Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

George Johnston and His Orchestra

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

George Johnston and His Orchestra

Article excerpt

Byline: LOCAL HISTORY margaret henderson

LOCAL newspapers are always telling us how the arts flourish in this area. This is certainly the case as regards music, and apparently has been from the very beginning of settlement in this region.

Possibly because of the isolation and the need to entertain each other at a family or community level, all kinds of music were performed - classical and some not so classical.

There were those who played a tin whistle, a fiddle, an accordion, or even a gum leaf!

Groups were formed and anyone with a fair or good voice was asked to perform as a soloist. Group singing was natural to those who had come from countries which delighted in choral or church music.

Later settlers brought sheet music, while others brought more expensive instruments which they had played in bands or even orchestras: flutes, trumpets, harps, bagpipes.

With the building of churches and the introduction of regular church services, congregations usually purchased a small organ. Improved economic conditions also meant that more families were able to afford a piano, or even an organ, and children were encouraged to learn to play these. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries there was a great demand for pianos, some of which were built in Australia.

Town bands had always been popular and some became military bands, accompanying the local militia when they were on parade.

Orchestras and philharmonic societies were formed in the larger towns and festival societies were established not only to encourage talent, but also to instruct and educate.

With the advent of the wireless and the gramophone, new forms of music were introduced. Ballroom dancing and jazz music became crazes. Most villages had a community hall, or at least a large barn, where dances could be held. Weekly events were held locally with a pianist, sometimes helped by a fiddle player, to provide the music.

Dance bands began to spring up everywhere as more and more people joined in the fun and learnt to play instruments. …

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