It had been quite a while since the full Melbourne Symphony Orchestra had performed in Mildura – close to 25 years.
Despite being a significant Victorian regional centre, the geographic distance between Melbourne and the Mildura is about the furthest it could be while remaining in the same state. Indeed, the South Australian capital, Adelaide, is closer to Mildura than Melbourne. For many years, the significant costs involved in taking a full symphony orchestra – musicians, instruments, music stands, music, wardrobes this far North have proven financially restrictive, and often too challenging to incorporate within the Orchestra’s extremely busy schedule.
This year, thanks to an inspiring mix of funding, the MSO managed to break this “drought”.
A generous 2-year grant from Creative Victoria enabled MSO to begin implementing its expanded regional touring program, and also provided the impetus to being establishing new relationships with philanthropic organisations, individuals and businesses. Successful and generous grants from the Robert Salzer Foundation,Freemasons Foundation Victoria andErica Foundation Pty Ltdhave contributed vital funds for the Orchestra’s regional initiatives, allowing MSO to not only deliver onstage performances, but to deepen its involvement and contribution to each regional centre’s existing arts community, via workshops, masterclasses, side-by-side community orchestra sessions and PD sessions for classroom teachers.
The increased costs associated with performing in Mildura necessitated additional funding. Having a staff member within the MSO’s Philanthropy team who grew up in Mildura proved advantageous. Not wanting Mildura to ‘miss out’ again on being able to access world-class symphonic music, her local knowledge of the area, schools, music teachers and community stakeholders, and personal connection to the project meant she knew exactly who to approach. In particular; chef and local businessman,Stefano De Pieri, who is well-known for his love of music, the arts, and his adopted town of Mildura.
Thanks to Stefano’s passionate advocacy for a thriving local arts landscape, MSO was introduced to several local businesses -Tasco Petroleum, NewU Mildura and Duxton Vineyards – who all donated to MSO specifically for activities in Mildura. This, together with on-the-ground advocacy and in-kind support from local magazine,Mildura Living,Stefano’s Cafe and theMildura Performing Arts Centre, enabled MSO to bring a string quartet performance to Mildura for a free cultivation event in April, ahead of the full orchestra’s performance in June, with the esteemed German violinist, Kolja Blacher as soloist/director. The positive response from the community was overwhelming, resulting in a sell-out performance with a wait list for tickets on the night, and a resounding demand for MSO to have an ongoing presence in the region.