26 April 2023

Keyed up: RCM's free lunchtime concerts are back for autumn

| Chris Roe
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man at piano

RCM CEO Hamish Tait will perform the first of 10 lunchtime concerts. Photo: Supplied.

As well as juggling kids, Hamish Tait has been busy tickling the ivories in preparation for the first of this year’s lunchtime concerts by the Riverina Conservatorium of Music.

The RCM’s CEO will perform the first of 10 concerts being held over the coming weeks at venues around the Wagga LGA.

“We commenced these over a decade ago now as a kind of autumn festival of really good-quality music performed by professional musicians and senior students,” Hamish explained.

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“The idea was to do them as free lunchtime concerts during the day, and we initially did have some funding for them, but since then we’ve continued funding them ourselves because we see it as just a vital part of the conservatorium’s community engagement.

“We’ve featured some major performers, from internationally renowned people all the way through to some of our scholarship students and local performers as well.”

Many of this year’s performers are from RCM’s exceptional roster of teachers.

“We aim to achieve 100 per cent of our teaching staff engaging in some form of professional music performance and because the lunchtime concerts are shorter, it’s more achievable to rehearse for,” Hamish said, adding that it was also important for him to be involved.

man in auditorium

Hamish Tait will perform on piano in the new conservatorium’s R1 Room. Photo: Chris Roe.

Hamish will perform the first concert this Thursday in the spectacular R1 Room at the new Riverina Conservatorium of Music building in Simmons Street.

“In my job, it’s very hard to keep playing and to balance being a full-time director, trying to be a pianist and a teacher, and I also have a family of five kids, so finding practice time is challenging,” he said.

“But actually being able to get out there and doing some concerts myself is a lot of fun.”

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And every year, the community responds in kind with hundreds attending the autumn events in community halls, churches and at the RCM.

“What we found was that there was this sort of magic formula with Thursday afternoons, around lunchtime,” he said.

“We’ve had an average audience of around 100 people for the concerts and for this type of music, that’s a good crowd wherever you are.

“Whether you’d be in London or Sydney or Wagga Wagga, 100 people turning up to a lunchtime concert of classical music is a fantastic audience.”

While he still has some practice to squeeze in, Hamish is looking forward to the concerts.

“It’s one of my favourite times of the year and Wagga is blessed with some beautiful locations,” he said.

“The churches that we’ve performed in are just lovely, we’ve got our new performance venues at the Con, which we’re just so excited about using, and some great little village performance spaces.

“It’s a very rich community in that regard and we’re very blessed to be able to produce and hold these concerts using almost exclusively local resources, and that’s just something we’re incredibly proud of.”

For a full program of events, visit the Riverina Conservatorium of Music’s What’s On page.

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