Karl Ellison asked for a short write-up on the February AMICA convention
held in Australia and New Zealand, and I thought I'd give it a try.
There will be a full version in the AMICA bulletin for May/June.
AMICA had it's 2001 Convention in Australia and New Zealand in
February, and the timing couldn't have been better, with the American
dollar strong, strong, strong. The trip didn't cost as much as we had
planned, and bargains abounded.
I have to say right off that it is extremely difficult to cut a report
of this convention down to a size that might fit the MMD format. It
was a wonderful trip, and if I start listing all the things we did I'm
sure it would never see the light of day here, so with that in mind,
I tried to give a capsule edition.
We started off in the lovely town of Melbourne, where the Hilton Hotel
sat right next to a lovely park, across the street from public
transportation, and close enough to everything to satisfy the walkers
who wanted to just roam. The Convention Committee, headed by Jan and
John Ham, had the program planned for us so we could see collections
of mechanical music, wildlife, and the heart of the cities we were to
visit. Each Hotel was picked for its location, giving us the option of
using nearby public transportation or walking.
We visited collections large and small, with some of the finest player
pianos, organs, and music boxes to be seen anywhere. We saw the
magnificent "Taj Mahal" in Sydney, along other wonderful instruments.
Melba Hall was the sight of an organ concert, the workshops, and the
pumper piano contest, won this year by Mike Walter. I should mention
that the piano used this year was a 1928 Beale player piano, an
Australian-made instrument which was a lovely, strong piano, loaned
to us by the parents of Steve Rattle of the Convention Committee.
We visited the Percy Grainger Museum, which was a real treat. Most of
us knew Mr. Grainger from the rolls he made. He was quite a character,
and the Museum let us get to know him better.
We saw old theaters, of which each one was lovelier than the last,
restored lovingly to their original grandeur. We ate on trolley cars
as they rolled around Melbourne, had lunch in an animal sanctuary which
none of us will ever forget, had dinners at the top of the hotels,
lunch at a wonderful Australian winery, and were treated like royalty
everywhere we went.
We were treated to an organ rally at the beach in Geelong. We were
able to visit Sydney Harbor and enjoy the sights of this lovely area.
Most of us managed a harbor trip in our free time.
From Sydney we went to Wellington, New Zealand, and it was off to see
this lovely island. The bus trip was wonderful, traveling through
areas so lush and primeval looking that one half expected to see a
dinosaur peek its head out of the foliage. We went to a Maori village
for an evening's entertainment, had dinner at a local collector's one
night, visited another collector with a wonderful collection, garden,
and art collection. We went to an antique car museum, and to a Musical
Then it was off to Auckland and yet another collector. We had a
wonderful time, and when the convention was over, it was off to the
U.S. for most of the attendees, although some of us did stay on for
It was a wonderful convention, and AMICA has some more great ones
coming up in the years to come. I would urge anyone who is interested
in roll-playing instruments to consider joining and becoming a part of
this fine organization.
Frank & Shirley Nix