AYO was saddened to hear of the passing of long time contributors to the cultural life of AYO, Emeritus Professor John Hopkins AM OBE (1927-2013) and Leonard Spira OAM (1935-2013). We would like to pay tribute to John and Leonard’s significant contributions to the AYO community.
John Hopkins AM OBE
Professor John Hopkins was a major figure in Australian music education having held leadership positions in music at the ABC, Sydney Conservatorium, and Victorian College of the Arts. John was an inspirational AYO conductor and a leading figure in implementing the orchestra’s first overseas tours; from 1963 to 1991 John conducted four AYO international tours and numerous Australian concert seasons. As Federal Director of Music for the ABC, John also actively championed the work of several Australian artists including Peter Sculthorpe, whose composition Earth Cry was features so successfully in our 2013 International Tour. During the AYO’s 1970 Asian tour, John conducted Sculthorpe’s Music for Japan, specially commissioned for a Japanese concert. Sculthorpe said: Rehearsing Music for Japan with John Hopkins and the AYO gave me the most pleasurable time I have ever spent with an orchestra.
Leonard Spira OAM
Leonard played trumpet at the National Music Camp in 1952 and then horn from 1954-1959, and as a member of the Australian Youth Orchestra from 1957-1960. Leonard’s many achievements included a successful career in architecture and conducting the Victorian State Opera. In 2008 he received an Order of Australia Medal for service to music, particularly to the development of opera in Melbourne and through establishing and directing a range of community music groups. A loyal AYO supporter and member of the John Bishop Circle, Leonard has contributed to AYO scholarships and the International Tour Fund. Of his contributions, Leonard has said: I was to offer the opportunity to experience the AYO’s programs to future generations as a way of saying thank you for the wonderful experiences I had both at Camp and in the AYO.