Finding wonders in a year of hardship

All of us will look back on 2020 with mixed emotions – memories of forced separation from family and friends, cancelled holidays and lifestyle changes will be uppermost in our minds. But 2020 was also a year of wonders. The TSO team was determined to continue to bring you the music you love. Our team achieved some truly remarkable things in unprecedented circumstances, and in the face of uncertainty and adversity. For that, we are truly proud and thankful.

I am blown away that by the end of 2020, we delivered 197 Daily Doses, the first barely a week after the shutdown, and from a standing start. We delivered 12 Friday Night Live concerts – mastering the technical challenges of delivering digital product. Our Chorus, showing characteristic grit and determination, kept themselves active during the shutdown – at the price of some mild frostbite. We discovered two new front of camera faces in our ranks - Mitch Nissen and Robert Gibson – what wonderful talent they are. Jenny Compton and TSO musicians created Tune In, a marvellous resource for music teachers and parents – have a look! We launched our publishing house – TSO House – and have already published compositions of Tasmanian composers. We developed a new subscription and pricing model for 2021 and a completely new approach to programming for 2021 – no small feat.

My main regret for 2020 was that we saw little of our Chief Conductor, Eivind Aadland and nothing of our Conductor Emeritus, Marko Letonja and our Associate Conductor, Elena Schwarz. They did keep in close contact and Eivind’s advice and counsel was invaluable. We are eagerly anticipating Elena’s arrival in Tasmania in late March, and Eivind in late April if all goes to plan.

In 2020 we were incredibly lucky to have our Principal Guest Conductor, Johannes Fritzsch and our own Greg Stephens resident in Hobart and available to take the baton. Our Concertmaster, Emma McGrath and Associate Concertmaster, Sercan Danis and others in the orchestra rose to provide strong musical leadership. Finally, our wonderful CEO Caroline Sharpen was truly outstanding in leading the TSO through a truly challenging year.

We couldn’t have done all of that without you, our generous donors. It was a very tough year, and your outpouring of support during our hardest times helped the musicians and staff stay positive and committed to providing music for all. My very sincere personal thanks to all of you for your commitment and support. I look forward to seeing you at a live concert in the near future.

With kindest regards,


Don Challen