News

September 25, 2020

Geoffrey Chard AM

He has given of his own musical talent for many years, to give pleasure and knowledge to the people of Hunters Hill and beyond.

It is service to opera and music, not only in a distinguished career but through bringing the joy of music to the community, which makes Geoffrey Chard AM a Hunters Hill Hero.

Geoffrey has been the President of Hunters Hill Music for 25 years.

The not-for-profit organisation’s purpose is ‘to promote and enrich the musical life of our community’.

It formed 75 years ago, with concerts held initially in the homes of local residents until increasing audience numbers led to a move to Hunters Hill Town Hall.

Hunters Hill Music committee members Jenny and Denys Gillespie, who nominated Geoffrey as a Hunters Hill Hero, said in the early 1990s the club looked set to close owing to dwindling funds and poor attendances.

Peter Egan OAM took on the role as President and invited Geoffrey to perform in a concert, which was a revival celebration.

“More than 200 locals attended the recital to hear the world-renowned baritone who had recently returned from London and was now living in Hunters Hill,” Jenny said.

Geoffrey had been a foundation member of the National Opera of NSW in 1951 and the Elizabethan Trust Opera in 1956.  He moved to the UK in 1961 and for the next 24 years he performed with many British Opera companies – The Welsh National Opera, Glyndebourne, and The Royal Opera at Covent Garden, the Aldeburgh Festival and the Edinburgh Festival. He was the principal baritone with the English National Opera for 15 years. On his return to Australia he starred in many productions, the most notable being that of Voss in Richard Meale’s opera ‘Voss’.

 

Pictured above: Geoffrey in the 1960s; and c.1970 performing the title role in Don Giovanni at London Coliseum.

Alongside his busy performing career, Geoffrey dedicated many years to music education, teaching at The Royal Academy in London and The Conservatorium in Sydney. He also adjudicated and examined singing students Australia wide.

He was Secretary/Treasurer for the Australia Music Association in London for 25 years and on the Board of The Opera Foundation in Sydney.

For services to opera and music he was awarded an AM in the Order of Australia in 1988.

Back to Hunters Hill Music.

“So successful was Geoffrey’s introduction to the club, he accepted the role of President and subscriber numbers started to increase,” Jenny said.

He introduced a season launch in an elegant local home, fundraising concerts, senior citizens recitals, and a Sunday afternoon subscription series at Hunters Hill Town Hall.

“With his operatic connections Geoffrey was able to engage top quality musicians,” Jenny said.

The list of notable artists included Emma Matthews, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, Yvonne Kenny, David Hobson, Simon Tedeschi, Elena Kats-Chernin, the Streeton Trio, Andrew O’Keefe, Jane Rutter, Tamara-Anna Cislowska, Sydney Brass, Jose Carbo, Judi Connelli, Suzanne Johnson, Mark Isaacs, Amelia Farrugia, Taryn Fiebig, soloists from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, and many more.

“These artists were all regular performers at the Sydney Opera House and major concert venues throughout Australia,” Jenny said.

In addition, Geoffrey has introduced many up and coming musical entertainers, giving them public concert experience, including Katherine Allen, Tonya Lemoh, The Acacia Quartet, Natalie Aroyan and Christopher Nazarian, whilst for the last few years supporting the work of Pacific Opera.

A season at Hunters Hill Music would cover opera, art song, piano recitals, chamber music, Gilbert and Sullivan and jazz.

“Geoffrey has given of his own musical talent for many years, to give pleasure and knowledge to the people of Hunters Hill and beyond,” Jenny said.

“He truly is a Hunters Hill Hero.”

Geoffrey, who celebrated his 90th birthday in August, said that for him the joy was in bringing a wide range of top talent to Hunters Hill, with minimal ticket cost compared to major city venues, giving local audiences a wonderful opportunity to see and hear first-hand world class performers.

“We’re holding our own with maintaining this standard of quality,” he said.

“Our membership, or subscribers, are largely on the elderly side.

“The fact that they can have high-quality music in this lovely Town Hall of ours without the arduous effort of having to go into town and travel there, and for reasonably inexpensive cost they get a really international-quality concert.

“There’s a community of music lovers here.”

Maintaining connections off stage was important too.

Geoffrey said he was part of a wonderful committee at Hunters Hill Music.

“The team work very hard to create a community effect at interval where people can stop and talk and have scones and jam with tea and coffee.

“That’s an important aspect. It’s a community effort.

“We think we do an important thing in the community.

“I think that’s a feature of Hunters Hill. It’s a small but very close community.”

 

Help us to shine a light on other unsung Hunters Hill Heroes by nominating your hero today.

Please note that nominations for Hunters Hill Heroes will be considered for Citizen of the Year awards.

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Hunter’s Hill Council

22 Alexandra Street, Hunters Hill NSW 2110
PO Box 21, Hunters Hill NSW 2110
Tel: (02) 9879 9400

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