An exciting 50th Birthday year ahead @ WollCon

WollCon unveils plans for its 50th Birthday year, as well as a new brand and website.
2022 is a significant milestone for WollCon – its 50 this year.

The Conservatorium has some exciting plans to celebrate its birthday including a festival weekend in September which will feature WollCon’s musicians, music staff as well as guest artists and specially commissioned new works.

The 50th Birthday year is kicking off with a whole new look for the Conservatorium and a new website both of which have been developed by a local designer.

“We are unashamedly using the 50th Birthday as a springboard to talk about everything WollCon contributes to the musical life of the region and how our work delivers positive change through music. The new website beautifully reflects the range of experiences people of all ages have when learning and participating in music activities at WollCon. It also celebrates our esteemed alumni and it’s wonderful to see their stories illustrating WollCon’s impact”

David Francis

CEO, WollCon

However, WollCon’s plans extend far beyond a new look and website. In order to celebrate its 50th birthday WollCon has planned a year-long program of events to showcase its activities. Both The Jazz Program and BlueScope Youth Orchestra will host performances in Wollongong Town Hall to celebrate their work. They will be joined by alumni and will perform alongside guest artists such as celebrated pianist Caroline Almonte, who will play a Mozart piano concerto with BlueScope Youth Orchestra in July.

The centrepiece of the Birthday celebrations will be a weekend music festival at WollCon, in Wollongong Botanic Garden. Free to the public, the weekend – to be held on 10th and 11th September 2022 – will showcase WollCon artists, music staff and guest performers such as Sydney’s Hot Potato Band who are ‘resident’ throughout the year with WollCon’s the Con Artists. Steel City Strings will present a ‘Celebration of Youth’ as part of the program, which features some of WollCon’s highly accomplished music students. WollCon’s own Head of Composition John Spence will create a work for all WollCon music staff to perform together, in what will prove to be an amazing and unique world premiere performance.

The Conservatorium is also commissioning two other significant works for the 50th Birthday Year. Celebrated Australian composer, Matthew Hindson, who is an alumni of the Conservatorium, will be writing a work for BlueScope Youth Orchestra to celebrate the long relationship between WollCon and the steel industry in Wollongong. That work will be premiered in December at Wollongong Town Hall in a concert which will also feature a new work by jazz composer and 2019 Freedman Jazz Fellow, Novak Manojlovic. Wollongong local, Novak, who is also an alumni of WollCon will be writing for the combined forces of the Jazz Orchestra, BlueScope Youth Orchestra, vocalists from the Conservatorium and guest alumni. That performance in December will be rounded off with an after-show party featuring the Con Artists and other community ensembles in collaboration with the Hot Potato Band – so a lot of vibrant street music to bring the birthday celebrations to a close.

WollCon has received funding from Create NSW to support the Hot Potato Band’s year-long residency and has also been awarded a Plus 1 grant from Creative Partnerships Australia. The Plus 1 grant will match every dollar donated to the Conservatorium.

We are grateful that the 50th Birthday year celebrations have been supported by our core funders, the Department of Education as well as grants from Create NSW and Creative Partnerships. Our community can also play its part by making donations to WollCon to support our future, in the knowledge that the Plus 1 program will match, dollar for dollar, every donation made. In light of the Plus 1 funding we are launching a fundraising campaign with the aim of raising $15,000 to support our work this year and into the future.”

David Francis

“With music education being further marginalised in schools, the work of the Conservatorium to bring music to our young people across the region is essential. We continue to provide a band program, early childhood music and classroom music teaching across 20 schools in the region. In fact, we have just engaged two full-time music teachers to bring music to the heart of our schools and to influence how schools regard music within their programs.”

WollCon is continuing to expand its program with a new Junior String Program, led by string teacher and viola player Adrian Davis and a new Children’s Choir lead by Kate Whitworth – which will start May, COVID restrictions allowing. WollCon also has plans for holiday programs starting with a Band Camp for junior wind players.

To coincide with WollCon’s 50th Birthday, Yesterday’s Stories have created a short-film capturing the history of WollCon to date which can be viewed on WollCon’s new website here.