Well over one hundred members and friends filled the Callaway Music Auditorium in the UWA School of Music on Sunday 24 July for a gala celebration of the thirtieth anniversary of The Richard Wagner Society of Western Australia.
Following a welcome from immediate Past President John Meyer, a greeting was read from Horst Eggers, the President of the Richard Wagner Verband International (RWVI), the international association of Wagner societies. His message read, in part: ‘As President of the RWVI whose member you are, I congratulate you on behalf of the RWVI and personally on your 30-years jubilee and your successful history…The RWVI and I personally wish your society further successful development. Our best wishes will accompany you in your meritorious work’.
The audience then enjoyed a performance of the final scene of Act I of Die Walküre (from ‘Winterstürme’ to the end of the act), wonderfully sung by Harriet O’Shannessy as Sieglinde and Jun Zhang as Siegmund, with Christopher van Tuinen bravely stepping in at short notice to skilfully play the orchestral part on the Steinway piano.
As both a foundation member and honorary life member, as well as a frequent speaker at our meetings, Dr Sally Kester was well placed to provide an entertaining and enlightening account of the early days of the Society. She drew upon her own experience as well as quoting from A Backward Glance, the history of the Society’s first twenty years which was written by another life member, Chris Fyfe.
The Society's activities began a little earlier than usual this year, so that we could take advantage of the presence in Perth in February of Heath Lees, one of our favourite visitors. As usual we had an entertaining as well as informative illustrated presentation from Heath, on the topic of The Ups and Downs of Wagner on Film. After sketching the various approaches that film makers have taken to the subject of Wagner since he was first depicted on silent film in 1913 by the German film pioneer and director Carl Froelich, Heath gave some illuminating insights into some of the challenges and joys that he had in making his own four-part series of DVDs entitled Wagner's Ring: A Tale Told in Music. He brought some copies of the set and found some eager customers, and as well we appreciated the fact that he offered a set to be used as a door prize.
It was good to see so many existing members, as well as some new ones - to whom we bid a very warm welcome – at our first Wagner Society evening for 2013. We started by disposing relatively quickly with the formalities of the annual general meeting.Although he could not be present on the night, we were happy to be able to re-appoint Michael Murphy to the position of Treasurer and we thank him for keeping our deficit for last year to a miniscule amount.
In the light of the extra spending incurred on special projects associated with the Bicentenary year, this was a great result. Annie Patrick and Allison Fyfe were elected to the Committee, the latter for the first time, while Sarah Livingstone (Secretary), Andrew Hadfield and Leon Robinson continue for the second year of their current two-year terms. Special thanks were expressed to Brenda Pullan, who has stepped down from the Committee and from her role as supper co- ordinator for the past nine years. Brenda has done a wonderful job with the suppers during that time, and the Committee is delighted that Allison has since volunteered to take over this role for the time being. But she needs support, so please see Allison if you are able to assist in the provision of food for our suppers, which form an important part of our evenings’ proceedings.
Last October the Society held a very successful seminar presented by our honorary life member, Dr Sally Kester, in preparation for the Melbourne Ring, with the Tunley Lecture Theatre well filled by members and friends. Eschewing any sort of visual aids, Sally held the audience spellbound for several hours through the force of her vivid and lucid presentation, which featured extensive quotations from Andrew Porter’s English translation of the text, along with excerpts from Herbert von Karajan’s complete recording (with Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau as Wotan).
Sally began by observing that The Ring is much more about power than love, with only about one-ninth of the whole cycle concerned with the latter, and even less of Götterdämmerung - approximately one-twelfth. Her examination of these two apparent opposites concentrated on the central character of the tetralogy - Wotan. As chief of the gods, Wotan is in fact the one primarily responsible for their destruction, through his particular actions at significant points in the drama.
Sally Kester, Simone Young, Torsten Ketelsen (Honorary Consul for the Federal Republic of Germany)
and John Meyer at the 30th Anniversary Gala
(Image courtesy of Torsten Ketelsen).
Facade to the State Theatre, Victorian Arts Centre, Melbourne during The Ring Cycle Festival.