Mal Hewitt, Musical Director
Mal Hewitt's lifelong association with young musicians and orchestral playing began as a member of the NSW Public Schools Concert Orchestra in 1963, whilst studying violin and voice at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. Teaching appointments at high schools in western Sydney provided the opportunity for Mal to give many young instrumentalists their first orchestral experiences.
His appointment to the Arts Education Studio of the NSW Department of Education in 1981 marked the beginning of many years work as director of State Music Camps, conductor of the Sydney Schools Symphony Orchestra, and Musical Director of the Public Schools Concert Committee, where his contribution to music education and to the provision of quality performance experiences for young musicians is widely acknowledged.
In the early 1990s, Mal was invited to conduct at the annual International Festival of Youth Orchestras held at Banff in Canada. Recently retired from teaching, Mal maintains a busy schedule of choral and instrumental workshops, music camps and festivals, and continues as Musical Director of The Occasional Performing Sinfonia, which he founded in 1993.
Mal was awarded an OAM in 2014 for services to music education and to the community.
History of the Orchestra
The Blue Mountains Youth Orchestra (BMYO) was founded by Springwood violin teacher Kathleen Stokes in the early 1970s. When she retired in 1981, Richard Bournes became the conductor. He first conducted the orchestra on 12th June 1981 in the Uniting Church Hall, Springwood - a building which no longer exists. In 1982 the BMYO was wound down and the Blue Mountains Orchestra (BMO) was formed. Under the structure of the BMYO more mature musicians were not allowed membership.
In 1985 the Blue Mountains Training Orchestra was formed with Suzanne Hodge as the Musical Director. In 1986 Suzanne Hodge became Musical Director of the training and senior sections of the orchestra. The orchestra was incorporated in October 1995 under the Associations Incorporation Act 1984 and became the Blue Mountains Orchestra Inc. Suzanne stayed as Musical Director until her retirement in 2013. Current musical director Mal Hewitt took up the baton in 2014.
A number of orchestra members have made professional careers as music teachers and/or musicians.