Surrey Hills Orchestra is a long established, community orchestra. We are a strong community of musicians who are proud of, and embrace a diversity of ages and players from professional and non-professional backgrounds. We encourage members to develop their skills as soloist players, and each year we run a Concertofest where players are invited to perform with the orchestra.
Rehearsals take place each Tuesday evening from 7.30pm. Surrey Hills Orchestra stages three major concerts each year in May, August, and December. All concerts are performed in the James Tatoulis Auditorium at MLC, Barkers Road, Kew.
We do not hold auditions, but prospective players will have had orchestral and/or ensemble experience, and have achieved the equivalent of at least Grade 7 AMEB. Good sight reading skills are assumed as is the willingness to work to achieve a high performance standard. Acceptance to the orchestra is dependent on positions available. There are always places for upper strings (violins and viola), brass, and extra percussionists.
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Marie-Louise Wright (Mary) was appointed as conductor for Surrey Hills Orchestra in November 2000 for the following year, 2001. Born in Graz, Austria, Mary studied violin and conducting at Melbourne University. She had previously conducted a number of orchestras and string ensembles. Thirty- nine of the fifty regular players have been with the Surrey Hills Orchestra for more than 5 years; and 13 for 10 years of longer - some since it's inception in 1983. There are now up to fifty players for each concert, and up to 4 performances are held each year.
Marie-Louise Wright not only conducts the Surrey Hills Orchestra, but also Eltham Orchestras; their two string ensembles, and teaches strings at Briar Hill Primary School and runs a lucrative private teaching business. Mary is a past conductor of Henry Touzeau Stringsfor Melbourne Youth Music; Preston Junior Strings and the Victorian Concert Orchestra. She has conducted many musicals for the Diamond Valley Singers with Eltham Orchestra including Oklahoma; Calamity Jane; Brigadoon; Fiddler on the Roof; Kismet; Carousel; Kiss Me Kate and The Pyjama Game. In July 2016, the Diamond Valley Singers and Eltham Orchestra Eltham Community Orchestra with Marie Louise Wright performed a season of 'Once Upon a Mattress': with music from Rodgers of Rodgers and Hammerstein.
A small group of amateur musicians who wanted to learn the skills of ensemble playing began rehearsing at the Victorian Music Library at Camberwell High School under the leadership of Lieta Legge (Jane Badger's violin teacher). Players were beginner adults. Some early players were Jane Badger (1981), Sally Duggan (1982), Linnell Barelli (oboe; Dec. 2012), Therese Wright (cello), Ron Lee (violin; Dec. 2012), Joan Davidson (clarinet), and Meryl Laity. Rehearsals started with scales and various exercises before playing very basic music.
In 1983 the Whitehorse Council built the Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre in Union Road, Surrey Hills. As Jane Badger puts it, "They built it just for us, so we moved in!" The musical group was then named the Surrey Hills Training Orchestra. It was a small string and wind ensemble of ten to fifteen players. After Lieta Legge, conductors were John Wanner, Mark Dunbar and Jenny Turner.
The orchestra grew to fifteen regular players, and towards the end of 1994, Greg Oates, a music teacher at Xavier College, became the conductor. He was very encouraging. The orchestra outgrew Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre. The 'training orchestra' merged with the orchestra of the Box Hill College of Music, and rehearsed adjacent to the Box Hill Town Hall. Kis and Dean were part of this group. This represented a quantum leap in size and musical standard. The orchestra performed two concerts in 1995 under the direction of Greg Oates.
In 1996 the rehearsal venue moved to the Hall of St Augustine's Anglican Church Mont Albert North. Jeanette Kearns, the wife of the minister of St Augustine's, was a musician and singing teacher. She was very supportive, and so the orchestra found a new home and a welcoming community with a strong musical tradition.
The rehearsal venue changed to the church at Holy Trinity Surrey Hills - the orchestra consisted of about 20 players.
In November 2000 Marie-Louise Wright (Mary) was appointed as Conductor for 2001. Born in Graz, Austria, Mary studied violin at Melbourne University, as well as conducting. She had previously conducted a number of orchestras and string ensembles. Since Mary's appointment the quality of the concerts has increased markedly, due to her skill in bringing the orchestra to performance standard. There are now between 40 and 50 players for each concert, and up to 4 performances are held each year. The Surrey Hills Orchestra is fortunate indeed to have such a qualified, experienced and delightful conductor as Marie-Louise Wright.
Compiled by Ian Johnson
Rehearsals are held each Tuesday from 7.30pm for strings and 8.00pm for orchestra during school terms.
Rehearsals include a break for supper at 9.00pm, and conclude at 10.00pm
Music stands are provided. Please BYO printed music from IMSLP, tuner and pencil to all rehearsals - but please no mobile phones.
Our rehearsals take place at:
Holy Trinity Church Hall,
cnr Union Rd and Montrose St, Surrey Hills
Holy Trinity Anglican Church: Trinity Hall
177 Union Road, Surrey Hills
Cnr Union Road and Montrose Street
[Enter from Montrose St - walk through carpark - Limited Parking available for players with special needs - eg players with large instruments; players with a disability or aged over 75)
A commitment is needed from you to attend a majority of rehearsals to be eligible to play in a performance. If you cannot attend a rehearsal, please let someone know.
Vivien & Roger Spencer: 0431 745 713
Emergency number: 0403 766 472 Stephen Spencer
For all queries regarding upcoming concerts, bookings, and interest in joining this orchestra, please contact Vivien Spencer:
0431 745 713
Tuesdays 7.30 - 10pm
during school terms