ANPA Blog

Erna Werner

Erna Werner, one of the founding members of the Australian National Piano Award, died on September 15 in Geelong following a short illness.  ANPA President, Darryl Coote, paid tribute to Erna as one of the co-founders of the Award and as the person who had suggested the need for a major national piano competition.  “Erna was the media office of ANPA for many years and in addition to that, she undertook a great deal of administration for, and promotion of, the Award.  ANPA was not the only entity in Shepparton to which Erna and her husband Neil contributed, so it was fitting that, upon their retirement to Point Lonsdale, the ANPA Board did not hesitate to invite Erna and Neil to become honorary life members of ANPA.  Despite ill-health in her last years, Erna remained of cheery and positive disposition always.  ANPA has a great deal for which to thank Erna and we will miss her friendship and infectious sense of humour.  Life-time friend Norm described Erna as “a breath of fresh air, vivacious and ready to give her opinions, fresh ideas, and prepared to do the work to make things happen”.

Erna and Neil Werner OAM moved to Shepparton more than 40 years ago and established Werner’s Pharmacy in the main street.  They quickly became involved in community activities. Erna was a businesswoman, a community worker, a founding board member of the Goulburn Valley Grammar School, a Trustee of the Mechanics Institute and acted as publicist for Shepparton Villages.  Through the community organisation Lifeline Erna, together with Neil, provided support for refugees and others in the community who needed help.  She was awarded the Centenary Medal and was named Shepparton’s Woman of the Year in 1995 by the Business and Professional Women’s Group.

Erna’s passion however was for the arts and music. Erna helped to found the Shepparton Light Music Company before it merged with the Shepparton Dramatic Society, eventually becoming the Shepparton Theatre Arts Group (STAG).  While Erna immersed herself in acting and directing roles, her husband Neil sold tickets at the pharmacy

In the late 1980’s, Erna and Neil were part of a small group of like-minded music lovers who formed a voluntary group called the Shepparton Performing Arts Association (SPAA), bringing music performances and theatre to the Goulburn Valley, before the existence of Eastbank and Riverlinks.  In 1990, the board members of SPAA decided to develop something for Shepparton and young musicians.  An eisteddfod was held but the schools of the time were not interested enough for it to continue.

It was Erna who suggested a piano competition:  a competition which would recognise outstanding young pianists across Australia and prepare them for international competitions and careers.  Piano master-classes were already being held each year in Shepparton by the Melbourne-based Team of Pianists (TOP), led by internationally recognised pianist Professor Max Cooke and supported by Darryl Coote, Robert Chamberlain and other members of the TOP.  The idea was discussed with Max, who was enthusiastic and willing to provide the expertise and knowledge that underpins this uniquely Australian Award.  Local philanthropic fund, the Fairley Foundation, donated the seeding money to enable the first competition to be held in 1992.

Beginning as the Shepparton Piano Award and held every two years, it became incorporated in 1996 to become the Australian National Piano Award (ANPA).  Funding was difficult in the early years and Professor Max Cooke’s suggestion to the ANPA to approach Dame Elisabeth Murdoch was successful, easing the financial strain.  Dame Elisabeth continued her support until her death.  Now in its 28th year, more than 150 young pianists have competed at Shepparton with many going on to international careers.

Erna and her husband Neil were a wonderful team.  They worked tirelessly with the group to acquire the $240,000 Steinway for the City of Greater Shepparton to achieve the highest quality performances at the biennial competition.   Erna with her journalistic abilities also wrote and edited the Forte Newsletter.  Neil served as President of the Piano Award for many years.  On their retirement to Point Lonsdale (Victoria) they were honoured as Life Members of ANPA.

We are thankful … for Erna’s energy, enthusiasm, dedication andcommitment to the Award over many years and her contribution to its success.

Oliver She (pronounced 'Shay') shares a little bit about himself

He was born in China, but has been living in Queensland for many years (apart from when he is travelling). He has just returned from the U.K. to make it to Shepparton. And he gets regular cravings for Kentucky Fried Chicken

Continue reading

A sneak peak, profiling Ben Austin

Ben entered the Award in 2014 and made it to the Semi-finals - He was voted "Most popular" by the audience and here is his story

Continue reading

Steinway pianos on the way to Shepparton

Our partner Mark O'Connor from EPG/Steinway Australia is gearing up to transport their magnificent pianos to some of the billetors homes so that the pianists can practice in style, when they aren't competing on stage 5 - 10 September.

Continue reading

Alex Raineri will hand over the Award's winner title soon

In only a few week Alex Raineri will pass on his Award to one of our 12 new pianists. In the meantime he has a concert coming up at Australian National Academy of Music August 26 - definitely worth attending

Continue reading

This man and his team record the final notes of the Award

Q&A with Haig Burnell who is the genius working behind the scenes recording the music to then broadcast it nationally on ABC Classic FM so you can tune in to our pianists

Continue reading

The Silent Showman - history of Tallis Wines

The Silent Showman - Sir George Tallis 1869 – 1948 George Tallis arrived in Melbourne in 1886 as a 17 year old Irish immigrant with 14 shillings in his pocket. He secured a job as a junior with a growing theatrical concern run by the great actor/manager JC Williamson.

Continue reading

"High standards" at recent Steinway Malaysia Comp.

Malaysia: 3rd Steinway Malaysia Youth Piano Competition - President of Australian National Piano Award invited to adjudicate

Continue reading

Raineri wins Australian National Piano Award

Queensland music student Alex Raineri produced a stunning performance at Shepparton's Eastbank Centre to place first in the Australian National Piano Award.

Continue reading

Music making of the highest calibre blows away both judges and audience, and we have a WINNER!

Considered the most unique and prestigious event of its kind in Australia for under 35 year old classical pianists, the Australian National Piano Award 2014 has a winner. Alex Raineri (first prize); Daniel Le (second) and John Fisher (third prize), plus more was on offer for the pianists last night.

Continue reading

What have they chosen to play at the "Grands"?

Check this site to see what our star performers have chosen to plerform tonight at the Grand Finals - starts at 8pm and runs through to 11.30pm. Saturday 13 September, 2014

Continue reading

Media Contact Details

ANPA Publicity & Communications is managed by Nicola Archer Communications.
Email: nicola@nicolaarcher.com – Mob: 0419 002 769

Erna