Scotch College was the first School in Australia to introduce a Foundation Fellow Program. This year we welcomed the eighth Foundation Fellow, Dr Anton Armstrong, the Harry R. and Thora H. Tosdal Professor of Music at St Olaf College and conductor of the St Olaf Choir, Minnesota. Armstrong is a graduate of St Olaf and earned a Master of Music degree at the University of Illinois and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Michigan State University. A world-renowned educator in choral music, Dr Armstrong came to Scotch directly from the World Symposium on Choral Music in Japan, following tours to Scandinavia with his choir and a recent performance at the White House for President and Mrs Bush.
On 9 August, Dr Armstrong was guest of honour at the Foundation President’s Dinner where he conducted the School’s Chamber Choir, and delivered an inspirational address to the more than 100 Foundation members who attended. The evidence of Anton’s skill, passion and commitment were clear for all to see and hear in the bracket of songs performed by the Chamber Choir. He is an educationist of exceptional gifts and abilities, a singer and conductor of vision and passion, and an orator who held his audience totally spellbound. His vision of the performing arts as a vehicle for the education and development of the whole student resonated throughout the Ian Roach Hall, and his belief in the enrichment of experience, the broadening of the spirit and development of compassion and understanding were manifest. The rendition of ‘Shed not a tear’ with its multi-layered harmonies became the actualization of his vision.
Dr Armstrong recognised the scale of achievement of the James Forbes Academy, and the courage – or ‘New York guts’ – required by the Principal, Council and supporters of the project to bring it to fruition. He left everyone with a challenge, though – to use the Academy and all its resources to enhance the broadest educational experiences for the boys; and to create citizens of the 21st century who can think and who can face the challenges and uncertainties of the future with understanding, compassion and determination. It is a challenge which the School and the Foundation are eager to take up!
After his address, the guests moved to the Main Foyer of the James Forbes Academy (JFA) for the formal dinner and enjoyed the company of many who had helped to make the vision of the Academy become a reality. Dr Armstrong entertained the guests with further anecdotes and recollections of his own experiences around the world, and made the links between music, drama, academic work and sport. The beautiful setting for the dinner, created by Kate Paterson and the Spotless staff and John Colvin from the JFA, provided a perfect backdrop for a recognition of the vital connections between the Foundation and the School, and the need for the Foundation to keep working to support the School in all its endeavours. The night showed indeed that the Foundation is energised and keen for its next challenge. The Foundation Fellow exemplifies the Foundation in action, and on this, as on previous occasions, the quality of the Fellow and of the President’s Evening itself was at the highest level.
Dr Armstrong continued his excellent work with the different choirs in the School, and even with the massed voices in preparation for the Foundation Day Concert, in a tireless program of classes and workshops. A highlight was the combined choirs evening on Wednesday 17 August in which he conducted choirs from throughout the Junior and Senior Schools, and the combined Scotch–Lauriston Choir. The other highlight was his conducting at the Combined Schools Festival in which more than one thousand musicians participated, and which is reported elsewhere in this publication
Dr Alan Watkinson
Executive Director of the Scotch College Foundation
Scotch College: ABN 86 852 826 445 ACN 005 650 395 CRICOS 00624A (Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students)