Janet and Patrick Forbes

A lifetime dedicated to the love of music

We meet some long-running ACO supporters, Patrick and Janet Forbes from Adelaide, as they visit our Pier 2/3 home during a visit to Sydney for Janet's 90th birthday.

A well-travelled family

ACO subscribers and patrons from Adelaide, Patrick and Janet Forbes have been married for 67 years having met at a friend’s wedding in Sydney.

Janet was born in Adelaide but spent her early years in England up to the war. She lived in Adelaide and then Melbourne after the war.

Patrick who was born in Sydney, hails from a military family which eventually took him to Adelaide where he had attended boarding school. Patrick’s career after university took him into the army in Korea and Japan, and later he served as a Senior Australian Trade Commissioner, which took the young Forbes family all over the world – including Hong Kong, Germany, Eastern Europe, New Zealand and the Pacific.

They have four sons, two of whom live In Australia. Tony the eldest lives in Kenya and the youngest Angus lives in the UK with his wife, former Prima Ballerina, Darcey Bussell. They have nine grandchildren and one great grandchild.


Avid supporters of music and the arts in Australia

Patrick and Janet love getting out, and are avid music-lovers and concert-goers, subscribing to the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, the Australian String Quartet and, of course, the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

They remember when the Adelaide Festival first began over 60 years ago and recall that they pledged 25 pounds (which they did not have) “as surety” for the new initiative. They have been regular attendees ever since.

They also love to attend performances at the beautiful UKARIA centre at the edge of the Adelaide Hills.

Apart from their shared love of music, they both enjoy reading and Patrick particularly enjoys reading biographies. Janet used to teach English to migrants which she found very satisfying.


A family piano that travelled the world with them

Both Patrick and Janet learned to play the piano at different points in their lives. While Patrick’s piano playing days were short-lived, he recalls gathering around the piano with his siblings on Sunday evenings and singing along to his mother’s playing.

When Patrick and Janet lived in Hamburg, Patrick bought Janet a piano (imported from the former Czechoslovakia) so that she could resume playing and take lessons. Like Janet and Patrick, the piano travelled the world, going to Auckland with them where Janet once again took lessons before it settled in Adelaide with them.


An ACO recommendation in print

Patrick and Janet have been coming to concerts for such a long time that they find it hard to pinpoint the exact memory, but they think they came to hear about the ACO through Limelight magazine.


Caught up in the magic: what it was like to hear the ACO for the first time

Without hesitating, they both mention how, when they first heard the ACO play, they were drawn to Richard Tognetti’s presence and personality on stage; “We got caught up in the magic,” Janet says.


There's always something different

Patrick talks about how he admires the Orchestra’s ability to breathe new life into something familiar, such as the Felix Mendelssohn Concerto for Violin and Piano in D minor, which Richard performed at Adelaide Town Hall with Russian pianist, Polina Leschenko during the ACO’s last subscription tour this year. Patrick marvels at Richard and the Orchestra’s vision in bringing the unexpected to audiences – “there’s always something different,” he says.


A favourite ACO memory...?

Janet says that a recent outstanding memory was the performance of The Four Seasons earlier this year. Hearing the blend of Eastern instruments and influences with guest artists Joseph and James Tawadros, alongside Vivaldi’s classic work, was a stand-out.


Asked to describe the ACO in one or two words, Patrick and Janet said:

“Classically different” - Patrick
“Outstanding!” - Janet