2nd September, 2015
2015 AGM President’s Report
Bathurst City & RSL Band Assoc. Inc.
For me this is a watershed day in the ongoing history of the Bathurst Band.
I’d like to take this opportunity to explain why.
A bit of background: 25 years ago Mathias Rogala-Koczorowski came to Bathurst to take up a brass teacher’s job at the Central Western Music Centre, now the Mitchell Conservatorium. I had been here for several years and it was good to be reacquainted with him as he and I had performed together in various orchestras in Sydney over several years before I then moved to Bathurst.
Mathias had been actively involved in the band movement in Sydney from a very early age and was, and still is, passionate about the benefits of community music making, so on his arrival he enquired about the local band activities. Almost to the month, 25 years ago, he found out the Bathurst Band committee was to hold a meeting to wind up the band’s activities. He went to the meeting and volunteered to take over the reins as musical director. The band had approximately 10 members. He was adamant that that year’s town Carols by Candlelight performance should not be cancelled and so managed to find enough performers, including myself, for the event to occur – his and my first of many. Only later did I become aware that the band had had an unbroken connection to the Bathurst district since 1885 and had also been the instigator of the town Carols performances.
Under Mathias’ leadership the band has had some significant performances – participation in the Australian Bicentenary March in Sydney in 2001, (following in the hoofsteps of the District Band, in the guise of the Regimental Band of the Mounted Rifles, which took part in Federation Parade in Sydney on January 1st 1901), performed on stage as part of the Federation musical City of the Plains, made an appearance in the ABC television program Australians at War and provided the sound track for the feature film, the Chifleys of Busby Street. We also featured on a Telstra local phone book cover several years ago and that picture is now on our web site – thanks to Annalee Waight!
The Band also takes part every year in the Civic and Ceremonial duties for ANZAC and Remembrance days as well as Proclamation Day and yearly concerts and Machattie Park rotunda performances.
In 1990 I started as Secretary and, lately, as President and Public Officer. During that period I have been involved in the band becoming an Incorporated entity, being offered a lease on the old Bathurst Railway Institute building, which had to be declined due to contamination issues, and negotiated a lease on the Walmer Park club house that we now call home. The Railway Institute project took lot of time and effort thanks to the late Bill Bergan and to solicitors and architects willing to assist the band. Another major achievement had been the reinstatement of the Sam Lewins Gate in Machattie Park – The band is directly descended from the celebrated Bathurst District Band, which was founded in 1885 by legendary Samuel Lewins, who went on to conduct it for over 50 years, which Anniversary was celebrated in 1935 with a massive Jubilee celebration and the erection of the Lewins Memorial Gates in Machattie Park. The band cele- brated the restoration of the Lewins Gates with a Band Festival in 2004, a milestone achievement for the Band.
This year we began the next 5 year lease on these premises and we are on the verge of finalising a Memorandum of Understanding with Mitchell Conservatorium that gives us significant opportunities in using their various resources, both instruments and staff and students.
I now turn to the watershed items. Mathias has always had a goal of bettering the record 50 years of service set by Sam Lewins. but unfortunately his declining health has forced him to announce his retirement. The band committee has recently gone through a thorough and arms length process, also involving the band members, to select a new musical director in Wendy Byles who the members present at the AGM will be invited to ratify.
Having been administratively involved with the band since Mathias became musical director, I have now determined that this is also a good time for me to withdraw from the committee to allow others to help steer the band in new directions with the new musical director.
The band has been fortunate in having very capable committees over many years, for whose efforts I am sincerely grateful, and I would like to highlight the efforts of our current committee over this year – one example being our Facebook and website pages are new and very effective, thanks to Annalee Waight.
I would also acknowledge the ongoing commitment of all the members of the band for participating in our community events – the RSL ex-servicemen are genuinely moved by our contributions for their ceremonial occasions. I would also like to acknowledge the people who form the backbone of the band over many years – here I must mention the Denmead family, particularly Jim and as well as Peter Freestone, both life members, who both have helped steer the band as past Presidents.
Elissa Jones has been a tireless worker as Committee Secretary and has agreed to be nominated for the vacant President position on the committee and I am in no doubt that she will be a strong advocate for the band in its new direction.
I am sure that Wendy and the committee will continue on with the great work of Sam Lewins and Mathias and I look forward to the band prospering into the future.
I thank you for the opportunity to have been involved in this great tradition.
President Bathurst City & RSL Band Assoc. Inc.