(6.30pm, Tuesday 26 February 2013, Sydney Town Hall)
Thank you, [MC]. Good evening, everyone. Welcome to Town Hall.
I would like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who live in our city.
Town Hall has such a long connection with the musical life of Sydney that it's only fitting we host you here tonight in support of one of our great musical institutions, the Sydney Youth Orchestra.
Now celebrating its 40th year, the SYO is clearly no "flash in the pan". Without it, in fact, I wonder where the Sydney Symphony, the Australian Chamber Orchestra or the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra would find so many of their gifted and polished performers.
The SYO has been virtually their training ground since 1973 and Nigel Westlake, Kirsten Williams and Richard Tognetti are just some of its distinguished alumnae.
But outstanding musicians become outstanding only through nurturing and through the sorts of opportunities the Sydney Youth Orchestras provide for young people to practise their art and to perform.
And if we are to have the rich and diverse cultural life all great cities should enjoy, then we need to nurture the organisations which offer the early opportunities for growth and development.
Our Opera House has become a wonderful symbol for Sydney, but it best fulfils its role when it stages outstanding performances for discerning audiences.
The Sydney Youth Orchestras play a significant part in developing both performers and audiences.
Here at the City of Sydney, we've been supporting the SYO since at least 1996. It's an organisation that receives pitifully little government funding, so I hope any potential sponsors here this evening will help support them.
In past years we have given grants for a master-class program and junior proms, as well as support the 2006 tour of Spain and Portugal.
I'm pleased to say that this year, we have greatly reduced hiring fees for the SYO's concert, here in Town Hall in October.
This will include a maxi-sized orchestra of past and present members presenting Mahler's astonishing Sixth Symphony. That's just one of many good reasons to subscribe to the SYO in its 40th anniversary year.
I would like, on behalf of the City, to congratulate the orchestra, its leaders past and present, and to thank everyone involved for its wonderful contribution to the life of our city.
I wish you all a wonderful, celebratory year and a rich and fulfilling future.