Set­tlers con­tinue tra­di­tion of mu­sic play­ing

Ev­ery church had a choir, ev­ery town a brass band and per­for­mances were held

The Northern Star - - NEWS - SWEET SOUNDS: Lis­more Or­ches­tral So­ci­ety set to per­form, c.1910

MU­SIC has al­ways played a large part in the ev­ery­day lives of peo­ple on the North Coast.

Great ef­forts were made by early set­tlers to bring mu­si­cal in­stru­ments with them so their tra­di­tions could con­tinue through fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

Some re­ports say that Wil­liam Wil­son of Lis­more Sta­tion rafted a pi­ano up the 90 miles from Bal­lina.

Pi­anos were very pop­u­lar and at one time there were sev­eral firms or agents in Lis­more com­pet­ing with each other in this lu­cra­tive mar­ket.

Teach­ers flocked to the area to at­tend to the wants of en­thu­si­as­tic am­a­teurs.

Pal­ings, Ni­chol­sons and later Mar­cus Clark and Carl Small are names to re­mem­ber as pi­ano deal­ers.

These pi­anos were made over­seas, of­ten in Ger­many and France, and shipped out in great crates.

One fam­ily at Len­nox Head had a large Lipp up­right pi­ano which had won many prizes in Ger­man com­pe­ti­tions.

The gilt medals were at­tached just in­side the lid of the big pi­ano.

It is good to re­mem­ber that our so­ci­ety was mul­ti­cul­tural. Ital­ians, the French and Ger­mans in par­tic­u­lar mixed with the Bri­tish.

There were also many Ir­ish set­tlers. Each group brought some­thing of its own cul­ture and tra­di­tions to the area and was ea­ger to join in and make mu­sic.

With­out ra­dio, tele­vi­sion and pic­ture-the­atres, most of the en­ter­tain­ment had to be home-grown.

A fam­ily sing-song around the pi­ano was a reg­u­lar event in many homes. Visitors joined in and in this way group singing and en­sem­ble play­ing be­gan to flour­ish.

All the daugh­ters were taught to play the pi­ano; some also played the vi­olin or cello.

There were many out­stand­ing per­form­ers.

One of these was Le­muel Snow, an Amer­i­can, who was in the tim­ber trade and ar­rived in Lis­more in the 1860s.

He pos­sessed a fine bass voice and brought with him a large quan­tity of mu­sic, in­clud­ing scores for in­stru­men­tal works and or­a­to­rios.

He also had a fine col­lec­tion of books chiefly on mu­sic.

He was one of the first to share his mu­si­cal tal­ents and to teach oth­ers.

Mu­sic brought peo­ple to­gether so­cially and sev­eral mar­riages de­vel­oped from this.

Two of these were when so­pra­nos Mary David­son and El­iza Wother­spoon mar­ried tenors Ed­ward Sav­ille and James P.F. Walker.

Choirs and or­ches­tras were soon es­tab­lished in the towns.

Ev­ery church had a choir, ev­ery town a brass band. Com­pe­ti­tions and pub­lic per­for­mances were en­cour­aged.

When the Lis­more Mu­si­cal Fes­ti­val was es­tab­lished in 1908, it was a great suc­cess and thou­sands of peo­ple flocked to Lis­more to hear con­tes­tants ap­pear­ing in a huge tent on the re­cre­ation grounds.

The re­sults of the fes­ti­val were printed in Syd­ney pa­pers, in­clud­ing the pres­ti­gious Town and Coun­try Jour­nal, with pho­to­graphs of the con­tes­tants and, in some cases, the full text of ad­ju­di­ca­tion com­ments.

Com­peti­tors came from all over New South Wales and south­ern Queens­land and ri­valry was in­tense though friendly.

A lo­cal op­er­atic com­pany was es­tab­lished as well as a phil­har­monic so­ci­ety in Lis­more.

It was not only mu­sic that flour­ished, how­ever – drama and danc­ing per­for­mances were also held.

Peo­ple from places like Casino and Bal­lina joined in the fun.

And the au­di­ences loved them all!

CON­TACT: Pre­pared by c Ge­off and Mar­garet Hen­der­son for Rich­mond River His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety, 02 6621 9993. info@rich­his­ Mu­seum at 165 Molesworth St, Lis­more is open 10am–4pm Mon­day–Fri­day; Re­search room open 10am–4pm Mon­day and Wed­nes­day.

of Have some­thing his­toric in­ter­est? to hear We would live from you, email tracey.hordern@ north­ern­

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