A house on a hill at chilly East Trentham has by chance become an inviting winter concert hall.
Built 13 years ago, although not with such a use in mind, long-time local Susie Kilby soon realised her large home – with its floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the valley below – lent itself perfectly to a concert setting.
Susie’s involvement with Music in the Central Highlands produced the first opportunity for ‘Hill House’ to host concerts in support of young musicians in the region.
“(MITCH convener) Bern Barry came here one day because friends of mine had said ‘Susie and Roland have got a great room’ and Bern walked in the door and said ‘Yes, you could seat at least 100 people here!’,” she said.
“During the time MITCH was active, we had seasonal concerts and I was asked to join the committee after a short while, so we did the winter concerts here.
“That was over five years, and I thought that I could do some fundraising parallel to that for our local school, because my grandchildren were down there and they had a music program that was pretty amazing but poorly funded.”
Since MITCH disbanded, Susie has continued to host fundraising concerts during the winters with professional musicians performing.
Money raised is donated towards Trentham Primary School’s music program with the goal of buying the school its own piano.
Most recently Susie achieved a coup by getting the renowned Australian String Quartet to agree to perform. The performance was quickly sold out.
“I think I just got to this time in my life and thought ‘well I can only ask the question and they can only say no’, so it was a long negotiation but they said yes!” she said.
“These are acclaimed musicians both in Australia and internationally and it was indeed exciting to have them here.”
Susie now hopes to make the fundraising concerts an annual event and said that while supporting the school’s music program was one of the aims, the other was simply to bring people together.
“I really love the idea that this (house) can be used for a few hours of people coming and having a beautiful afternoon of music and the social connectedness,” she said.
“It’s an opportunity for our communities to connect through these fabulous musicians, a real win for our children and the wellbeing of all who share in the day.”