Afternoon Tea in Support of the 2015 Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition
Our Board led by Mr Ian Hanger QC; the dependable members of the jury headed by the redoubtable Piers Lane, fresh from the Australian Festival of Chamber Music; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.
I am delighted to welcome you all here today, following the magnificent Opening Concert of the twenty-fifteen Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition yesterday afternoon.
Kaye, by the way, will be with us in a little while. She is presently witnessing another sort of performance – by our grandson at his school’s grandparents’ day.
Music lovers all over Brisbane are looking forward immensely to this marvellous two-week feast of piano music, performed by some of Australia’s and New Zealand’s finest young musicians, and to hearing the final result.
For the contestants, your visit here today offers a brief respite from preparation for tomorrow’s competitive performance rounds.
It is an opportunity for me, as Governor, to recognise, publicly, the talent and hard work which have brought you to this competition.
This reception also enables me to thank and honour those who have ensured that the competition has continued to thrive in the sixteen years since it was first established.
What a brilliant State-national-international phenomenon it has become; from those very early days thanks to the inspiration of people like Donald Magarey and Ian Hanger and, yes, Pier Lane.
The thriving development of the competition has been assured by the competition jurors, the committed Board Directors, the generous sponsors and donors, the wonderfully hospitable host families who provide a home-away-from-home for the contestants, and of course the extraordinary talent and commitment of the competitors and performers.
Without the support of every one of you, the competition and festival would simply not be possible.
It’s fitting that we should be celebrating today in a room which features a grand piano as its centrepiece.
There used to be a Bechstein here, from the days of Lady Chelmsford. Viscount Chelmsford was our 10th Governor from 1905 to 1909. In the 1980s, Sir James Ramsay passed it to the National Trust, which restored it – and it now stands proudly in Old Government House, where it is often played!
Well sadly, the busy life of a Governor does not enable me to dedicate the hours of practice necessary for me to hone my boyhood skills as a pianist.
Nevertheless, despite that lack of practice, I was unable to escape giving a public performance earlier this year – a rendition of our national song on an old upright piano at the Waltzing Matilda Centre in Winton!
Sadly for music lovers everywhere, the performance was filmed and has since been perpetuated on social media. I do not, as they say, intend to change my day job! Even more sadly, as you may know, that piano is no more – a consequence of the devastating destruction of the Waltzing Matilda Centre by fire.
I have every confidence, that unlike me, the young men and women in the twenty-fifteen Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition, with the mentorship and support of musicians such as Jury President, Piers Lane, will go on to develop substantial careers in music.
Kaye and I wish you every success not just for the rest of this Festival, but for your future careers.