2013 Wrap-up

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AT the end of another year, Mandolins in Brisbane has started turning its attention to the next.

The group said goodbye to 2013 with an `East meets West’-themed concert at Maleny on the Sunshine Coast on December 1. After days of rain, the weather turned on the charm and greeted players with blue skies, sunshine and a great turnout. The program included traditional Japanese pieces, Spanish dances and showcased the brilliance of local soloists Sue Flower on mandolin, Daniel Tipping on viola, a duet featuring Joel Woods on guitar and Willi Green on mandolin as well as guitarist Ian Ahles. Mandolins in Brisbane will celebrate at its Christmas Party later this month before taking a break over the festive season.

The year has brought with it many successes and some changes, too. This year saw our executive change for a second time with the re-election of new president Murray Green, who returns to the position, new secretary Brooke Baskin and Treasurer Doug Milne. The new executive has reinvigorated Mandolins in Brisbane during the second half of 2013 (as it finds its feet) and with the help of fresh ideas from members and the committee, has been busily planning a new and exciting concert program for 2014. Although it is still early days, Mandolins in Brisbane has already locked down an exciting Asian-themed program for Chinese New Year in February and an Italian-themed series in June. There are also plans afoot to present a fantastic Baroque-themed concert series in April. Other ideas in 2014 include requesting grant funding to record a new CD. New executive member Ian Ahles has started the group’s inaugural composition competition in partnership with Griffith University’s Conservatorium of Music. This exciting new direction will begin in April with entrants encouraged to score a work for mandolin ensemble. The winning entry will win a monetary prize and Mandolins in Brisbane will play the work. What a great way to seek out new mandolin music and build some thrilling new partnerships with local composers! It’s a great initiative and promises to bring something extra to the New Year.

Mandolins in Brisbane continues to operate two mandolin ensembles; the advanced playing group was renamed the Queensland Mandolin Ensemble and the intermediate group Brisbane Mandolins. The model has proved quite successful as it allows beginner players to have somewhere to progress to as their musicianship develops and improves.

Mandolins in Brisbane saw the departure of long-time conductor Nathan Aspinall in 2013, who lead the group on an extraordinary musical adventure over the past five years. He left to pursue his ongoing studies as a conductor, much to the group’s sadness following the Jephtha concert. Nathan remains a dear friend of the group and is always welcome. Mandolins in Brisbane remains in steady hands under the leadership of new conductor Joel Woods, who is already plotting and scheming a really fantastic music program that will both challenge the players and provide the audience with something delightful to behold! Joel is a very talented classical guitarist in his own right with a Masters in music studies.

This year saw Mandolins in Brisbane players undertake a weekend-long mandolin workshop under Stephen Lalor in October. The event was well-attended and an opportunity for members to learn new techniques on their instruments (such as the sometimes-dreaded tremolo!), chord progressions and even some Bluegrass. Stephen was patient and friendly, especially with the beginner players who attended from local schools. Mandolins in Brisbane would like to thank him so much for his time and effort.