The head of the ANU School of Music has made a surprise on-stage appearance with the Rolling Stones, joining the world’s most famous rock band for part of their Australian tour.
Professor Peter Tregear was chosen to lead an on-stage choir for the Rolling Stones concerts in Victoria.
Appearing in front of more than 20,000 fans was a major change for Professor Tregear, who is classically-trained and lists his expertise as western music history, music in film, Australian music history, music aesthetics, opera and music theatre.
“If I had been told when I was younger that my classical music degree would lead to performing with the Rolling Stones I would have said, ‘yeah, right’,” he said.
Professor Tregear led a group of singers for the Stones’ classic You Can’t Always Get What You Want.
His appearance conducting the choir attracted considerable media attention, with the Canberra Times saying he “may well be the coolest educator in the country”.
Professor Tregear’s time with the Rolling Stones started when a contact in Britain started asking about choirs in Australia.
He quickly offered his services, and took on the job of organising choirs for each of the Australian concerts.
“I was asked earlier this year to provide a choir for Melbourne and also recommend choirs for each of the tour locations for the Rolling Stones Australian ‘On Fire’ Tour,” he said.
“This was to perform with the Rolling Stones their rock anthem ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’, which begins with a choral solo.
“I travelled to Melbourne to rehearse with the band, and we performed to a capacity audience of some 20,000.”
He was sworn to secrecy, and had to wait eight months to tell anyone after the Australian tour was postponed from early in the year.
Professor Tregear said it was a joy to hang out with the band, who were generous with their time and made the choir members feel welcome backstage and on stage.
The whole experience, he said, proves what can happen when you have a degree in classical music.