Nigel Kennedy is an English violinist, famous for bringing classical music to the masses when he sold over two million copies of his above album in 1989.1 But did you know of his connection to Taree? Nigel’s grandparents were Lauri Kennedy, internationally-renowned cellist and Dorothy McBride, Australian pianist who accompanied Lauri. In 1945 Lauri and Dorothy Kennedy bought Fotheringham’s Hotel in Taree.2
Lauri Kennedy, like his grandson Nigel, showed great musical promise and was noticed by Dame Nellie Melba who encouraged him to study in New York. Lauri and Dorothy followed Melba’s advice and afterwards worked around the world including London and Hollywood.3 Wanting a break from the rigours of performance, the couple bought the two storey, 50 room hotel when they couldn’t find a suitable house in Sydney. They wanted to bring new ideas to Taree including a beer garden, rooftop garden, an extra bar and beer available everyday instead of three days a week.4
Unfortunately, Taree wasn’t ready for change (except beer available daily). The couple left after 18 months because they couldn’t implement their ideas and State laws wouldn’t support them. Dorothy said “Taree is one of the prettiest spots I’ve seen anywhere but nothing much is being done to attract people there.”5 They returned to world touring but did not forget Taree. Their son John Kennedy, also a famous cellist, came to Taree in 1950 to perform a concert, including a free one for school students.6 Lauri and Dorothy later ran another pub in Sydney before moving to the US where Lauri died in 1985.7
Author: Janine Roberts
1 Wikipedia, Nigel Kennedy, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigel_Kennedy.
2 The Sun, 4 March 1945, 11.
3 Australian Dictionary of Biography http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/kennedy-irvine-robert-laurie-lauri-12730.
4 Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of NSW, 10 July 1946, 2.
6 Northern Champion, 28 October 1950, 1.
7 Daily Telegraph, 7 June 1952, 11; Australian Dictionary of Biography http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/kennedy-irvine-robert-laurie-lauri-12730.
8 Sydney Mail, 29 December 1937, 33.