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NEWS > Alumnae News > How a winning essay and a trumpeting angel became our Music Festival Spirit Cup

How a winning essay and a trumpeting angel became our Music Festival Spirit Cup

From an essay about a Christmas tree to the annual Spirit Cup, the story of the Margaret Evans Music Trophy traces back to the inaugural Music Festival of 1972.
5 Jul 2021
Alumnae News
The Margaret Evans Music Trophy, first awarded in 1972, was won by Mulhall at 2021 Music Festival.
The Margaret Evans Music Trophy, first awarded in 1972, was won by Mulhall at 2021 Music Festival.

Those in attendance at this year’s Music Festival would have taken note of the elegant bronze statue awarded to Mulhall House when they won the Spirit Cup. As it happens, the story of this trophy traces back to the first official Music Festival. Although recitals and concerts have been commonplace at Loreto Normanhurst since our foundation, Sr Deirdre Browne inaugurated the event that is now a mainstay of the Normo calendar in 1972.

It was also Sr Deirdre who suggested that Margaret Evans (’76), then in Year 8, donate a prize she had won in a Sydney essay-writing competition towards a Music Festival award. The competition held by The Sun newspaper required contestants to respond to the theme ‘the meaning of the Christmas tree’ in order to enter the running to win prize money for their school. Margaret’s entry was selected in first place, her winnings contributing to the 'Margaret Evans Music Trophy.' The trophy was carved by Sr Francine Roberts IBVM.

Margaret and Sr Deirdre Rofe

We were honoured to hear from Margaret, now based in the United States, about her recollections of the trophy and about the ongoing role music has played in her life.

I don’t remember too much about the time Sister Deirdre Browne asked me if it’d be okay for Loreto Normanhurst to use the school’s share of my prize money from an essay contest run by The Sun newspaper. But I can still recall the swirling mix of embarrassment and pride when Sr. Deirdre also said they’d name the trophy the “Margaret Evans Music Trophy.”

When my classmates asked if that was me, I mostly fumbled about with feeble fibs. I suppose teenage me cringed at the thought that people would think I was old or dead or, even worse, that I was full of myself. I loved singing, though, and Sr. Deirdre, too. How amazing that she and Sr. Deirdre Rofe would show a student the respect of seeking permission?

I’d bought a guitar with my share of the winnings and threw myself into learning and improving. My whole family quickly tired of hearing me stumble through 'Banks of the Ohio'! The whole idea of a music festival was fantastic, and I entered lots of categories myself and with other girls. Plus, I joined the always brilliant Ward House choir. (Go Blue!) It was the most fun—a great way to nurture talent and foster school spirit. Everyone was welcome to take part. I looked forward to the Music Festival every year.

Soon after I graduated, I started performing in pubs, universities, and other venues around Sydney. It didn’t occur to me that I was being bold in contacting these places and negotiating gigs. I was just giving it a go—an approach I felt was encouraged at Loreto and in my own family.  

Fast forward almost 50 years, and I now feel nothing but pride for my small role in the early years of the Music Festival. Little did any of us know back then that it would blossom into the event that it is today. Now I live in Boston, Massachusetts, where I sing in several choirs, often thinking back to those wonderful times at Normo. Congrats on a half century of brilliance! 

Margaret Evans ('76)

Margaret’s sister, Tritia Evans (‘72) also fondly remembers Margaret’s success and how it transformed the inaugural Music Festival. She tells of how the whole Evans family anxiously awaited the announcement of the competition winner, worried that Margaret's determined hopes would be dashed, and how this quickly turned into pride upon Margaret's success.

“I well remember how embarrassed she felt about the trophy name,” Tritia says of Margaret. “Nevertheless, we were humbled by her self-belief, proud of her and taken aback by her winning a competition that had thousands of entries.”

Tritia was also delighted to attend this year’s Music Festival at the ICC in Darling Harbour, her first since graduating in 1972.

"I was deeply impressed by how the event was student-led and by how much thought and passion they put into their performances and presentations," she shared. "While there, I recognised the trumpeting angel trophy from 50 years ago and told my friends the story... Inevitably things change and, although the trophy no longer carries Margaret's name, the theme of the story is timeless."

Just as music has remained an integral part of life for the Evans sisters, the trophy has remained integral to nearly fifty years' worth of Music Festivals. Indeed, as we approach the 50th Anniversary of the Music Festival in 2022, stories like Margaret's demonstrate just how many unique individuals and experiences contribute to our shared history.

Special thanks to Margaret and Tritia Evans for their generosity in sharing their memories. We always delight in hearing stories from our alumnae. We invite members of our community to email us with their own memories and photographs, or to post them directly on the Normo Network where they may be featured at the discretion of the Community Engagement team. 

Margaret Evans Music Trophy in 1977

Margaret Evans Music Trophy in 1992/1993

Margaret Evans Music Trophy (Spirit Cup) in 2019

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