Eisteddfod something to sing about

EVENT’S HIGH NOTE: Laurie West, 94, is the oldest eisteddfod performer.
EVENT’S HIGH NOTE: Laurie West, 94, is the oldest eisteddfod performer. Supplied

AGE has not wearied the ever-nimble vocal cords of the man who will soon become the 119th Heritage Queensland Eisteddfod's oldest performer.

At 94, the remarkable Laurie West will contest eight different award categories at the eisteddfod, to be held at the Ipswich Civic Centre from April 6-8.

Although it has been 60 years since Mr West has sung a note at an eisteddfod, he has been a consistent performer during that time with both the Albert St Church Choir and the University of Queensland Music Society.

He said he was excited about seeing how far he could go.

"I'm very interested in the eisteddfod movement," Mr West said.

"I don't expect to win but it will be good to sing to what I hope will be an appreciative audience."

Mr West's vocal career began about 70 years ago, when he studied singing after moving to Brisbane from Ballarat, Victoria.

He formed an opera company in Brisbane - The Brisbane Opera Company - in 1947 with Donald Smith and Greta Elkins, both of whom went on to bigger and better things.

Both Smith and Elkins, for example, sang with Joan Sutherland.

While he was not as lucky in his career as his old Brisbane Opera Company friends, Mr West said he was lucky to still have his singing voice.

"I had my vocal cords looked at by a specialist and he said they are as good now as they ever were," Mr West said.

Mr West will contest the operatic aria, champion bass, art song, sacred solo, traditional ballad, song by an Australian composer, folk song solo and light opera categories at this year's eisteddfod.

Organisers of the Eisteddfod said they were buoyed by the level of support for the iconic festival, which visits Ipswich only once every seven years.

Additional sessions have been included to cater for a large number of entries.

Performers will arrive from as far north as Rockhampton and as far west as Dalby to take part.

Choirs from Rockhampton, Gladstone, Caloundra, Esk, Toowoomba and Brisbane will take on the local Blackstone Ipswich Cambrian and Ipswich Orpheus Choirs.

Programs can be purchased in advance from solicitor Richard Zande and Associates at 49 Ellenborough St.

They are priced at $10 and contain all details required to plan to make the Easter weekend an exciting period.

Laurie West

I had my vocal cords looked at by a specialist and he said they are as good now as they ever were

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