Reflections – 29th July 2018

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Northern Rivers Symphony Orchestra, we turn our attention to Lyn McBurney, the person who was there from the very first NRSO performance until now.  Lyn continues to be the linchpin of the orchestra, performing her multiple crucial roles as the orchestra manager, dedicated committee member and accomplished musician.  Here we ask Lyn some questions about her time with the NRSO.

Q: You have been part of the NRSO right from the start, 25 years ago.  Could you please tell us what your involvement was at the beginning, and how did it evolve to your current position as the orchestra manager now?

A: Mr Barry Singh formed the NRSO as conductor and asked eighteen local musicians to play, consisting of people from Murwillumbah and Lismore. I played in the second violin section in the very first concert and have been playing in the same section ever since. About three years after the orchestra started I was elected President of the NRSO committee and also attended to the catering for the musicians and audience. I remained doing these tasks until the Orchestra Manager left after ten years and Barry Singh asked me to take on the Orchestra Managers position which I have continued to do for the last thirteen years.

Q: You’re also a violinist in the orchestra.  How did your music career begin and what other instruments do you play?

A: I came from a musical family. My Grandfather played violin in an orchestra and my Father also played violin and my Mother and siblings played other instruments and we had many musical evenings with others in the community and in our home. I play a bit of piano and guitar and had three years singing training with William Pringle. I have sung at many Weddings and public functions over the years. I started learning violin as an adult with violin teacher Essie Hawken and had weekly lessons for seven years. I was invited to play in a Theatre Orchestra in High School musical productions which gave me grounding in orchestral playing.

During my working life as a Diversional Therapist at various Aged Care facilities, music was an important part of my work and playing the piano and guitar were very useful in that line of work.

Q: What do you have to do as the orchestra manager for the NRSO?

A: I contact various musicians to form the orchestra for each concert and organise the rehearsals and performances and ensure the musicians get their music to practice beforehand. The musicians come from Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba, Gold Coast, Tweed District and Lismore District. I post the music to the musicians so they can practice at home before they come to the major rehearsals.

I also liaise with the various conductors helping to organise programs for each concert. Other duties include helping to set up the orchestra for a concert and organising printing of posters, flyers and programs and committee meetings and attend to some secretarial work.

Q: Please tell us about some of the most memorable NRSO concerts for you, and why they were special.

A: One of the most memorable performances was  the whole of Swan Lake at Seagulls Leagues Club with full orchestra and the Gold Coast City Ballet. It was special because it was a big production with a lot of rehearsals and the orchestra had to play exactly the right speed for the ballet dancers. Tchaikovsky wrote the most marvellous music which is challenging but very enjoyable to play. The dancers and scenery on stage were beautiful, it was a very lovely production. Other memorable occasions were the two Australian Story concerts the ABC did with NRSO featuring Conductor Barry Singh, held at QPAC in Brisbane. Concerts held at Gold Coast Arts Centre and Seagulls Leagues Club where we performed some Strauss concerts with Ballroom dancers and Ballet dancers.

NRSO has performed with many wonderful soloists over the years and currently holds concerts in Tweed Heads Civic Centre.

Q: What is your favourite piece of  classical music, and has the NRSO played it?

A: I really like the New World Symphony by Antonin Dvorak and have played it with the NRSO three times over the years.