Nambucca choral queen awarded OAM

Long service: Phyllis Pearson OAM has been recognised for her contribution to the arts, music and the community of Nambucca Heads.
Long service: Phyllis Pearson OAM has been recognised for her contribution to the arts, music and the community of Nambucca Heads.

PHYLLIS Pearson has hit many high notes during her lifetime but being recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list is to her, right on song.

Ms Pearson, who moved to Nambucca Heads in 1985, has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the General Division for service to music and the arts, and to the community of the Nambucca region.

“I am very surprised and humbled to have been recognised in this way,” Miss Pearson said.

“I almost feel a bit guilty about being singled out because everything I have ever done has always been as part of a group.”

Miss Pearson, a teacher by training, grew up on a farm where her mother and uncle both played the piano.

“We had a beautiful gramophone and one of the first records I remember my father buying was an overture of one of Mozart’s operas.”

Miss Pearson was a member of the Tamworth Choral Society between 1949 and 1969 and taught music at town’s Calrossy Girls’ School from 1952 to 1983. In recognition of her 31-year contribution, the new music space at the school was named the Phyllis Pearson Room.

“My main interest was in choral music and in 1974 and 1976 my Calrossy choirs were invited to perform at the Opera House.”

Miss Pearson never planned on continuing with music when she retired to the coast.

“But the Anglican minister’s wife was an ex-pupil from Calrossy and almost immediately she had a choir together for me to direct,” she said.

Far from enjoying the lazy retirement she planned, Miss Pearson was to become a founding member of the Valley Community Arts and remains a board member of the Nambucca Valley Arts Council. In that role she was a driving force in the acquisition of a grand piano for the Nambucca Heads Entertainment Centre.

Miss Pearson was also the director of music at St John the Baptist Anglican Church in Nambucca Heads in the 1990s but nowadays limits her involvement to being part of the choir.

“I’m 87 now and a bit deaf but I still love to sing,” she said.

“Thankfully no-one has complained that I’m singing off key as yet.”

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