Music Notes – Week 7 Term 4

Barbreck Recitals

Our final Barbreck Recital for soloists was held on Thursday 10 November in the Ballroom in Sherren House. We had a delightful concert with students ranging from Prep to Year 6, featuring vocalists, pianists and violinists. At one of the busiest times of the year, it was extremely encouraging to see so many of our girls willing to participate and have a piece to perform.

These performance opportunities are more informal than our assembly performances, however, this does not automatically change the concerns of our performers. Pressure and nerves associated with playing a solo are completely normal, no matter where you play or the type of audience you have.

I applaud any student who can make mistakes like playing out of tune, forgetting words or losing their place and still persevere until the end. It shows tenacity and maturity, much like a long distance runner who falls before the finish line but gets up and keeps going.

All of our performers should be extremely proud of their efforts. It clearly demonstrates their commitment and discipline in their practice, and an attitude that will undoubtedly lead them all to the next level in their musical journey.

Mrs Lisa Cook
Music Teacher
Years 7 and 8 Performances

Tuesday 8 November saw a small, but dedicated, group of Years 7 and 8 girls perform in the Myer Studio from 3.45pm until approximately 4.30pm. As always, the informal atmosphere allowed the girls to perform to the best of their abilities. I always admire our students who complete a big day at School and then change their mindset immediately to become a performer.

My sincere congratulations to the following girls: Elodie Ferrali (Year 7), Lucy Motteram (Year 8), Penelope Pick (Year 8), Emma Robertson (Year 8) and Georgina Vote (Year 7) Violin Group, Sophie Hogan (violin solo) Year 8, Molly Robertson (viola) Year 7, Julia Thompson (flute) Year 8, Amelia Sun (cello solo) Year 8, Allegra Dennison and Charlotte Stern (clarinet duet) Year 7, Catherine Liu (oboe and piano solos) Year 8, Emily Ryan (viola solo) Year 7, Anita Yang (cello solo) Year 7 and Catherine Liu Year 8 and Olivia Soong Zi Yuan Year 9 (piano duet).

Many thanks also to Ms Sandra Bremmers and Mr Tim Collins for all of their hard work with the program and organisation of the accompanists.

Years 5 and 6 Performance at Victoria School Music Festival

The Barbreck bands (Year 5 Band and Year 6 Band) performed admirably at the Victoria Schools Music Festival on Wednesday 16 November. This part of the Festival was performed at Deakin Edge from 10.00am and the girls loved performing in this beautiful venue. Thanks again for the extremely hard work of Mr Tim Collins and the total support of the Barbreck Staff to ensure that this event was a success.

Old Girl – Mars McMillan (’61)

St Catherine’s harpsichord was crafted by Old Girl Mars McMillan (’61) and has been enjoyed by students since the early 1990s

Our Archivist Ms Melissa Campbell recently showed me an obituary for one of our Old Girls, Mars Prudence McMillan (61), who attended the School from 1949 to 1961.

Mars Prudens
11th October 2016,
after a short illness.

Eldest daughter of Prue
and Barrie. Beloved sister
of Jim and Es. Beloved and admired friend of
everyone who knew her.

Mars was the person who built our harpsichord and I thought that it was worth delving a little more into the remarkable achievements of one of our musical Old Girls. I found a Master’s thesis by Ann Orriss Blore which afforded this information:

Mars developed an interest in harpsichords while still at school after hearing a harpsichord on a recording of Mozart. Mars worked closely with her colleague, Alistair McAllister. Together they founded Harpsichord Makers of Melbourne in 1967, in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Clifton Hill. Mars owned the workshop. They built their first instruments inspired only by recordings and published material, without having travelled overseas to hear first-hand the historical instruments, or undertaking any type of apprenticeship in the craft. McMillan later described these harpsichords as the ‘Melbourne Sound’. Mars worked slowly as each instrument was handcrafted. By 1974, she had completed fourteen instruments. Apart from our own at St Catherine’s School she supplied instruments to the Sydney Opera House, The Adelaide Teachers’ College, The University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney. She also supplied instruments to other schools, including Camberwell Grammar School and Methodist Ladies’ College in Melbourne.

Our Archivist is aware that the Music Auxiliary purchased the instrument for the School, and that three harpsichords by McMillan were played in the Gala Concert of 1994.

McMillan was quoted in the previously mentioned thesis:

Thanks to Raymond Russell’s book The Harpsichord and Clavichord, I had started

the sawing and planing in my parents’ garage and making those mistakes that teach

you heaps! I couldn’t decide whether to make a Flemish virginal or an Italian single

… I immediately abandoned construction on both attempts (and avoided going down

‘the wrong path’) when Hubbard’s ‘bible’ came along in 1965 with the revelation that

historical harpsichords had fairly minimal framing inside a lightly built ‘sound-box’,

like violins, and were never built without a ‘bottom’ to the case. It wasn’t until I had

been flailing around in the workshop for some time, that I mentioned to Leonard

Fullard that I was ‘making a harpsichord’, and he said: ‘but it won’t be as good as a

Dolmetsch! Well, that DID IT!! All the motivation I needed.

That sounds like a St Catherine’s girl to me!

2017 Performing Arts Handbook

The 2017 Performing Arts Handbook is now available at mystcatherines. This Handbook includes a great deal of important information including the schedule of fees for 2017 and enrolment and cancellation policies. I encourage all students and parents involved in the Performing Arts for 2017 to read through the Handbook.

Please feel free to contact the Music Administrator on 9828 3014 or email with any queries.

Dates – Term 4
  • PFA Christmas Party – Friday 18 November – tonight!
  • Years 7 and 8 Awards Assembly – Monday 28 November – Dorothy Pizzey Hall
  • House Arts Performance – Tuesday 6 December – Dorothy Pizzey Hall
  • Senior School Carol Service – Wednesday 7 December – Toorak Uniting Church
Mrs Jenny Mathers Head of Music