Discussion Group 2013

Posted by on Dec 10, 2013 in Blog, What's On | No Comments
Discussion Group 2013


This special project for Canberra’s Centenary Year was an enjoyable and informative program that sometimes took unexpected paths with as participants told stories that captured everyone’s imagination – or indignation. With plenty of glimpses behind the scenes at how history was made in Canberra’s elegant ‘city hall’, photographs, stories & questions were shared, along with delectable afternoon teas. There were even surprise appearances by actors of Canberra Repertory and a theatre organ performance, as well as memorabilia of the Horticultural Society of Canberra and the work of the Embroiderers’ Guild ACT, plus an unforgettable afternoon of dancing when even the ABC Radio’s journalist couldn’t resist learning the Pride of Erin while interviewing Colin Towns …

Sponsored by the ACT Government and supported by Friends of the Albert Hall Inc, the Discussion Group was coordinated by Lenore Coltheart and held at the Albert Hall throughout 2013:

Grand Days at the Albert Hall   Monday 18 March 2013
Highlights of Canberra’s history, as seen and heard at the Albert Hall – how a city was created collectively, in conversation, in concert, at dances and shows, by artists and audiences, and through civic action. Includes a fascinating glimpse of the very first celebration of Canberra Day.

Heritage happening  Monday 22 April 2013
Explore the Albert Hall Heritage Precinct for clues on how happenings there mapped the milestones of Canberra’s history – and see if you can find some secrets too! Discover how the idea of a national capital and the history of a city can be revealed in the form and fabric of our heritage. A special event for the ACT Heritage Festival 2013.

The dancing decades  Monday 6 May 2013
The balls, weekly dances, school socials, stomps and more at the Albert Hall, the spotlight moving through the decades from the 1920s to the contemporary scene. Recalling the dancebands, the fashions, the suppers and the fun. Of special interest to everyone joining in Kick Up Your Heels – 100 Years of Social Dancing, recreating the decades of dancing at the Albert Hall for the Centenary of Canberra – see www.socandance.org.au

Artists & audiences  Monday 1 July 2013
In the auditorium and in the wings – delights might include the new Puccini aria at the 1928 opening concert; the 1932 performance of A Bill of Divorcement that gave birth to the Canberra Repertory Society; Lottie Lehmann in 1938 and Joan Sutherland in 1950; the barefoot Bodenweiser debacle and Beth Dean’s brilliant ballets; the ABC’s chilly celebrity concerts; the world première of The Sentimental Bloke; and an Eisteddfod or two.

Assemblies  Monday 5 August 2013
Suiting school speech days, as government chamber for the ACT Advisory Council, or lecture hall for HG Wells and Bertrand Russell, the Albert Hall is Canberra’s most versatile venue. Crowded meetings there include the 1929 protest meeting that was Australia’s own Boston Tea Party and the more recent citizen rallies invigorated by these antecedents. All have made glorious, or notorious, Canberra’s original ‘Assembly Hall’.

Creative communities  Monday 2 September 2013
The Society for Arts & Letters; Canberra Repertory Society; Rotary; the Horticultural Society; Canberra Philharmonic, the Embroiderers’ Guild, church groups and local clubs are among the many whose history is embedded in the Albert Hall – some sampler years of Albert Hall bookings show the associative life of the national capital.

World affairs  Monday 21 October 2013
The Empire and the Commonwealth, war and peace, postwar refugee and migration policies, the Cold War in Canberra, diplomacy and the Embassies are all included in an investigation of the wide world of international moments seen from Canberra’s Albert Hall.

The history of a nation  Monday 4 November 2013
See the shaping of Australian history from Canberra’s first Anzac Day, to the creation of the very first Australian citizens in 1949 and the historic citizenship ceremony in 2009. With special attention to the Albert Hall’s hectic 1950s, with the Jubilee of Federation in 1951, occasions of State and civic banquets including the celebrations for the Coronation of the young Queen Elizabeth II and her Royal Tour in 1954.

Designing our future Monday 2 December 2013
The discovery this year of a second set of architectural plans, drawn up from 1944,  for an Albert Hall of the future raises new questions about the history of the Hall and of planning for the national capital. Discussing these plans and what they suggest about the role of the Albert Hall in our city’s future leads us to the question of the century – the part of the national capital in our nation’s next 100 years. See more about the 1944 plans.