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March 3, 2024

Celebrating 100 years of the Murwillumbah Philharmonic Society

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The Murwillumbah Philharmonic Society Choir in its current incarnation. Photo supplied.

It has been 100 years since the Murwillumbah Philharmonic Society and it’s associated choir and orchestra began and this year they are celebrating.

In May 1923, a meeting was held to form a committee to begin a local community choir in Murwillumbah. A committee was then established and this led to the formation of the Murwillumbah Philharmonic Society, the society included the choir and an orchestra.

This committee also led to the formation of the Murwillumbah Music Festival, now known as the Murwillumbah Festival of Performing Arts Society Inc.

Music Director, Heather Martin OAM said it’s hard to believe it’s been 100 years. ‘It’s true – 100 years ago!

Two recesses

‘The choir had two recesses, the first being during World War II and the second during the late 50s and 60s, I believe because of television coming to town.

Ms Martin said this current third formation of the choir began in 1979 and has continued for 44 years with a minor recess of two years because of covid-19 lockdowns. ‘The first two choirs travelled locally and to Brisbane and Grafton, competing in eisteddfodau and performing in prestigious local events. 

‘The present choir, the third choir, has performed with Harry Secombe and Opera Queensland and has toured Internationally to Wales, competing in the Llangollen Music Festival, followed by a fringe tour of the midlands of England, then New Zealand, a South Pacific cruise and in 2012, to Canada, where the choir competed in the Kathaumixw International Choral Festival at Powell River, British Columbia, followed by a fringe concert tour of British Columbia.

‘Also in 2012, some of our members sang at the world premiere of The Peacemakers by Karl Jenkins in Carnegie Hall, New York.’

Styles from the Renaissance to contemporary

The choir’s repertoire includes most styles from the Renaissance to contemporary, both sacred and secular, art music, madrigals, jazz, folk, pop and rock.

All three choirs comprised local people who had a love for singing and fine choral music. They rehearsed weekly presenting concerts two or three times a year as well as local engagements.

The present choir rehearses for two hours, weekly, except for NSW school holidays.

There are many thank yous owed to the many people, who have made the choirs so stable and enjoyable especially the

music directors, Reg Aked, Jenni Hibbard and of course Heather Martin. 

Unfortunately there is not much information about the first and second choir. If you have more information or photographs, please contact Heather Martin.

The choir will celebrate its 100 years with a concert at All Saints Anglican Church, Murwillumbah on Sunday December 3 at 2.30pm. If you would like to participate in this performance and have been a past member, please contact Heather Martin ([email protected]).


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