Here is an Aussie yarn that's being shared around eastern Australia, Around tho world, musicians who hear the story huddle in laughter over their guitar center.com guitar sheet music and smile in admiration at the fortitude of fellow performers.
As the forty-five member Lismore Symphony Orchestra tuned up in the orchestra pit for their rehearsal concert, a storm front grew in strength across large areas of the country that would bring havoc to wide sections of east coast Australia, from Tasmania in the south, through to Queensland in the north.
It seemed a little unfair. While the fate of a millionaire's swimming pool, that ended up tipped onto a NSW beach, has been given attention in the news, the plight of the rural people of Tasmania, who often feel as if they are the forgotten state, hardly rated a mention in the press in mainland Australia. The last time I checked the damages from that storm on the Tasmanian coast, is around two-hundred million dollars.
Meanwhile, in Lismore, where gale force winds and torrential rains lashed the rural community in the Northern Rivers district. The storm-water drains could not cope with the sub-tropical delude; they overflowed. flash flood poured through the town—and the orchestra played on.
I have witnessed occasions such as this where rural communities turn up for a long-anticipated annual event in defiance of nature. In Winton, QLD, when the showground became a lake, the simply re-erected the Ferris wheel in the middle of the main road. Nothing will stop communing spirit as long as the outer walls hold—and the orchestra played on.
The tidal rivers reached heavy flood level and many low-lying areas along the coastal hinterland submerged beneath the spreading flood—and the orchestra played on.
Along the coast, the storm front, which on its own would have produced a monster king tide, coincided with a deep atmospheric low coming in from the Pacific ocean, all along the Australian east coast. This sounds to me as if it would make a great scene set up for an action adventure novel, and the Lismore symphony orchestra played on.
The orchestra members gathered once more, to perform the Sunday afternoon concert. By this time, the coastal flooding was widespread, yet everyone made it through.
A fire drill interrupted the performance, with shrill alarms, accompanied by a recording of: "Evacuate! Leave the building. Now!" Musicians gathered up their instruments, many forgetting their other valuables until they were outside huddled over those instruments trying to protect them from the rain.
The fire department who attended discovered that it had been a false alarm. Steam coming from the hot water urn had triggered the fire alarm in the room beneath the stage.
The determined orchestra members returned to their rehearsal.
One-hundred and twenty people attended the evening concert. It was a challenging program of Handel, Morricone, Vaughan Williams, Respighi, Verdi, Ravel, and Rimsky-Korsakov; with a joy-filled encore of Johann Strauss' Radetzky March complete with audience involvement. The claps and cheers were for both the musical performance and the fantastic determination of the orchestra to carry on—to play on—despite all the challenges that had been thrown at them.
Fortunately, by Sunday afternoon, the weather improved. A repeat performance was held, and two-hundred, and fifty people attended.
This article is inspired by information shared by residents of Lismore.
James Harvey is principal tuba with the Lismore Symphony Orchestra, Northern Rivers Symphony Orchestra, Queensland Wind Orchestra and a founder of Summerland Brass. He is a Higher Degree Research candidate at Griffith University Queensland Conservatorium doing Performance Led, Community Music research thesis: "Elder Music, Instrumental Music Performance and Affirmative Aging".
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