MiCN Awards 2010

Theme: Leadership

Six everyday Australians were winners of the 2010 Music in Communities Leadership-themed Awards, for their under-the-radar work in leading some of Australia’s outstanding community music programs.

The winners  of the 2010 Music in Communities Awards are:

Service Beyond the School Gate Award

Bob Favell, Cairns, QLD

bob_favellFor more than 35 years, Bob has led many orchestras, concert bands, stage bands, musicals and ensembles, encouraging and engaging musicians to perform at a level beyond their aspirations. From his base as music teacher at Cairns State High School, Bob has woven a web of outstanding musical opportunities for musicians of all ages and abilities in and around the North Queensland region. He has established a comprehensive music program for the local community which links young primary school performers into a comprehensive secondary school music program and on to high-achieving community orchestras and brass ensembles. The North Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra was born out of Bob’s desire to provide a forum in which outstanding students could showcase their talent by performing before their own community. The orchestra, whose members are music teachers, former students and experienced musicians from the Cairns region, has delighted its Cairns audiences for many years.

Judges’ comment: “Bob Favell has tirelessly served above and beyond the call of duty for more than 35 years [at Cairns State High School], enriching this lucky North Queensland community.”

Local Hero Award

Ray Gage, Gunalda, QLD

If you were driving on a quiet Sunday afternoon and you decided to drop into a small pub a few miles north of Gympie you might suddenly find yourself in a crowd of a hundred people cheering on an eclectic band of musicians playing anything from pub rock, to country or blues. The Gunalda Hotel Music Club operates on three simple principles: anyone can get up and have a go; people learn from each other; and performance needs a live audience. Ray encourages and fosters local talent providing what he calls ‘a safe place’ for them to perform in a supportive environment, where beginners and amateur musicians get support and mentorship from professional musicians who drop in to the club for a jam. And the loudest, most supportive and encouraging is Ray himself, according to one of his young players he’s “one in a million. Thanks mate. Truly Australian”.

 Judges’ comments: “With very few resources except his big heart and can-do attitude, Ray has launched a kind of musical and social lifeline in his community. There are open mic sessions in venues all over Australia but there was something about Ray’s no-nonsense nurturing at the Gunalda pub that really leapt off the page for us. Whose shout?”

Passion for Playing Award

Mike Hyder, Albany, WA

mike_hyderAn agricultural scientist by day, Mike Hyder spends most of his other hours indulging in his true passion: playing and teaching the violin. Shortly after arriving in Albany, Mike assembled the Albany String Quartet and was involved in Albany Fine Music Society, attracting national and international musicians and ensembles to the region. To provide performance opportunities for his and other violin students Mike founded Just Fiddling from which the Albany Chamber Orchestra grew a few years later. Capturing the imagination of some contemporary-minded musicians, Mike then started Crossbow a ‘celtic/country/indie’ band. One man’s passion for teaching and performing music has inflamed a whole community and attracted international attention. In 2009 a documentary was produced about preparations for one of his concerts, ‘The Really Big Fiddle Gig.’ Perhaps the last word should be left to one of Mike’s fellow musicians:  “Mike has a remarkable capacity to encourage and inspire people to feel as though their middle name is ‘Yehudi’!”

 Judges’ comments: “He creates opportunities for players of all levels to mix with stellar Australian and international musicians - no mean feat in a regional area - and he draws on chamber music, folk, celtic and anything else he can think of to keep his players interested and engaged.”

Award for Mentoring Indigenous Youth

Peter Lowson, Alice Springs, NT

peter_lowsonPeter has been working with Indigenous Youth and Adult education programs since 1983. In 2004 he started Drum Atweme, initially as a means of encourage school attendance. The program uses a variety of percussion instruments. Although primarily Afro-Cuban and Brazilian influenced, the rhythms are worked around the songs and stories of the indigenous participants’ culture. The program has transformed the lives of countless Alice Springs town camp-based children. Far exceeding its initial aims to help ameliorate social isolation and low self-esteem, children also show improvements across all their school subjects. Peter’s strong mentoring and peer leadership program within the drumming project has now resulted in 13 of the children attending boarding schools interstate. It is hoped that these children will return to the Alice Springs community as the leaders of the future.

 Judges’ comments: “Peter’s work is a great example of how there is often a link between achievement in music and broader improvements in school performance and other life skills. Giving at-risk young people access to quality musical resources and committed mentoring, he empowers them to break down social barriers and reach new heights.”

Reconciliation Award

Jo Randell, Forrestfield, WA

jo_randellFrom a firm belief that, through singing, people of different backgrounds could together explore Aboriginal culture, Jo Randell initiated a 13 week community arts project and Madjitil Moorna, Singers of Aboriginal Songs, was born. Though a talented musician and choir leader in her own right, Jo insisted from the start that the choir should have Aboriginal leadership. Now in its fifth year Madjitil Moorna, is an all-inclusive, community choir based near Perth, which sings contemporary and traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander music and led by award-winning Noongar musicians, George Walley and Della Rae Morrison. Performances at schools and at significant cultural events enable the choir to share its message of reconciliation and healing with the wider community.  In 2009, the choir travelled to Halls Creek in the Kimberley at the invitation of local school teacher, Doreen Green, to share its soulful songs of reconciliation and healing with Halls Creek school students. Ms Karl Mourach, cultural adviser: “Madjitil Moorna has gone from strength to strength through the inspirational leadership of Jo Randell. The choir has impacted emotionally on many diverse audiences. The initial thirteen week project has taken on a life of its own and has become a valued healing and reconciliation tool.”

Judges’ comments: “She saw a need, developed the concept and then was bighearted enough to stand in the background and let indigenous leaders lead. We were inspired the notion that culture and traditions can be preserved by exposing them to as many people as possible. Jo has created a forum in which black and white Australians can stand together and sing.”

Singing for Social Inclusion Award

Karen Roben , Albury Wodonga, VIC

karen_robenIn 2006 Karen founded The Wild Choir catering for people with a range of musical abilities and intellectual, physical and psychological difficulties who love to get together to sing and learn and have fun. When the money started to run out, Karen continued running the group on a volunteer basis but knew that this was not sustainable. In 2008 she gathered support to incorporate the group as MusicAbility Inc, paving the way for government cultural funds, small arts grants and philanthropic funding opportunities. Karen volunteers with Community Music Victoria; co-ordinates regional singing leadership workshops; runs singing sessions at the Highwater Theatre Program, an alternative performing arts school for marginalised teenagers; leads Vital Voices, a weekly Women’s vocal session and has helped establish nearby Valley Voices. She has been involved in the Yackandandah Folk Festival

 Judges’ comments: “Karen surely stepped out of Central Casting as an inspiring community music leader. Gifted with management as well as musical skills she can start something and keep it growing, bringing together the broadest range of people and helping each person to find their voice and use it.”

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