Tribute to Elizabeth Roberts

Vale Elizabeth Pamela Roberts 1923 – 2018

Elizabeth Roberts led a wonderful life and left the ACO an extraordinary gift.

The ACO recently received an unexpected gift from the late Elizabeth (Liz) Roberts, and since then we have learned more about Liz and the remarkable life she led, particularly as an intrepid traveller.

Liz grew up on her family’s sheep property near Roma in Queensland.  Initially tutored by governesses and enjoying the life of a tomboy on the farm with her older sister, Liz later attended PLC Pymble and Sydney University after the family left the land and moved to Sydney.  Liz excelled academically, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours, majoring in Anthropology and English. She also excelled in sport, being awarded university blues in hockey and athletics.

Liz’s career started in academic roles at Sydney University and University College in London and then saw her undertake a variety of research and administrative roles in the financial and mining industries.  Retrenched during the recession of 1974-75, Liz enrolled in Arabic studies at Sydney University, again completing a degree with honours.  

Liz’s mastery of Arabic led to her pursuing archaeological work overseas taking her from Pella in Greece to Jerash in Jordan.  Liz spent 14 happy years living in a simple two-room concrete house overlooking a vineyard in a village called Dhahr Sirou in the Jordanian highlands on the edge of the Great Syrian desert.  She was widely respected in the local community, assisting village children with English tuition after work, raising money to put girls through tertiary education and supporting many charitable causes, particularly animal welfare causes.

Back in Australia, Liz continued to support her village community in Jordan while immersing herself in her local community in Sydney.  Her adored cat, Farid, was a special love and Liz always spoke to him in Arabic. Liz has been described as forthright and determined, vibrant and feisty, lively and adventurous and always interested in young people.  

Liz was introduced to the ACO by one of her neighbours, and while it’s not clear that she had a particular interest in music herself, it’s thought that her gift reflected her belief in the need to support the arts and culture and to honour her mother who had studied singing in London.

Although we were thrilled to receive it, we are sorry we didn’t know about the gift Liz left the ACO in her will before she died, so that we may have been able to thank her personally and involve her more closely in the life of the Orchestra during her lifetime.  

We are enormously honoured to be the beneficiaries of Liz’s generosity through her most special gift.  This gift will help to ensure that the ACO plays on for future generations and will leave an enduring legacy.

If you are considering leaving the ACO a gift in your will or if you have already done so, please do let us know as we would love to welcome you as a member of our Continuo Circle.  Please feel free to contact Lillian Armitage on 02 8274 3827 or at [email protected]