In 2005 the Australian Government sponsored a Fiddle Festival at Richmond. At the Festival Mike Cowdroy met Alex Deme. Alex asked Mike if he would like to get together to play violin in the future. Mylene, over hearing the conversation asked if she could come too. Both said yes. Mike and Bev (who was also at the festival) met another person Lee and this became the catalyst to the formation of Innominato. Bev was going overseas and contacted Lee on her return to find that Mike had monthly Sunday sessions at his house in Petersham and gave Bev his number to contact. Bev went along the very next week to a session and met other players Alex and Mylene from the Fiddle Festival and cellist Aneva who Mike knew from another group. Mike’s cat also attended these sessions.
Soon there too many players for Mike’s lounge room so rehearsals moved to Bev’s house at Five Dock (tight squeeze 10 at the most). It was then decided to have a Thursday night practice as well. Mylene’s violin teacher’s best friend Wanda a former music teacher and cellist was welcomed into the group. Next to come was Rob a cellist who worked with Lee, the catalyst who unknowingly started the whole thing off.
At the next year’s Fiddle Festival Mike met Jasna and her sister-in-law Sally (Biskupic) and convinced them to come along to play. Later that year came viola players Linlee and Annie. They had put an ad at ‘The String Centre’ notice board saying ‘two violists looking for an orchestra. Coincidently, at the same time Wanda happened to be putting up a note there about the group wanting viola players to play in Bev’s lounge room, they met and agreed to come along as well.
As we collected more players we decided we should have an orchestra name – we put our names into a band name app and out came ‘Fatty Mike and the Melons’ we liked it and laughed but it didn’t really fit who we were. Bev suggested Anonymous Orchestra and Mylene eventually came up with ‘Innominato Strings’ being Italian for no name and it sounded just right for our motley strings group.
In 2006 Mylene invited Vincent Allan, to be the Innominato Strings conductor. Vincent is a talented violinist who owns the Vivaldi Violin Shop in Epping and he agreed to be the conductor. Mylene’s sister-in-law worked at Our Lady of Dolors Church in Chatswood and she somehow arranged for a classroom at the Our Lady of Dolors Primary School next to the church where we stayed for about 10 years. We started with every second Sunday but we were so bad Vincent suggested we have a Wednesday practise as well. Around this time we changed to Wednesday nights and every second Sunday. June, 2007 Innominato Strings first performance was Theme by Thomas Tallis (5 players – mainly open strings) invited to play by Our Lady of Dolors Church Community at their International Night.
27 December 2005
Back row: Aneva, Alex (behind) Mylene, Rob
Front row: Mike, Bev and Suzie
After parting ways with Vincent in 2014 we were fortunate enough to have Anthea Hetherington to be our conductor for Wednesdays and Sundays. We had about 12 players at that stage both on Wednesdays and Sundays and Anthea gave us the music and tuition we needed to be able to play it. Anthea did an amazing job of increasing our playing skills with patience and kindness and we are very grateful to her. In 2017, due to other commitments Anthea decided she could not continue being our conductor and suggested her husband Paul Taylor, a professional cellist and teacher could take over as conductor. We welcomed the idea but were sad to lose Anthea. Paul had his first session with Innominato at Our Lady Of Dolors, Chatswood on Wednesday 3 May 2017 and has been our conductor every since. Using his unique style and knowledge he has formed us into a proper orchestra with lot of laughs along the way. We congratulated him last year when he was appointed Head of Strings at The Kings School, Parramatta as well as our conductor.
Innominato continued moving forward gaining players and losing some but steadily reaching near to 40 around 2020 when covid struck. This event was catastrophic to players who could no longer play with others in an orchestra. We had only one concert during 2020 playing for ourselves with no audience – very sad. During the lockdowns some players used Zoom and other programs like Jamulus and that was the highlight of the week for many. Didn’t matter if there was static, time delay, dropouts, people interrupting from overseas during our sessions we battled on.
Finally covid restrictions were lifted only to find out we were homeless! From 2018 we had been at St Ignatius College, Riverview for both Wednesdays, Sundays and concerts Because the college was closed down during covid and did not reopen to the public at the same time as we could play, we found a new home at Lane Cove Golf Club for a short time and then moved on the Henley Community Centre Green Room for rehearsals and Henley Hall for concerts thanks to Hunters Hill Council who charge a minimum rental to our community orchestra.
In 2022 a fresh new website was set up which has led to many prospective players contacting Innominato to become members and player numbers have increased. New members are encouraged to come along to a session or two before committing to membership. For our November 2022 concert we performed two original compositions by one of our members, David Hines – “Innominato Serenade” played by the orchestra and “Lullaby in D” played by second violins The items were warmly received.
Today Innominato Orchestra continues to go from strength to strength. If everyone came at the same time we would have over 50 players. There is no set limit on the number of players. The music continues – Paul is our conductor and we have two associate conductors Isaiah Bondfield and Michael Bradshaw should Paul be unavailable. Our thanks to all three.
We are in new music mode practising for our next concert on Sunday 5 November 2023 at Henley Hall 2pm-4pm. Hope to see you there!