Foundation Day and International Women’s Day 2023

It is, I think, a happy coincidence that Brisbane Girls Grammar School’s Foundation Day falls within the week of International Women’s Day. Of course, our School was begun long before the idea of IWD was even conceived and one of the things we are most proud of is that we have not just celebrated the progress of girls and women in our society, but enabled it. The foundation of BGGS 148 years ago on Monday 15th March 1875, in a double storey brick house on George Street with 50 girls and Lady Principal, Mrs Janet O’Connor, was an historically and culturally significant event. It led to generations of women receiving not just an excellent education, but a view of themselves and their valuable contribution that has pioneered extraordinary change and facilitated generous contribution locally, nationally, and around the world.

This week, Josephine Auer (2015) delivered the Foundation Day Address at Assembly—could there be a more suitable speaker? Queensland’s 2023 Rhodes Scholar, Jo returned to her beloved School and shared not just her aspirations for the future and gratitude for her past teachers and the education she had received, but provided a powerful and compelling case for focusing on the here and now—giving your best to every experience in every moment—and the importance of hard work: Nil Sine Labore. She also explained the importance of inspiring women who have led the way and shown us what is possible, understanding perhaps that she has become, most profoundly, such a Grammar Woman herself.

Our International Women’s Day Concert, first staged in 2018, has already become a much beloved and anticipated BGGS tradition. The concert on Friday night was a tangible, musical, and meaningful contribution to furthering the work, the creative talent, and the musicianship of girls and women— from around Australia and indeed the world and, of course, our very own Grammar girls.

Since the concert’s inception, the School has commissioned seven works by female composers and performed the works of 54. We have premiered 21 compositions, including two from students on Friday night with Freya Smith’s (12E) Wildflowers (performed with Chamber Singers), a hauntingly beautiful melody based on Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Lisa Walsham’s (11R) emotive Il Dolce (performed with Chamber Strings). Alumna, Charlotte Parsonage (2022), returned to perform The Kids, which explored the long-held nostalgia for childhood that we can, at times, all relate to.

On arrival at the historic Thomas Dixon Centre, home of Queensland Ballet, pianists Alisa Wang (9R), Sabrina Yong Gee (10H), and Shu-Ning Liang (8O), welcomed guests with a pre-show performance in the foyer. It was a triumphant evening ahead of a week during which both Foundation Day and International Women’s Day were honoured at Girls Grammar.

Ms Jacinda Euler