The Peninsula Music Society was founded in 1962 with the aim of fostering the appreciation and enjoyment of chamber, vocal, instrumental and orchestral music on the Mornington Peninsula. A Committee of about fifteen people was formed in 1962 with Mr. Max Piggott as President. The aim could, it was decided, be best achieved by the regular presentation of high quality concerts by world-renowned artists.
The organisation was to be purely cultural with no view to profit. This idea was accepted by the Committee, which displayed great courage in facing the very big problem of finance. Interested people were invited to become members and subscribers to the Society. About 2/3rds of the patrons subscribed and about 1/3rd preferred to pay at the door. The task of securing artists of the standard the Committee had set for the 4 or 5 concerts held during the season each year was no easy one and we began an association with Musica Viva Australia which, through its Countrywide arm, supplied up to half of our concert ensembles each season. In recent years, Peninsula Music Society has sourced most of its artists directly.
The principal executives in those early years were, Mr. Max Piggott, Mr. and Mrs. Robin Wilkins, Mrs. Sonia McKillop, Mr. W. Burchett, Mr. Ron Fallaw, Mr. Paul Offor, Mr. Jim Stanhope, Mrs N. Muir, Mr. J. Cairns, Mrs Dorcas Taylor (McClean), Mr. J. Worthington, Mrs Mirrie Buxton. The Society's patron was Dr. Margaret Sutherland C.B.E. Australian composer, whose help and interest were of great value.
For the first five years the concerts were held in Mornington, Rosebud, and Red Hill. After 1967 all concerts were held in Findlay Hall at the Mornington Secondary College (High School) until the Government closed the School in 1999. From 2000 to 2004 concerts were held in the Mary Herring Hall, Toorak College, Mt. Eliza.
From the time it was announced that the Mornington Secondary College would be closed, the President of the Peninsula Music Society met with all the local MPs, petitioned the State Government with over 900 names and corresponded with the Education Department, the Premier's Department and the Mornington Peninsula Shire Council in an effort to save the hall. After the Council agreed to purchase the school site, including Findlay Hall, from the Education Department members of the Executive Committee met many times with Mornington Peninsula Shire representatives and the architects to ensure that the hall be retained for use by the local community of music lovers, and that it be refurbished in a manner that retained the excellent acoustic for which it was noted. Together with the Mornington Rotary Club, the Peninsula Music Society liaised with the Mornington Shire Council and organised working bees to maintain the site for four years, until the goal was achieved at the end of 2004. The opening of the wonderfully refurbished venue, now known as the Peninsula Community Theatre, was celebrated with a performance by the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra and we returned there permanently with the 2005 concert series.
Over the years our concert series and the activities of the Peninsula Music Society have grown a little. In 1998 we began an annual bursary program for local music students and recently have been able to make awards up to a total of $20,000 each year to assist very talented young musicians with their careers. This program is made possible through the generous support of the Tallis Foundation, Mornington Peninsula Shire and our subscribers. We also have a Schimmel Concert Grand piano which has been placed in our care by the Tallis Foundation and is available for appropriate use by others. All concerts are held at the Peninsula Community Theatre, Nepean Highway & Wilsons Road, Mornington. (Melway 145 E2). Off street parking is free.
President Antoinette Seal
Treasurer Janette Forster
Secretary Jan Morton
Members Megan Smithies and Yani Lam