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BHCO performance at Albert Hall 2007

Royal Albert Hall in London is famous around the world. Well, Tibooburra with a population of 150 people in Far West NSW (Australia) has its own Albert Hall, which was the venue for an orchestra performance in 2007.

In May 2007, the Broken Hill Civic Orchestra had planned a concert at Tibooburra's Albert Hall, with proceeds to be donated to the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS). Drought-breaking rain during the week leading up to the planned concert date forced a cancellation of the concert, due to the closure of dirt roads throughout the district.

Undeterred, the orchestra set another concert date for 4th August 2007. The day before the orchestra was due to leave for Tibooburra, there was more rain in the district... and more road closures. Saturday 4th of August arrived... a perfect sunny day. The roads were open again, and the orchestra convoy hit the road. The convoy comprised a minibus of musicians and supporters driven by the orchestra's French Horn player, plus half a dozen cars of "roadies" who helped transport the orchestra's equipment. The logistics of safely transporting large instruments such as double bass, tuba, electric piano, drum set and timpani along a gravel road on the 4-hour plus drive from Broken Hill to Tibooburra was a challenge well met by the roadies.

The convoy stopped at the Packsaddle Roadhouse for lunch, enjoying home-made soup and other delicious fare. While the orchestra was having lunch at Packsaddle, some other groups of travellers heard about the concert. Although they were unable to attend the concert, they gave donations towards the event, showing community spirit that is typical of Australia's outback. The convoy then continued on to its ultimate destination, Albert Hall.

The anticipation had been building in Tibooburra, and the word was out for locals to come dressed as if for a performance at Royal Albert Hall... with suggestions of a bowl of fruit (suit) or a frock and tiara. Many people got into the spirit of the occasion, and the crowd started to roll in, with organisers needing to raid the nearby CWA hall for more chairs. The audience came from near and far. Some came from the pub next door. Others travelled much further, with some even arriving by private plane. The orchestra itself included some ex-Broken Hill players who travelled over 1500 km from Sydney and Victoria especially to perform in the concert.

The usual hushed anticipation of an audience awaiting an orchestral performance gave way to murmurs of excitement and socialising in the warm, friendly outback atmosphere. Suddenly, Albert Hall filled with the music of Cavelleria Rusticana. The concert had begun! The orchestra played a variety of popular classics which entertained the enthusiastic audience. One of the highlights of the evening was a captivating Baadsvik tuba solo played by Oliver Harris, who received a standing ovation. To cap off the evening, the orchestra finished with not one but two rousing renditions of Strauss's Radetsky March, and the audience got into the spirit of the occasion in true "Last Night at the Proms" style. At the end of the concert the orchestra received a standing ovation.

Entry to the concert had been by donation. One concert goer put in a gold coin donation as he went in, then enjoyed the concert so much that he put in another ten dollars when he left at the end of the evening.

The orchestra was sponsored for the 2007 trip by the Broken Hill Democratic Club, Gary Radford and the Silver City Workingmen's Club, which helped cover transport costs. The orchestra players also contributed to travel costs and paid for their own accommodation. This made it possible for the orchestra to donate the entire door takings to the RFDS. See also the photo gallery.

The concert was such a success that the orchestra was invited back to perform at Albert Hall again on 7th June 2008.

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