IPSWICH has been the breeding ground, over many years for people to go on and have successful national and international careers whether it be in sport, the arts, athletics or whatever endeavour they have got involved in. And we embrace this excellence and celebrate their achievements.
This is the case for some of our sporting heroes. We remember Alfie Langer and the Walters brothers of rugby league fame, Craig McDermott and Shane Watson in cricket and more recently Ashley Barty in tennis but what of others who have made their mark?
Ron Richards was an indigenous Australian professional middle/light heavyweight boxer of the 1930s and 1940s who won the Queensland State (Australia) heavyweight title, Australian middleweight title, Australian heavyweight title, Australian light heavyweight title, and British Empire middleweight title. Ron was inducted into the Australian National Boxing Hall of Fame in 2003. And there are many more sporting greats too numerous to mention here.
In Australia Country Music has become big business and rural towns such as Tamworth with its Country Musical Festival and Gympie with the National Country Music Muster draw large crowds. Gympie now boasts the Australian Institute of Country Music, hosting three academic conferences on Country Music and published three books from papers presented there.
However, you may be surprised to learn that Ipswich was once considered to be the Country Music Capital of Queensland with a thriving country music community long before either Tamworth or Gympie's festivals. According to the article I have read "the crowning glory for country music in Ipswich in the late 1970s and early 1980s was the Queensland Country Music Awards and Festival” which was driven by a country music entertainer Robert Ricketts. The Hon. Bill Hayden, Leader of the Federal Opposition at the time was Patron of the Ipswich Country Music Capital of Queensland Association in 1978. Unfortunately, the association appears to have disappeared once Ricketts retired from it.
Jumping forward a few years, there are two local singers making their mark with Opera Australia.
Malcolm Ede was raised and educated in Ipswich. He first sung with one of Ipswich's award winning choirs the Orpheus Chorale. Malcolm attributes the Ipswich City Council's Master Classes program for the first links to the outside world and an important stepping stone in his career.
Malcolm graduated with a Music Masters from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and spent some time as an emerging artist with New Zealand Opera. He joined full-time Opera Australia's chorus in 2008. He has appeared in La Boheme, Madama Butterfly, The Magic Flute and most recently Opera Australia's performance of Verdi's 'Adia' that was staged on the beach at Coolangatta.
The other local, David Hibbard, also graduated from the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and gained experience singing with the State Opera of South Australia before studying with Daniel Ferro in New York and in England with Sir Peter Pears. He sang with the English National Opera in a number of principal roles and in 1990 received the German Operatic Award from Opera Foundation of Australia.
David is well known to Ipswich audiences with appearances at St Paul's Anglican Church singing with the Underground Opera Company. Like Malcolm he most recently appeared in the role of the King in Aidia on Coolganatta Beach for Opera Australia and Griffith University's Opera on the Beach.
Both these opera singers, one could say, follow in the footsteps of another Ipswichian, Indigenous Tenor Harold Blair whom the Federal Electorate of Blair was named after in 1988.
Ipswich has produced many more artists and sportsman and women all making great achievements on the national and international scene. As a community, we must undertake to recognise these high levels of endeavour regardless of it being sporting prowess or artistic greatness.