CHANGEOVER: New Clarence Valley Conservatorium director Fiona Scott, left, with retiring director Gaye Harlow on stage at the conservatorium. Photo: Adam Hourigan
CHANGEOVER: New Clarence Valley Conservatorium director Fiona Scott, left, with retiring director Gaye Harlow on stage at the conservatorium. Photo: Adam Hourigan

Gaye is passing on the musical baton

AFTER 20 years working for the Clarence Valley Conservatorium Gaye Harlow is passing the musical baton over to her successor, Fiona Wood.

In the director's chair for the organisation for the past eight years, Gaye in looking forward to doing some travel and sitting back and enjoying next year's concerts as a spectator for a change.

Gaye became almost immediately involved with The Con when she moved to Grafton with her family in 1988.

"I became involved as parent and an adult student in 1989 before becoming a piano and theory teacher there for 12 years before taking on the directorship."

Gaye embraced her role as director by getting straight into it.

"There were big changes at the Con at the time but I was ready to move into the role. It's been challenging but very rewarding work," she said.

Beside meeting lots of lovely people and making good friends, she said being a part of the musical community through education, playing, enjoying performances and working with children had been the highlight.

"Often music and drama students can be on the fringes in their own school environment," Gaye said.

"To see them come here and feel comfortable to express themselves freely in a safe family-like environment is what we are all about. There's nothing more rewarding than seeing students' faces light up."

Other memorable moments for the retiring director were as recent as this year. "The Idea of North vocal group were fantastic, so was having soprano Deborah Cheetham here for a week. That was a massive achievement and a huge learning curve for us."

Acclaimed pianist Simon Tedeschi has also made Gaye swoon and the 2008 student choir tour to Italy and France was another career pinnacle.

"We performed in Paris and Rome. It was a big achievement," she said.

Now deep in the transitional phase showing Fiona the ins and out of running the place, Gaye is looking forward to winding back completely come December.

While it can be daunting taking over an institution like the Clarence Valley Conservatorium, Fiona said she looked forward to the new challenge.

A music teacher at St Andrew's Christian School for the past 15 years, Fiona is keen to continue her work as musical educator working with children.

Gaye said it was an extensive process selecting a new director but with Fiona's educational background and her "calmness" she was the right person for the job.

CVC in 2014

  • THE CVC has secured the next round of tri-annual funding from the Department of Education. "I wanted to make sure this was approved before I left," Gaye said. "It means we can start planning for the next three years now."
  • Further funding was also secured from Arts NSW. That amount of $23,700 means they can go ahead with its 2014 Visiting Arts Concert Series. "We will have five concerts next year. It is not as many as 2013's program but I didn't want to overwhelm the new director in her first year."
  • Artists booked for next year include popular guitar virtuoso Bruce Mathiske, who will be performing a concerto with the local chamber, and Louise Page, a Canberra-based soprano who performs a tribute to Dame Nellie Melba complete with costumes and historical dialogue.


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