The musical highlight of the 1950s was certainly the Three Choirs Festival. This was inspired by the Three Choirs Festival in England (Gloucester, Worcester and Hereford). It was organised mainly by Lionel Sawkins, Music Master, Church of England Grammar School (CEGS or “Churchie” as it was known), East Brisbane.
The three choirs were those of Churchie, St Luke’s Toowoomba and St Andrew’s South Brisbane. It was a great success. An admission charge of five shillings (described as a donation) was charged for the main concert (as opposed to the services), which had never happened before in the parish. The outraged some conservative parishioners, who refused to pay for entrance to their church.
Organ works were an important part of the festival, in between choral items, being played by Lionel Sawkins, Edward Salisbury and the organist of St Luke’s. Noted baritone James Christiansen sang the Five Mystical Songs by Vaughan Williams, to organ accompaniment. (Rodney Wetherell)
Orchestra Service (28 October 1990)
A truly unique service took place on this particular Sunday. A small orchestra, known as the Brisbane Christian Chamber Orchestra, comprising Christian musicians both professional and amateur, combined with Tom Aitken at the organ, St Andrew’s Choir and the Mount Gravatt College of Advanced Education (CAE), to present some glorious music by Handel, Haydn, Mozart and Vaughan Williams.
The rector at that time, Rev John Arnold, preached on the subject of music as one of the great gifts from God, and the uplifting effect music can have on us.
St Andrew’s 125th Anniversary (30 November 2003)
The service to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone of the building was a most uplifting occasion. St Andrew’s Community Orchestra combined with organist Roland Bartkowiak (St Andrew’s organist 1992-1998) and St Andrew’s and Cantamus Choirs to accompany the hymns and to present an original work, “Now Choose Life”, written by Ian McKinley, organist at St Andrew’s from 1962-1975. The conductor was Margaret Powell.
Composer Ian McKinley and Conductor Margaret Powell at the 125th Anniversary service.
Since St Andrew’s Hymnfest (2004) and St Andrew’s Joyfest (2005), both involving the St Andrew’s and Cantamus Choirs, the organ has featured in many concerts at St Andrew’s. Organists Gregory Hartay-Szabo and Andrew Wadley have performed organ solos on these occasions. The Bach Society has also used the organ, with organist Eduarda van Klinken, in many of their concerts at St Andrew’s.
Two memorable concerts in 2006 were Jeffcoat’s Variations, an organ recital by Rev Rupert Jeffcoat, musical director at St John’s Cathedral, and Organ Spectacular with Thomas Heywood, brilliant organist from Melbourne. In both concerts, the audience was able to listen and at the same time watch the action of the organist’s hands and feet projected onto the big screen. This created an incredible experience for all.
Cook’s Mixtures of Musical Delights (2007) presented Christopher Cook as organist with the wind quintet, Woodwind Mixtures. The highlight of this concert was A Bach Concerto in G for organ and wind quintet, an arrangement from the music of JS Bach by Ian McKinley OAM, a former organist and choir master at St Andrew’s. In Celebration Concert (2008) we were privileged to have Christopher Wrench on organ and Paul Rawson on trumpet. ThanksFest (2008) in keeping with the theme of the 130th year, Give Thanks, gave opportunity for the audience to join in the singing of Now thank we all our God with Gregory Hartay-Szabo on organ with Orchestra Corda Spiritus and the combined St Andrew’s and Bach Society Choirs. In HeartFest (2009), the Orchestra Corda Spiritus of St Andrew’s with St Andrew’s Choir in combination with the Bach Society Choir and Eduarda van Klinken on organ, performed 2 Anthems by Ian McKinley OAM – I will sing of the Lord’s Great Love and Now Choose Life. Once again in 2010 the Orchestra Corda Spiritus of St Andrew’s with St Andrew’s Choir and David Jenkin on organ presented Ian McKinley’s The Lord is My Shepherd and JS Bach’s Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.