Sue Witham Biography

I was away for the AGM this year, but I would just like to say thank you to the Committee for the honour of offering me a Life Membership of the Accompanists’ Guild. I accepted, of course, without hesitation.

This all began back in 1993–4. I was constantly being asked to play for this, that, or the other, and if I weren’t available, could I recommend someone else? Even then, it was difficult to find any accompanist, let alone a good one.

So, as I was running a referral service anyhow, I decided to go about organising an Accompanists’ Guild. It was rather a daunting task as no one was using email at that time. Everything had to be typed and delivered by post or by hand. We sent out general letters of invitation to schools, associations, music shops, the AMEB etc, as well as personally contacting everyone we could think of.

We received a lot of help from the Guild in South Australia—a big thank you to Diana Harris—and we have continued to keep that association with them. I “told” Kevin Power that he had to be the first President. Kevin is one of the best musicians around, and he has great experience running organisations and meetings. There were many “naysayers”, but the Guild has survived now for almost 30 years.

I wrote to Geoffrey Parsons and Nancy Weir to be our patrons, both of whom graciously accepted. Then, when Geoffrey died, I asked Piers Lane, who also graciously accepted. Of our original committee, four are still here and active in the Guild, though perhaps a little less so than in the 1990s: Kevin, Lynne Jordan, Regis Danillon, and myself.

Some people say that accompanists are born (and not made). This may be true, but one can become a good accompanist, too. This is perhaps the next challenge for the Guild: how to foster and encourage pianists to work in this area. (More to come on this topic and more about the early days of the Guild in the next newsletter!)

My thanks again to the Committee for the honour of the Life Membership. I wish you all a good break and plenty of work in 2024.


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