On 12 July, the Choir’s Committee farewelled and thanked Marilyn Gosling on the conclusion of her stint as Immediate Past President (IPP). Marilyn had completed one year in this supposedly honorific role and was well on the way to completing a second.
As IPP, Marilyn was incapable of performing a purely honorific role. She is a relatively recent member of Grads but in a short time has made a splendid contribution to our well-being. She has a strong background in choral singing, having been a member of Philharmonia for a number of years, and singing regularly in a vocal trio with her sister, Robyn Wells, who is on the vocal studies staff at the Sydney Con. As well, Marilyn has considerable business experience (in marketing and public relations) and, having spent a number of years in the United States and Japan, has developed impressive diplomatic skills.
Marilyn’s first contact with the Choir was in December 2006, when she joined the George Faunce Allman Guest Chorale for the Mozart edition of Messiah. She joined formally as a soprano chorister in February 2007. Marilyn was elected President in 2009, succeeding the excellent Cath Crittenden, and served in this position for three years. Her period in office coincided with some splendid music-making by the Choir, highlighted by a brilliant performance of Haydn’s Die Jahreszeiten (The Seasons) in August 2009 and, in December 2011, the premiere of Christopher Bowen’s Songs of the Heart, set to verse by Christopher Brennan, commissioned by the Choir and dedicated to our Patron, H.E. Professor Bashir.
Marilyn’s Presidency was marked by tireless energy, outstanding organizational skills and assiduous communication with the membership (I now have withdrawal symptoms if the Weekly Notes do not arrive by Monday morning), and a clear appreciation of the value to the Choir of Christopher Bowen’s exceptional musical gifts. Her instinct for bringing our rather old-fashioned institution up to date is illustrated by the introduction of acknowledgement of country announcements as a matter of normal concert protocol. Marilyn was punctilious in maintaining close and productive relations with the Choir’s principal partners (our Patron, Professor Bashir, the University administration, beginning with the Vice-Chancellor, benefactors, such as Sir William Tyree, the City of Sydney in relation to the Sydney Town Hall etc). Her Presidency saw the Choir achieve generous sponsorships, particularly from Westfield for the Town Hall Messiah concerts, which have been brilliantly managed by Cath Crittenden. Marilyn was intelligent and diplomatic enough to continue to give heed to and take advice from long-standing members, such as the late loved Margaret Davidson.
A splendid example of her activism and determination to be useful was her putting her hand up at the end of 2012, after three very busy years as President, to manage the Verdi Requiem, with its major logistical challenges. Marilyn’s outstanding performance was no doubt a major factor in creating the warm impressions that the guest singers generally took from the whole Verdi experience, which must go down overall as an important milestone in the history of the Choir.
Finally, Marilyn has provided a splendid example of another important role for any leader, ensuring a smooth succession and her subsequent provision of quiet assistance to all committee members and especially to Evelyne de Clercq. She has helped to ensure that the Choir continues to be run at an excellent level.
Marilyn’s success as a leader of the Choir is attributable to unique, unrepeatable aspects of her personality. But some general lessons can be drawn: in particular, the advantages of bringing new blood into a long-standing organization, like ours.
Current President, Evelyne de Clercq and the Committee, on behalf of the whole Choir, would like to thank Marilyn sincerely for the most generous gift of her talents and time over the last 5 years. We hope that she will continue to enjoy singing with her fellow sopranos for many years to come. And any future advice from Marilyn will always be gratefully received!