Friday, February 9, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

A Musical Journey Of Honour And Community

By Hannah McNamara

In the realm of music's enchanting notes, Kenneth Martin recently claimed the prestigious Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). A melody maestro, his life's composition harmonises with this revered accolade, often referred to as the nation’s greatest honour.

In an interview with Mackay Life, he shares his thoughts on the significance of the OAM and reflects on his musical journey.

Amid humility and surprise, Mr Martin selflessly underlined that many others are deserving of this accolade. However, this particular recognition highlights the unique impact of his dedication to the world of art and music, serving as a testament to a lifetime devoted to the pursuit of musical excellence.

“It’s a great honour and I’m quite surprised,” Mr Martin said.

“Many people deserve awards, none the less it’s good to know this one relates in particular to art and music.

Born and raised in London, Mr Martin’s journey into the realm of music began during his school days in England when he joined the choir. Fate had a different path for him as his family migrated to Australia. It was in Mackay where he found himself entwined with the local choir, all thanks to some persuasive encouragement from his partner at the time.

“My then-fiancé – now wife conned me into joining the choir,” he laughed.

Reflecting on the source of unwavering support throughout his musical journey, he looks close to home when it comes to the encouragement he has received throughout the years.

“My wife is my biggest supporter,” he said.

“Now that I’m with the Mackay Choral Society I get great support there as well, I’ve been with them for nearly 50 years,” Mr Martin explains.

During his time as President of the Mackay Choral Society, Mr Martin initiated the construction of a new hall, which has since become a symbol of their great growth and success.

“Rehearsal facilities were in the old butter factory and before that they were held at church halls as we didn’t have our own premises,” he said.

“I became the president and instigated the need for a new hall – and we now have it.

“It’s beautiful, fully air conditioned and overall, a great place.”

When asked about his future plans, he joked that he would have to live a long time to accomplish everything in music and community that he desires.

“I’d say living to 150 years old so I can keep going as long as I can!

“The choir has such a strong organisation and I’m still involved.”

Having served as the president for an impressive 25 years and as vice president for another 13, he highlights the choir's resilience and unity, involving around 80 ongoing members, creating a strong and vibrant community. He continues to perform passionately and skilfully without any signs of slowing down.

Fond memories flood his mind as he reflects on his musical journey. From portraying the major general in the recent rendition of "The Pirates of Penzance" to overseeing the renovation of the choir hall, he cherishes numerous moments of joy and achievement. When asked if he would like to share any special memories, Mr Martin recounted, “well, I’ve got too many to report!

“We did the Pirates of Penzance recently and I played the part of the major general.

“I loved it, and the audience did too. On the administration side of things, we renovated the hall to really make it sparkle and I’m very pleased with it.”

The passion and fulfillment derived from contributing to the community radiates through his stories, encapsulating a lifetime dedicated to the pursuit of artistic excellence.

For those wanting to journey into the music industry, Mr Martin offers words of encouragement.

He invites individuals to simply walk in, express interest, and experience the warmth of the choir community. Describing it as a family-like atmosphere, he assures potential members that they will be welcomed and encouraged to sing along. With approximately 40-50 active participants, he emphasises that it is never too late to join and encourages interested individuals to explore more information on the Mackay Choral Society’s Facebook page.

Through his undeniable talent, gratitude and humbleness, OAM awardee Kenneth Martin, provides a glimpse into the profound impact of music on individual lives and communities.

His journey, marked by dedication, leadership, and a sense of belonging, shows the transformative power of artistic expression within Mackay. The Medal of the Order Australia serves as not only a personal honour but also a recognition of the collective efforts that have enriched the life of Mr Martin's musical success.

Kenneth Martin, OAM award winner in rehearsal, 2016. Photo credit: Mackay Choral Society (Facebook)

Ken Martin playing the Major General in the The Pirates of Penzance, 2023

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