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Wednesday, August 22, 2018 4:47pm

Subscriber Stories: Ian Hodgson


Having subscribed in 1947, Ian Hodgson is our longest and oldest subscriber. It isn't surprising then that he has a wealth of stories about the ASO to share! We chat to him about how he fell in love with orchestral music and why he keeps coming back. 

ASO: What do you do with yourself?

Ian: I’m a retired dentist, I’ve been retired for 18 years. I’m involved in the local Probis in Brighton and am a member of the Richard Wagner Society, and I have a lot to do with that. Speaking of which, I went to a concert the other night called The Third Act of the Mastersingers, the opera by Wagner. I was a dentist for nearly 50 years and I’m involved with the Senior Dentists Association.  I’m also a member of the Kooyonga Golf Club, which is very good, they have the Friends of the ASO serenade there every year and I’m the sponsor for that.

At what point did you decide to become a subscriber, and why did you decide that?

Well the thing is, I first went to the ASO when I was 12 years of age, and that was in 1941. And that was a school concert, and we went in from the school in a bus to the Adelaide Town Hall, and I heard my first orchestral concert in my life. I was absolutely stunned with the magnificence of the players and how brilliant they were. It became an addiction after that.


I became a subscriber a few years later when I was a bit older, perhaps 18 or 19, but that didn’t stop me from going to lots of concerts when I was much younger because my parents were very very keen.

My father was a member of the Friends of the ASO and my mother was a good pianist, so they promoted all good classical music and I heard nothing but that through my school years. So it does stick with you when you hear it all at home.

I’ve been going for 75 years to the concerts, but for 72 years as a subscriber, and I’m also the oldest subscriber of all the subscribers.

Could you put a number to the amount of concerts you’ve attended?

For 70 years? Oh, how many hundreds would that be?


Can you remember what the first piece you heard was?

You’re going back to 1941 when I was 12?


I remember it very well. It was a Canadian conductor, quite a famous conductor by the name of Sir Ernest MacMillan, and he got the orchestra to play each section that played, showing their solo instruments – the oboe, the French horns and the trombones, they all played their bits. Let the kids know what the orchestra was like. So then they launched into the orchestral version of Pop Goes The Weasel!


Of course they played a few other things that I don’t remember, but that really sparked the young kids – Pop Goes the Weasel by the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

Anyway, after that, the enthusiastic applause by the kids was incredible. You could say I was hooked, and I have been ever since. I was so impressed by the professionalism of each player and how they played their instruments so beautifully, and it really affected me very very personally. I was only 12 then!

And what is it that keeps you coming back, keep subscribing? Because you would have seen it change so much over the years.

It never fails to satisfy my obsession. Every time I go, I get sort of a kick – like a drug. And it’s a very valuable drug, not a venomous drug, is it. No, I must say, the addiction keeps me coming back, I wouldn’t miss it for anything.

What do you love most about it?

The thrill and satisfaction of seeing such a wonderful orchestra – and probably, in my opinion, the best orchestra in Australia.

Do you play an instrument?

No, I never have. I played the flute in school, but I didn’t go on with anything. I didn’t learn the piano or anything. Just a great music lover.

And lastly, do you have any…

Let me tell you a funny story!

I read in a book that was back in the 1930s, believe it or not, and there was a very nasty, very good conductor by the name of Georg Szell, and he was in Adelaide, and he remarked to the General Manager of our orchestra at the time “between the best they can offer and the least I’m prepared to accept, there is an unbridgeable gap.


So their playing was not too good in the 1930s. A scratch orchestra! But they improved exponentially over each decade, they improved their performance. And when they played in the ring cycle back in the 90s it was absolutely fantastic, they got accolades all over the world in the Wagner Ring Cycle

Image: Mike Burton, The Advertiser

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