Originally known as the Nowra Music Club Eisteddfod, the Shoalhaven Eisteddfod as we know it today was established in 1964, the brainchild of Mr Noel Heading, the Music Master at Nowra High School and Mrs Jean Symes, wife of the Presbyterian Minister.
The venue was the new Presbyterian Hall (adjacent to Woolies Carpark) and the 140 entrants performed in a one-day program which included children’s Scottish Dancing (it was a Presbyterian hall!) Vocal, Piano and other instrumental sections.
After twelve years of annual competitions, for reasons now unknown, the Nowra Music Club Eisteddfod ended in 1976.
The City of Shoalhaven Eisteddfod was reborn at a meeting called by Mr Ian Shipway at the Harmony Coffee Inn opposite the Roxy Theatre in August 1984.
The Shoalhaven Festival of the Performing Arts was held on Friday 12th October 1984 in the Wesley Centre. Featuring piano for age groups 19 years and under down to 8 years and under as well as organ sections, the Festival attracted 79 entries and was supported by the Council to the tune of $2000.
Throughout the eighties, the festival included Piano, Choirs, Quartets School Groups, Speech and Drama and Instrumental sections.
As it expanded, the Festival moved to the Nowra School of Arts which remains the “home” of choice for Vocal and Instrumental competitions.
In 1986 the name changed to the City of Shoalhaven Eisteddfod. A total of forty sections were proposed for competition in July of that year. Following the Eisteddfod, a winner’s concert was held.
Under the presidency of Edna Walker OAM, the Shoalhaven Eisteddfod grew in size and quality with entries exceeding 1000 in the Vocal, Dance, Speech and Drama and Instrumental sections with well over 1500 entrants of all ages competing for trophies and prize money exceeding eight thousand dollars. The development of our own computer program to manage the eisteddfod has saved us hours of voluntary work.
Over the years winners of the aria and piano competitions have gone on to make a name for themselves in the highly competitive performance world. Two recent aria winners won scholarships to study in London and Europe. Classical Guitarist Scott Borg won a scholarship to the Juliard School in New York, the only Australian guitarist to do so.
Hundreds of performers give their best in a performance experience, receiving useful guidance from our adjudicators as well as gaining confidence and providing entertainment to thousands.
We continue to enjoy a wonderful festival of performances to brighten up the early winter days of May and June each year.
George Windsor OAM
President 2006 -2018