North Coast Performing Arts Association

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Karen Wright, Publicity Officer for the North Coast Performing Arts Association, explains why our region is very fortunate to be home to this special not-for-profit organisation, as it brings young and old together to perform orchestral, choral and dance pieces of a calibre not usually seen outside the major cities …

What exactly is the North Coast Performing Arts Association? 

The talented, entertaining and amazing North Coast Performing Arts Association is a not-for-profit organisation. We are the only large scale orchestra and choir organisation that is based in and performing in the North Coast region.  We perform orchestral and choral music of the highest standard to large scale public audiences for all musicians of competent ability, regardless of age.

Originally formed in the late 1990s by David Slater and Sue Taylor, the group was called ‘Camerata’ , but in 2002 the name was changed to The North Coast Performing Arts Association.

The NCPAA was formed to bring music normally only heard in the city to this area – an outlet for talented singers and instrumentalists who love performing the big works by composers such as Schubert, Mozart, Verdi and Puccini.

The first conductor for choir and orchestra was the very well-known and respected music teacher, Margaret England. Margaret still teaches today at the Coffs Harbour Regional Conservatorium.

From time to time we also provide workshops under specialist tutors and sometimes combine with regional performing arts groups for performances, including specialised dance and ballet. Performances are held in Sawtell, Bellingen and Grafton twice a year.

How many people are currently members of the Association, and what is their age range?

The orchestra and choir consist of some 75 members. Our age range is quite diverse, ranging from as young as 12 years old to two members in the choir in their 80s.

Although we are an amateur organisation, we are very privileged to have several professional musicians in our group. The orchestra and choir are led by two extremely highly qualified and experienced musicians: Gergely Malyusa (Conductor) and Alice Jamison (Choral Director).

This year we are privileged to welcome David Matthews (Concertmaster) and his wife, Sarah Matthews (Principal Cellist). Several well-respected soloists have performed in past years.

MEI WEI LIM and RENATE TURRINI received a standing ovation with cheering from the audience, when both talented and amazing concert pianists stunned the audience playing simultaneously with the orchestra in The Carnival of the Animals.

One of our main objectives is to encourage and support younger musicians to join, particularly school students. For these young musicians, the NCPAA gives opportunities to play and sing alongside experienced musicians, some of whom are ex professional musicians.

This opportunity is invaluable. The NCPCPAA has supported these young developing musicians, giving them the opportunity to perform as soloists. Some of these individuals were Luke Wright, Rebecca Dutson and Edward Condon.

Is dance an art form that is also welcomed by the NCPAA?

Originally the NCPAA was formed as a choir and orchestra to perform choral and orchestral classical music. Throughout our past 10 years, we have welcomed many other art forms in our group, including dance. It is our wish that we are inclusive of the arts, not only singers and musicians, and we are working on including different areas of the arts for future concerts.

What performance experience does the Association cater for … is experience necessary to join?

All singers and instrumentalists are welcome, as we are keen to build up both the choir and orchestra. Age is immaterial, as we are part of a team. We offer members a unique opportunity to rehearse and perform to the general public under the direction of our highly qualified and experienced musical directors, while having fun.

How often do members of the Association meet?

The choir and orchestra rehearse once a fortnight in the Casuarina Steiner School at 4 Gentle Street, Coffs Harbour, 10am to 3pm. The choir also rehearses every Thursday at St John’s Anglican Church Manse meeting room, next to the church, McLean St, Coffs Harbour, 6 – 8 pm.

When and where are Association members holding their next series of concerts?
We are very excited about our forthcoming concerts.

They will be held at: SAWTELL – Sunday 28 October, 2pm, Rainbow Room, Sawtell RSL; BELLINGEN – Sunday 21 October, 2pm, Memorial Hall, Hyde St; GRAFTON – Saturday 20 October, 2pm, Christ Church Cathedral.

What items will be on the program at these concerts?

The choir will perform:

• Robert Schumann: Mass in C minor op.147 for choir and orchestra

The orchestra will perform:

• Richard Charlton: Concertino for Trombone, Strings and Timpani
• Ludwig van Beethoven: Romance for Violin and Orchestra in F op.50

• Gabriel Fauré: Elegy for Cello and Orchestra op.24

• Maurice Ravel: Pavane for a Dead Princess

What benefit will joining the Association bring to new members/performers?

The benefit for joining the NCPAA is immense. For young people, it’s having fun while being able to bring their skills on individual instruments together in group playing; or, as a singer, being able to sing with lots of support from experienced singers. Young people quickly take to the concept of team activity and find belonging to a group other than sport very satisfying.

For older people, it’s making new friends, learning a new skill or the re-honing of a skill neglected. The social aspect is also important, as is the mental stimulation to be found in tackling new work. Often for older members, the memories of happy past times spent in singing or playing together as youngsters encourages them to reconnect in later life.

Where can people purchase tickets for upcoming performances?

Tickets will be available to purchase from various outlets in Grafton, Bellingen, Coffs Harbour and Sawtell. Please see the website for further information.Ticket prices are kept to a minimum, so that members of the public and families can afford to attend.

How you can help us?

Donations of financial support are sought to help fund major performances, so that we can bring beautiful choral and orchestral music for local audiences to enjoy. All donations to NCPAA are tax deductible. By donating, your name will acknowledged as a Friend in the programme for each concert.

Further info:

Secretary: Helen Tucker 6643 3456; Publicity Officer: Karen Wright 0409 846 663 or go to our website:  

Like us on Facebook: The North Coast Performing Arts Association.

Thanks Karen. Interview by Jo Atkins.

This story was published in issue 25 of the Coffs Coast Focus

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