Gunnedah Conservatorium students were thrilled to play a starring role in the Australia Day performance with Todd McKenney.

Mr McKenney – an Australian performer and TV personality best known for his starring role in the musical The Boy from Oz – was Gunnedah’s 2024 Australia Day Ambassador.

Almost 20 music students from the conservatorium registered to be part of the Australia Day awards ceremony performance with Mr McKenney.

It included a recital of the national anthem and Peter Allen’s classic I Still Call Australia Home.

“It was a great opportunity [for the students] to be involved with a high calibre performer,” Gunnedah Conservatorium director Rebecca Ryan said.

The Gunnedah-based choir, aged from eight years to senior students, was drawn from schools across the district.

Students attended two workshops to prepare before the Australia Day-eve performance at the Gunnedah Town Hall.

They also participated in a short rehearsal with Mr McKenney on the day.

Ms Ryan said the preparation was “seamless” with all students involved thoroughly deserving of the opportunity.

“The kids were well disciplined with the workshops – everyone knew what they had to do,” she said.

“They put in the effort and you could see the results.”

The rendition of the Australian national anthem was a particular highlight and set the stage for more quality performances to follow.

“The way they sung the anthem was a wonderful start to the night,” she said.

Ms Ryan said the conservatorium has been involved with the Australia Day events for about 10 years but this was the most memorable to date.

“It was a great night,” she said.

“The kids really felt they were part of the production – they had a part to play.”

Jamie Brown and Marg Amos were also acknowledged for their efforts in preparation of the conservatorium students for the performance.


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