Officer: Alasdair Beck
A regular e-news is emailed to members and friends. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be added to the list.
You can view videos, including some of the Society's past performances and talks, on our YouTube channel.
The Society's history
Following discussions in Bayreuth and London by several people interested in having a Wagner Society in Sydney, the Foundation meeting attended by 15 people was held at the Print Room Gallery, London on 26 October 1980. At this meeting an interim committee was formed to report back and the Society's Swan Lines logo was designed by Michel Arnould.
By early 1981, the Wagner Society of NSW had been established as an unincorporated association. Its first public function, a film evening showing documentaries on Bayreuth and the Ring centenary, was held in March 1981. Its first Annual General Meeting, at which the interim committee stepped down, a new committee was elected and the Constitution was adopted, was held on 22 May. Dr Leonard Hansen became the Society's first President and Sir Charles Mackerras its first Patron. Founding Members were each presented with a book "The Wagner Family Albums". Wagner's birthday was celebrated after the meeting, with German food and wine.
The Society was established as an incorporated association on 15 December 1986 (with alteration of the original Objects and Rules accepted on 31 August 1987).
More recent events:
- 1999 saw the launch of the Society's website.
- New Rules were adopted in 2005.
- In 2011 the Society's membership reached 1000 (both financial and unfinancial).
- The original logo for the Society was replaced by the current one in 2013, and was reflected in the new Wagner Society Quarterlies and on this website.
- A new website was launched in 2017.
- A special event to celebrate 40 years since Wagner lovers met in Bayreuth & agreed to start a Wagner Society in Australia (23 May 2021)
Dr Leonard Hansen
The Hon Jane Mathews AO
Dr Colleen Chesterman
Esteban Insausti (August 2020 - )
Sir Charles Mackerras
Simone Young AM (2011 - )