Graeme Vendy Symphonic Band perform for the music legend

Graeme Vendy OAM was the Director of Music at Ballarat Clarendon College between 1984 and 1999. During his time at Clarendon, Graeme was pivotal in increasing interest in the performing arts among students and led several international music experiences in China, Europe, Hawaii, Japan and Singapore.

The overseas tours, Graeme said, make up some of his fondest memories as a teacher at Clarendon.

“The program excelled because the students were so positive and were invested in the music,” he said. “I took them overseas every two to three years and that is something I will always be proud of.”

Graeme, having studied piano and cornet while a student at Ballarat High School, soon became heavily involved with school and local musical groups, choirs and theatres. In 1963, he became Musical Director of Channel 6 television show, Teentime, working with Australian artists including Olivia Newton-John and the Bee Gees.

In 1967, he formed a brass group, the Vibratones, which appeared regularly on the National Graeme Kennedy Tonight Show. These performances saw him invited to act as Musical Director for the Channel 6 Tonight Show in 1972.

Locally, he is known for his involvement in Ballarat Lyric Theatre, of which he was President. He also served on St Matthew’s vestry, the Ryder-Cheshire Committee, the Ballarat District Community Trust and various school committees.

In 2002, Graeme was awarded an Order of Australia for his service to the community of Ballarat, particularly through his involvement in music education and the performing arts.

“Graeme Vendy put Ballarat Clarendon College on the map as a school that was serious about music and nurtured its young musicians,” said Head of Performing Arts, Steven Belcher. “He built the foundations on which our Performing Arts Department stands and remains close to everything we do. He always said that you never stop learning and that it’s all about the kids – fostering and facilitating their love of music and performing arts through the experiences you provide them with and how you nurture them.”

Last year, Clarendon named their senior concert band the Graeme Vendy Symphonic Band in honour of Graeme and, recently, the band was thrilled to visit and play in front of Graeme. Having heard much about him, students felt privileged to showcase their skills and talent in front of Graeme.

“It was so special to watch their performance, given I lived that lifestyle for 15 years at Clarendon,” said Graeme. “I loved teaching at Clarendon and providing students with experiences that saw them and the program improve out of sight.”