The Blue Mountains Concert Society was founded in 1966 by Fred Astle and Duncan McPhee-Smith and presented its first concert on the 24th of August of that year with the Suk Trio from Prague.
The society presented a series of 5 concerts annually up to 2006, and the concerts were mostly attended by subscribers who either took a full subscription or a “take three” subscription, with a few door sales each concert. The concerts programs and artists were mostly selected from the Musica Viva catalogue. The offering was mainly classical chamber music, jazz and contemporary artists, including a division of the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, the King’s Singers, Swingle II, the Stuttgart Chamber Choir and the Tasmania Symphony Orchestra.
From 2007, the series was expanded to include other groups as well as independent artists, starting with a recital by Rem Urasin in April 2007 in collaboration with the Sydney International Piano Competition and with the Brandenburg Ensemble later that year. There followed the first known performance of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in the Blue Mountains in February 2008 and the Sydney International piano Competition Winner and People’s Choice, Konstantin Shamray and Tatiana Koloseva respectively. 2009 saw the return of members of the Sydney Symphony in a presentation “Discovering Prokofiev” with Richard Gill.
2010 featured a concert with the Sydney Youth Orchestra, with a piano concerto played by Konstantin Shamray and composed by Sydney composer Daniel Rojas. 2010 was also the first year that we presented a choral concert in St Finbar’s Catholic Church in Glenbrook with the Sydney Chamber Choir. We enjoy an ongoing relationship with all these and many other artist groups that allows us to plan an annual series that is packed with amazing music and superb delivery.
The number of concerts per annum went to a peak of 12 concerts in 2010. The number of concerts is more dependent upon our being able to secure suitable dates for the concerts in the mountains than on the availability of artists. However, it is also dependent upon having sufficient committee members and helpers to assist with the work to make these music evenings a success. So if you like having this music available in the mountains, please volunteer your help by visiting our Support page.
The Society's home venue is the magnificent newly built "Blue Mountains Theatre & Community Hub" (formerly Springwood Civic Centre). The grand opening was on 14 March 2015. The concerts organised by the Blue Mountains Concert Society are held in the theatre of this elegant complex, which can accommodate up to 420 people.
Many of our concerts commence with a curtain raiser performance by a young artist from the Blue Mountains or the Sydney region. Details of this young performer program can be found on Young Artist. Our principal artists then present their program which generally consists of two sets of music of 45 to 50 minute duration, separated by a 20 minute interval. All in all, the concert evenings are a wonderful experience which includes hearing wonderful music in a congenial atmosphere as well the opportunity to chat to artists and friends.
The Musical Mix in the concert series
We believe that it is important to provide our members with a wide variety of music. There may be some items that you don’t care for at all, but be assured: some members of the audience will appreciate them. At least give them a hearing, as some unfamiliar works will be unexpectedly enjoyable, and they will be balanced by other items more to your taste.
The mainstay of our members are classical chamber music lovers, and our annual concert series always has a fair content of this genre. We ask our artists to include some popular classical content in their program, as well as pieces that are composed in the 20th or 21st century. We also encourage the performance of pieces by Australian composers. While often the latter two are regarded by many as an atonal aural attack, we find that artists generally choose modern music that is quite accessible. We also include concerts that are Jazz or of contemporary world music flavour, sometimes interspersed with classical items. These concerts usually have larger audiences as they have a wider musical appeal.
We try to include concerts that are unusual in terms of program or instruments, such as early music ensembles and brass groups. Other examples are concerts including the Russian balalaika, the didgeridoo or the theorbo.
Simon Tedeschi is the Patron of our society, which is a very fitting association. Simon is a magnificent pianist who has performed regularly in our series in recent years. He is a great supporter and ambassador of the Society and has provided many good ideas for our concert series, bringing many of his artist friends to perform for us and enhance our musical offering.