Postcard from Victoria: Promoting continued engagement with the arts during COVID

Jonathon Glonek, Advance member based in Bendoc, Victoria

By Jonathon Glonek Contributor

I’d never done anything but play the violin when I first took the plunge and went into the international wine business. At that time I was with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and while the concerts were fun, I felt I was treading ABC water and wanted to do something more ambitious; take on the world and music on my own terms and see if I couldn’t do better. I believe many expats share that same vision and drive, and I have come to appreciate that this is something that comes to us through being Australian. Our success and who we are is what this country has made us.

In the heady days of our company, Bangkok Fine Wine, my business partner Pat and I were at the helm like a couple of fearless pirates. We were an instant success and we knew it. Despite the standard setbacks, the company went from strength to strength seemingly quite effortlessly.  And none more shocked than ourselves. But in truth we did a great job.  We scored major hits with our product lines and exported to several regional markets. And hand in hand I took on over 120 programs of the solo violin repertoire. But a day arrived that presented an insurmountable obstacle; government tax that essentially closed the entire legal import market down.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. I always worked to maintain a connection and presence in Australia throughout my 25 years away in Bangkok, and cannot overstate the importance of doing so.

When the crunch time did arrive, I thankfully did not find myself without a chair due to my continued connections in Australia. It is easy to become caught up in success and become established elsewhere, but the current turmoil that COVID-19 has created globally proves the value of being home.

I miss the hit of the big city life, the culture and the way business is done. But I don’t miss the burnout that goes with it and the great gift that Australia provides is a perfect setting in which to regain superb physical health and a clean canvas to move around the mental furniture. These things are incredibly valuable and a great resource that we should also subscribe to backing our various professional directives.

And so I find myself in one of the most Australian of all settings – The Victorian High Country town of Bendoc. Population 40. The Bendoc Philharmonic has become my focus, as I had always wanted it to be. I have also enjoyed my collaboration working with young artists making fine music, and sharing my experience as they must learn to negotiate a precarious existence in the world COVID has delivered. I have set up an Australian Cultural Fund page to make The Bendoc Philharmonic performances available to people in rural and urban areas internationally via recorded sessions. This is an extremely important project and well worthy of support.

Connect with Jonathon

Jonathon Glonek is CEO at Steiner Global Services Pty Ltd and a violinist for The Bendoc Philharmonic, living in the Victorian High Country town of Bendoc. You can find him on Facebook and YouTube to keep up to date with the latest, and he encourages anyone who needs a good bottle of wine to let him know!