Volunteer Story - Jean Bourgault
Mundaring resident Jean Bourgault (nee Macgregor) has devoted her life to sharing her love of musical performance, with children and adults alike.
The multi-talented 80-year-old is energetic and enthusiastic about everything she does, and simply lives for music.
Jean joined the Hills Choir in 1997 where she volunteered her expertise as a conductor and musical director for 12 years (2001-2013).
In 2015 she was coaxed out of retirement to conduct two concerts in celebration of the choir's 30th anniversary in 2016.
Early years and career
From her earliest years Jean was fascinated by musical performance and the stage.
With a mother who was an amateur actress and singer, and a father who loved and performed music, it is not surprising she was encouraged to take piano lessons from the age of seven, or that by age nine, she organised her friends to give a concert for the Red Cross.
During her schooling at Perth College Jean gained distinctions in music in her Junior and Leaving Certificates. She then attended the University of Western Australia and studied Music and Music Education. Then, while completing her country practice at Bridgetown District High School, it was suggested she conduct the school choir in front of the visiting Superintendent of Music, Edgar Nottage.
Clearly very impressed with Jean's skills, Mr Nottage asked if she would accept a position as Musical Specialist at a high school the following year. Of course this was 'music to her ears'!
Jean taught at Governor Stirling High School for two years, before marrying Henry Bourgault. The pair went to teach in Geraldton and Jean was once again involved in musical performance, producing the operetta, Papageno, an adaptation of the Magic Flute by Mozart, with great musical and theatrical success.
Jean and Henry moved to Mt Helena in 1961 where they raised their four sons.
She returned to teaching part-time at Mt Helena Primary School in 1972, then went on to Eastern Hills Senior High School in 1973 and commenced her long association with Eastern Hills Senior High School, teaching music and being involved with musicals. Jean had a spell of teaching at Chidlow Primary School for five years, while still teaching part-time at Eastern Hills, and during these years, both schools' choirs performed regularly at music festivals and at the "Schools Make Music" concert at the Perth Concert Hall.
Upon retiring from classroom teaching in December 1996 Jean immediately immersed herself in the Hills Choir and joined the University of Western Australia Choral Society (UWACS). This was her first taste of singing with an adult choir and she relished the wider repertoire it offered.
In 1998 she became involved with the Mundaring Performing Arts Society as programme organiser. The Society was formed to highlight the need for a dedicated performance venue in the shire.
At the time, the Weir Hotel offered the only grand piano in a public space and so over eight years' monthly concerts were held where both local and metropolitan musicians provided the community with live entertainment. These concerts helped to launch a number of emerging artists. The Mundaring Performing Arts Society was responsible for organising choral festivals for adults and school choirs which proved to be very worthwhile for the community.
Members of the Hills Choir say they are very grateful for all the years Jean has volunteered her expertise both as a conductor and musical director. She and Henry have passed on their love of music to their sons and grandchildren and Jean, who has touched many people during her years of enthusiastic teaching, conducting and performing, continues to inspire others with her love of music today.
Below are links to past Inspiration Zone stories:
Joan Crawford Wally Winfield Ted Barbour
Kath Longley Simone Hicks Duncan Cornwallis
John Coultham Trish Macey Les and Shirley Stratton