23 October 2023

Yass Music Club to celebrate 70th anniversary with the 'Power of POP'

| James Day
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Young Charlie Fleming playing a grand piano on a stage.

Year 9 scholarship student, Charlie Fleming, playing at the club’s last concert. The club’s Steinway grand piano was donated and draws pianists from all around the country. Photo: Ann Holmes.

Next month at Yass High School, it won’t just be kids bouncing off the auditorium walls.

To celebrate their 70th anniversary, The Yass Music Club (YMC) is hosting musical-making marvel Laura Murphy (The Dismissal, Qween Lear) to show the youth how pop is a universal language for storytelling.

‘The Power of POP!’ will give the busloads of regional children coming to the shows insight into Laura’s creative process through a medley of stories and popular tunes while she is backed by her talented four-piece band.

Off the back of Laura’s sold-out season at the Sydney Opera House with her original musical The Lovers; joining her on stage will be fellow experienced artists Blake Appelqvist (& Juliet, Fangirls) and Monique Salle (The Dismissal, Rent).

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YMC committee member, Ann Holmes says that their president Peter Crisp came up with the idea and it was agreed it would be a fantastic opportunity to introduce the Shire’s youth to musical styles to which they are less exposed nowadays.

“Lots of children are coming, and it will be a great bridge for them to explore the genre of pop culture and where it fits in the wider range of music,” she said.

“We just want to encourage them in their journey through music.”

In 1953, a small group of music enthusiasts including Ann’s late husband Dr RAG Holmes and Mary Reid, decided to put on a concert in the town that ended up drawing 300 people. The event’s success made it an annual tradition and YMC has been running ever since, bar one year due to COVID-19.

Two musicians on stage performing to a crowd. One in the background playing a grand piano, the other in front playing cello.

Sydney Symphony Orchestra cellist, Christopher Pidcock, has performed for the Yass Music Club. Photo: Ann Holmes.

While most of the original members have passed on, their 150 present strong community of music lovers are offering this ‘pop’ concert for the youth of Yass in the name of their first patron, Mary Reid. Yass is a very artistic town with a wide range of artistic endeavours being pursued by the district folk, and has several artists including some ANU School of Music lecturers living here.

The volunteer-run Club’s main aim is to provide the Shire of Yass with fine music, and have had some incredible talents grace their stage over the years. Some of the performers have included Australian opera singer and world-renowned soprano, Yvonne Kenny AM, composer, leading advocate for contemporary music Roger Woodward AC OBE, and one of the world’s leading harp soloists and a town local, Alice Giles.

But according to Ann, “We’re doing fewer esoteric classical concepts these days, because we recognise that many people value a wider range of fine music.”

“So our offerings are a little wider than they used to be, but possibly they are more attractive to modern Yass’ audiences,” she said.

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In recent times the Club has organised more concerts featuring musicians from all over the world thanks to the organisation Musica Viva: this has exposed the region to styles not performed in Yass previously. Part of this endeavour is the coming concert, which will have Laura’s band performing songs from the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Muriel’s Wedding and Rent – all especially for young people to enjoy.

‘The Power of POP!’ will be performed for school students from around the region at the brand-new Yass High School auditorium on 9 November at 10:30 am and 1 pm, and 10 November at 1 pm. Each will be an hour long concert and will feature a Q&A session with Laura.

YMC wants to thank those who contributed to the $33,000 of funding required for this concert, which has mainly been provided by a philanthropic foundation under the auspices of the Australian Cultural Fund.

‘The Power of POP!’ will be held at the Yass High School auditorium on 9 November at 10:30 am and 1 pm, and 10 November at 1 pm. Each will be an hour long concert and will feature a Q&A session with Laura. The event has sold out, but more information on future events can be found via the Yass Music Club website.

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