By Patrick Thomas
ISBN 978 1 876829 29 2
By Patrick Thomas
A Conductor's Life. An autobiography. A story about a career in music from flautist in the ABC's Queensland Symphony Orchestra to a world of Australian and International orchestral conducting.
Patrick Thomas was not the product of a Conservatorium (there was none in Brisbane at the time) nor did he join the various young hopefuls who sought advanced training or conducting apprenticeships in famous overseas centres. When he jettisoned a burgeoning career as a flautist in the ABC’s Queensland Symphony Orchestra, this could have been the kiss of death in terms of achieving his ultimate ambition but, miraculously, eight years later, he was catapulted overnight into the world he'd always sought. To maintain favour in one’s country with its comparatively small music community can be more difficult than roaming the world where orchestras are plentiful and offer itinerant conductors an immense range of opportunities and alternatives. Sustaining a successful career in music for over 60 years takes more than luck but, in the end, it will be for others to judge the extent of his contribution and the conditions under which it was made.
By Brennan Keats
The dedications below encapsulate the contents of this book about the origins and formation of the publishing house Wirripang that can now claim to be the largest publisher of Australian sheet music in the world.
To my darling wife Anne (Annie), the driving force behind the not inconsiderable achievements of Wirripang.
To Wirripang, born of blood, tears and sweat; you rise, soar and glide on the rich winds of dedication, passion and love of all things cultural, high in a rarified atmosphere above an abused, tired and war-torn planet.
Both Anne and Brennan Keats were raised with a strong sense of the value of Australian culture. Anne, the product of country parents who later embraced the richness of city living yet retained a strong sense of country values, that included a great pride of Australia and all things Australian.
Brennan whose parents were both professional musicians had instilled in him from an early age the value of music from a deeply cultural viewpoint, yet at the same time it was made clear to him that music would not be his profession.
Both parents left their respective children a legacy; in the case of Anne a strong work ethic and as stated love of country; in the case of Brennan a considerable collection of music, some being unpublished because the publishers of the day looked not to its cultural value but rather to the money it would generate them.
Over the years both offspring, albeit unconsciously, gradually worked to combining their respective legacies to form an enterprise that would publish music of cultural value with a view to bringing it before a discerning public, as well as ensuring that it would not be lost to future generations. This is their story. There were tears spilt by them; there were many late nights and early mornings; there were ghosts; there are examples of dedication to their art by some who have become the strongest of friends and remain with Wirripang to the present day, and above all and in us all a passion for Australian culture.
By Brennan Keats
Born to a privileged country life and raised in the best of Victorian tradition by three maiden aunts, her early education instilled a love of matters intellectual, cultural and an attraction to those who pursue it. Her experience of war and its horror was both indirect and direct. Towards the end of WWI she performed as a volunteer singer and pianist in the ‘rest rooms’ provided for the soldiers, and saw the impact upon their young lives. During WWII her contact with war was devastated by the loss of her eldest son. Her choices of husbands were men of exceptional artistic ability. Her first longest and happiest marriage was to a gifted musician and composer, her second to a man of words, both men leaving a lasting cultural legacy that exists to the present day. Her third marriage was to a man whose cultural and intellectual abilities were inhibited by his Norfolk Island upbringing and WWII.
Through her strength and strong belief she raised her youngest son passing on her beliefs so setting the course for the evolution of the Australian music publishing house, Wirripang.