The Westerner

Ian Wells, Mt Mee

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Ian is the chairman of the Mt Mee Hall committee, which hosts regular Symphony on the Mountain concerts from visiting orchestras, musicians and chorale groups.

The idea for the Symphony on the Mountain concert series came … when two local residents, Les Suart and Cathy Croot, who at that time performed with the Cleveland Orchestra, approached us asking if we would consider putting on an orchestral concert. We considered it briefly and said: "the locals will never hang up their gumboots to come and listen to an orchestra. Go away!" But they were persistent and we eventually gave in.

The highlights of this concert … will be the combination of orchestra and choir – a first for us. And they will be belting out things like the "Hallelujah Chorus", "Land of Hope and Glory" and much more, with the stops out and the roof shaking.

My favourite music … is early traditional jazz, which possibly peaked with the Louis Armstrong Hot Five but had many lesser-known great exponents. I also love good jazz piano – Art Tatum, Fats Waller, Earl Hines, Nat Cole and, in a more modern vein, Bill Evans

My own musical background … goes back to playing cello (badly) in the school orchestra, ukelele and tin whistle with my father who played banjo mandolin, clarinet in my student days and then nothing until the 1976 Australian Jazz Convention. I became enamoured with jazz all over again and went out and bought my first banjo. I worked two nights a week on regular gigs for some years and later formed my own group, The Fargo Footwarmers.

The highlight of my musical career … was probably accompanying the great late Tom Baker playing "Stumbling" on tuba at a New South Wales jazz festival. Absolutely stunning!

If I could form a group with any three musicians … I would choose John Braben (trumpet), Kirk Jaress (trombone) and Andy Jenner (reeds).

Before my retirement … I was a veterinarian – initially a clinician, later a government veterinary officer and finally as a research consultant.

The best thing about the Mt Mee community … is the people. There really is a strong community spirit, which manifests in various forms – rural fire brigade, sports association, P&C, cemetery group, as well as the hall committee, which I lead.

Away from my volunteer work I also enjoy … single malts and good red wines.

In 10 years I hope to be … alive and still "with it".

Mt Mee Hall will host the Best of British Christmas Concert, with music by the Sunshine Coast Symphony Orchestra, on 30 November from 2pm. The concert will also feature German soloist Hans-Georg Wimmer performing works by Handel and Gershwin. Entry is $15. For bookings phone 5498 2104 or 5498 2148.

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