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Orchestra stalls on Shepparton visit

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra will not tour Shepparton this year for the first time since at least 1989.

JOHN LEWIS March 20, 2014 5:56am

Feeling deprived: Retired Shepparton academic John Lawry is disappointed the Melbourne Symphony is not coming to Shepparton this year.


Shepparton orchestral music lovers feel disappointed and deprived after Melbourne Symphony Orchestra confirmed it would not be visiting the city this year.

The orchestra has been forced to reduce its regional performances this year following the decision of its tour sponsor Powercor to cut funding.

The orchestra has confirmed it will perform in part or in full at Warragul, Frankston, Wangaratta, Warnambool, Hamilton and Bendigo this year, but not Shepparton.

Retired Shepparton academic John Lawry said the MSO’s annual performances at Eastbank had played a valuable role in the cultural life of the area.

‘‘We do feel deprived,’’ Mr Lawry said.

‘‘It’s an important part of the culture, particularly for the youth of Shepparton. It develops an awareness and understanding of orchestral music.’’

Goulburn Valley Concert Orchestra founder and director Wendy Oakes said she was disappointed with the news.

‘‘I know a lot of our orchestra members and students around the area look forward to the concerts. It’s inspirational really. It’s a tradition for local musicians and lovers of orchestral music,’’ Mrs Oakes said.

Mr Lawry said the MSO had been coming to Shepparton every year since at least 1989, when he and his wife Margaret returned to the city to live.

An MSO spokeswoman said the orchestra remained committed to regional tours, despite a loss of funding.

‘‘It is one of the MSO’s core missions to reach as many people as possible through its regional touring program,’’ the spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman said the orchestra did investigate taking a brass ensemble to Shepparton this year.

‘‘But we were unable to find a date which suited both the orchestra and the venue,’’ she said.

She said the orchestra was investigating options for a new regional touring sponsorship partner for next year and beyond.

Greater Shepparton City Council director of community Kaye Thomson said the loss of the orchestra’s performance was disappointing.

‘‘ Riverlinks is very disappointed to lose this part of our season, especially the engagement with younger people,’’ Ms Thomson said.

‘‘Many children experienced classical music for the first time through this program.’’

Ms Thomson said Riverlinks would continue its relationship with Orchestra Victoria, Melbourne Chamber Orchestra and Goulburn Valley Concert Orchestra to ensure a strong classical music program.

She said Riverlinks was also planning new links with DeepBlue Orchestra and Victorian Opera.

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