In 2001, the QYO Big Band had just finished its second tour to regional North Queensland. As part of the partnership between Comalco and Bundaberg Sugar, the band was formed to entertain audiences in Weipa, Mapoon, Arakun, Babinda, Mareeba and Atherton. The band formed incredible bonds and musical friendships that are still cherished to this day. Although the band was not considered an official part of QYO and could not yet afford a conductor to run the band, the students were adamant that the band would continue to rehearse and serve QYO where and when it could. The band organised (without social media) a time to rehearse and without fail, the students all agreed on a time but the venue was still to be decided. Being a Big Band, rehearsal at home was not an option with limited space, and, as we were all students, we could not draw upon the our alma mater. Thankfully, The Old Museum was available and QYO was generous enough to schedule a rehearsal each week in Studio 2. The band begged and borrowed music to rehearse and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s musical company. Two years later, in 2003, QYO was given permission to play as part of the all groups ‘Finale’ concert at QPAC cementing their place as part of the QYO ensembles. If it were not for the dedication of those students and the availability and generosity of QYO to provide the Big Band with The Old Museum as a rehearsal venue, we would not have had a platform for some of Australia’s finest young musicians to grow and develop in the Big Band idiom. Since formally existing as part of the QYO organisation, the Big Band has performed with James Morrison, Tom Burlinson, Andy Firth and Naomi Price. Amongst the students that have benefited from the Big Band program are Adelina Martinez (James Morrison Scholarship winner and current singer with James Morrison as a direct result of a performance with James Morrison), Dave Khafagi (Principle Trumpet ASO), Ben Beavis (Band of the Grenadier Guards), Lt David Coit (Officer in Charge of the Australian Navy Band Melbourne) and countless other performers and educators around Australia and the world. Thank you, The Old Museum.
I’ve always loved the architecture of the old building. I recall the hanging dinosaur and the exhibits—snakes and lizards in jars—and the skeletons.
I was visiting in the 1970s. I lived out west—Roma—and each year we’d come to the Ekka for a few days, and then to grandma’s at Redcliffe for a few days. I’d see the beautiful old building on the corner. It was terrible to see it neglected—there were ten years of disrepair—I remember it had broken windows. It picked up when the orchestra came.
A note from the editor: Richard Kennedy told this story to Margie Barram at the Australian Garden History Society display at the Ekka.
I came to an evening concert, given by the youth orchestra, with my husband and eldest son. My son instigated the outing. He was very into music, particularly brass bands. He plays cornet and trumpet, and is interested in sax. He’s in the UK at the moment and just joined a local brass band. My husband came, not just for the concert, but because he’s into organs, and was very impressed with the organ here. The original one went to City Hall, and this is the “new” one. He’s also an architect (now retired) so was really in his element in the old building. This concert would have taken place in the 2000s, and in winter—I remember we wore our coats to it.
A note from the editor: Sheena DeJager Miles told this story to Margie Barram at the Australian Garden History Society display at the Ekka.