Su­per so­prano watches as stu­dents fol­low a sim­i­lar path

Dubbo Photo News - - News - By NATALIE HOLMES

THERE have been many spe­cial mo­ments for Dawn Walsh dur­ing her singing ca­reer but see­ing two of her for­mer stu­dents per­form a ‘thank you’ con­cert in her hon­our was a time of great pride for the trea­sured teacher.

“The con­cert went very well, they did me proud,” she said of the af­ter­noon event which fea­tured the tal­ents of singers Bil­lie Palin and Nathan Bryon ac­com­pa­nied by lo­cal pi­anist Di Pas­coe.

“I’m very proud of them, they are ab­so­lutely mar­vel­lous.”

The mu­si­cal ca­reers of Bil­lie and Nathan are just be­gin­ning, with the Dubbo pair now com­bin­ing study and per­for­mance from their new Syd­ney base.

Dawn trod a very sim­i­lar path her­self and can re­late to the de­ter­mi­na­tion that’s needed to suc­ceed as a singer.

“They have to have the drive to do some­thing like that and the tal­ent. Luck­ily, both of them have it.”

Dawn’s own singing ca­reer started in a sim­i­lar fash­ion – as a 16-year-old in the town of Bowral.

“The first I knew about singing, I was in sixth class,” she ex­plained.

“The teacher recog­nised my abil­ity but later on, I ob­vi­ously wanted it too.”

Dawn has vivid mem­o­ries of her early singing days, re­call­ing her first trips to at­tend lessons.

“I used to catch a steam train to Syd­ney at 6.20 on a Satur­day morn­ing which was fol­lowed by the 490 bus with a packet of choco­late bis­cuits and sit on the top storey,” she rem­i­nisced.

Dawn’s tal­ents were passed down by her father, al­though he wasn’t a big fan of pur­su­ing singing as a ca­reer.

“My dad was the mu­si­cal one, he played the pi­ano, my mum was tone deaf.

“He thought that singing would make a fool of me.”

Dawn’s ca­reer was any­thing

Dawn Walsh watches per­for­mances at the con­cert held in her hon­our at St An­drew’s Chapel on Sun­day, May 20. The con­cert was or­gan­ised by Dawn’s stu­dents Nathan By­ron and Bil­lie Palin (pic­tured left), now both pur­su­ing their own ca­reers in mu­sic. PHO­TOS: COLIN ROUSE. but fool­ish as she went on to study with Maxwell Speed, who taught her to use her vo­cal range.

“I was singing in the lower part of the voice,” she ex­plained.

At the age of 28, the so­prano was se­lected for in­clu­sion in Opera Aus­tralia.

“It was very dif­fi­cult to get into, there was an au­di­tion process.”

Singing in the cho­rus, Dawn also per­formed many ma­jor roles for some of the big names in the busi­ness.

“I cov­ered Joan Suther­land in Norma, Leonie Mitchell in Madame But­ter­fly and I did Nabucco.

“I was still in the cho­rus as well, but I was an un­der­study for the ma­jor roles be­cause I had a big voice.”

When Joan Car­den turned down Madame But­ter­fly and Dawn was over­looked for the role by a re­place­ment from Mel­bourne, she knew it was time for a change.

“That’s when I sold my unit in Par­ra­matta and went to Ger­many,” she told Dubbo Photo News, ex­plain­ing that the un­der­ly­ing pol­i­tics of pro­fes­sional opera singing of­ten made it dif­fi­cult.

“If you aren’t go­ing to give me a chance in Bris­bane, then I’m not go­ing to get a chance at all.”

Dawn moved to Trier where she stud­ied with Michael Rhodes for a few years be­fore re­turn­ing to Aus­tralia, con­tin­u­ing her oper­atic ca­reer un­til the age of 65.

She didn’t get ner­vous on stage and loved the char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion of the mu­si­cal style.

“It’s won­der­ful be­cause you lose your own iden­tity and be­come some­one else. We were very well-re­hearsed – the call sheet would come out and that was your life.”

Af­ter meet­ing Chris Har­ri­son, Dawn em­barked on a new chap­ter of her life and one which has now come full cir­cle – from be­ing taught to be­ing the teacher.

“Chris was in the opera com­pany when I re­tired and be­came a friend. When he be­came head of the Macquarie Con­ser­va­to­rium, I asked him for a job. I’ve been teach­ing for 13 years.

Dawn be­lieves “these things are meant to be”.

“I taught Bil­lie and Nathan singing. Nathan was play­ing the tuba but he wanted to learn singing. He would sit out­side the door while Bil­lie was hav­ing her les­son.

“I taught them the same tech­niques that I was taught. I also be­lieve that they have to be strong enough to keep go­ing. It’s a tough ca­reer and they will have to get up many times. But they’ve both got the drive to get where they need to be.” IN cel­e­bra­tion of World No To­bacco Day to­day (Thurs­day, May 31), Marathon Health said it is con­tin­u­ing its com­mit­ment to curb smok­ing habits by im­ple­ment­ing ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams to school stu­dents in Dubbo and the sur­round­ing towns, through the use of a peer-led model with a fo­cus on healthy mes­sages.

Marathon Health, with help from headspace Dubbo, is of­fer­ing a 10-week ed­u­ca­tion course to sec­ondary schools stu­dents.

This pro­gram is avail­able to young peo­ple in Dubbo and sur­round­ing ar­eas. For more in­for­ma­tion about ways to com­bat smok­ing, call Marathon Health on 1300 402 585.

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