How WollCon celebrated 50 years of music

WOLLCON turned 50 in 2022 and the community was invited to a year-long party, including a two-day Music Festival in September!

“We are unashamedly using the 50th Birthday as a springboard to showcase everything WollCon contributes to the musical life of the region and how our work delivers positive change through music.  Our 50th Birthday Festival in September will do exactly that, and everyone is invited!”

David Francis

CEO, WollCon

Wollongong Conservatorium of Music had a busy year celebrating its 50th Birthday.
It presented sell out concerts in Wollongong Town Hall celebrating its Jazz and Classical departments.  WollCon also had a band in residence this year – the street music group ‘Hot Potato Band’ who performed with WollCon’s community musicians in the Town Hall and at Botanic Garden for the festival event in September.

The Festival was the centrepiece of the Birthday celebrations, a weekend music festival at WollCon, in Wollongong Botanic Garden.  Free to the public, the weekend was held on 10th and 11th September 2022 and showcased WollCon artists, music staff and guest performers such as drummer and rapper DOBBY who is an alumnus of WollCon.

DOBBY who is of Filipino-Aboriginal heritage performed a set to conclude Saturday afternoon with musicians from the WollCon’s jazz team. The Hot Potato Band headlined Sunday and performed with WollCon’s very own Con Artists.  Steel City Strings presented a ‘Celebration of Youth’ as part of the program, which featured some of WollCon’s highly accomplished music students performing movements from famous concertos.

WollCon’s own Head of Composition John Spence created a celebratory new work for the entire cohort of WollCon’s music staff to perform together in what was an amazing and unique world premiere performance for the organisation’s birthday.

“We’re really looking forward to welcoming the public to WollCon in September for this one-off free to attend music festival.  People can either bring a picnic or treat themselves to great food and coffee whilst enjoying two days of exceptional music performed by musicians from our region – all in the beautiful surrounds of the Botanic Garden.  It’s going to be a real celebration of the talent which exists in the Illawarra.”

David Francis

CEO, WollCon

December Concert at Wollongong Town Hall

WollCon commissioned two other significant works for the 50th Birthday Year.  Celebrated Australian composer, Matthew Hindson, who is an alumnus of WollCon, created a work for BlueScope Youth Orchestra to celebrate the long relationship between WollCon and the steel industry in Wollongong.
That work was premiered in December at Wollongong Town Hall in a concert which also featured a new work by jazz composer and 2019 Freedman Jazz Fellow, Novak Manojlovic.  Wollongong local, Novak, who is also an alumnus of WollCon created a piece for the combined forces of the Jazz Orchestra, BlueScope Youth Orchestra, vocalists from WollCon and guest alumni. (Hear both music pieces).

That performance in December was 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.