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Our Story

The Limestone Coast Symphony Orchestra was founded early in 2013 by three Mt Gambier- based musicians.  This small team included: Jennie Matthews, instrumental music teacher and oboist; Tom Dermody, tuba player and committee member of the Mount Gambier City Band and; John Pratt, viola player and member of several local ensembles including the Hamilton Symphony Orchestra. The idea, which had been a subject of discussion for several years between these three friends, was to create a large scale orchestra based in Mount Gambier.  A medium where accomplished musicians from across the region could come together to perform high quality, live, classical music for their local communities. 


The orchestra required a few fundamentals to move forward, a musical director, rehearsal space, orchestral percussion instruments and funding.  Hamilton based Angus Christie who specialized in orchestral conducting was approached as musical director, fortunately, he accepted the challenge. 


Mount Gambier City Band openhandedly allowed the use of the City Band Hall and its equipment for the ten week rehearsal period. The generous provision of the City Band’s equipment, including orchestral percussion instruments, was much appreciated. Without this in-kind support, the orchestra could not have been formed.  Grants to Country Arts SA, City of Mount Gambier and Stand Like Stone Foundation were all successful and allowed the project to proceed.


Once the basic requirements of Conductor, venues and finances were assured, a call for expressions of interest was issued to the local communities. Some sixty musicians registered their enthusiasm to be part of the LCSO. All the individuals who expressed interest were accepted, in line with the orchestra’s philosophy of encouraging local talent. It was most fortunate that the range of instruments represented, matched the proportions required to form a symphony orchestra. All the musicians who took to the stage for the inaugural concert were local except for several enthusiastic friends who travelled from Adelaide, Hamilton and Warrnambool. The volunteer backstage and support crew all came from the Limestone Coast.


The LCSO endeavors to select local soloists wherever possible. Program decisions in the first season proved very easy in this respect. Soprano Naomi Summers, Flautists Penny Mansell and Anna Henwood, cellist Robyn Murcott and trumpeters Gary and Jordan Mansell, Jake Arnold and Nathan Gill are all closely connected to the Limestone Coast region. 


The decision was also made to include a choir in the program. The LCSO Chorale was established, drawing from singers in several local choirs including the Millicent Choral Society, Phoenix and the Lutheran Men’s Choir as well as other enthusiastic individual choristers led by Choir Trainers Jodi Swiggs and Michael Bleby.


Local photographers Frank Monger, Mike Slattery and Jim Hoggevonder generously donated their time and talent to the LCSO in its first season, which resulted not only in a thorough visual summary of the season, but much material for subsequent publicity and signage.


The gala concert at the Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre was presented on 30 June 2013. Conducted by Angus Christie, the program included a range of works from Vivaldi and Handel to Tchaikovsky, Strauss and Rimsky-Korsakov. The orchestra was thrilled to receive a standing ovation from a sold-out house and a standard of quality playing and stylish presentation was set for future performances.




Angus Christie studied conducting at the Vienna Academy and the Kodaly Institute in Hungary. He was conductor of the University of Oslo Symphony Orchestra and the University of Bergen Symphony Orchestra for eight years, and was teacher of orchestral conducting at the University of Oslo. Angus is currently the conductor of the Limestone Coast Symphony Orchestra, the Hamilton Symphony Orchestra, the Hamilton String Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor of the Warrnambool Symphony Orchestra. 





Cathy started learning violin at the age of thirteen at Millicent High School with teacher Judy Cooper. At age 17, she played in the SA Youth Orchestra and then completed a Bachelor of Music degree, specialising in performance on violin. She has been teaching violin and piano privately since graduation and performs in a duo with local classical guitarist Mike Walsh. Cathy was appointed Concertmaster of the LCSO in 2014.




Penny has been a woodwind and classroom music educator in South Australia, Victoria, & Malawi - Africa.  Penny was the 3rd female ever recruited into the Band of the South Australia Police where she played flute / piccolo from 1988 - 96.  She has been an active member & soloist of the Hamilton Symphony Orchestra and is currently teaching SACE music & woodwind at Tenison Woods College. She also conducts the Mt Gambier City Concert Band.




Karen joined the LCSO percussion section in its first season. An enthusiastic musician, Karen is a long time player in the Mount Gambier City Band, where she plays Euphonium and performs the role of Music Librarian. She is also a regular member of the Mount Gambier City Concert band. 

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