Wollongong-born violinist and artistic director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra Richard Tognetti said he is "humbled" to be nominated to receive the keys to the city of his hometown.
The city's Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery will move on Monday that the 54-year-old maestro be given the honour in recognition of his "connection to Wollongong" and the "outstanding contribution" he has made to music in Australia and overseas.
On Friday Tognetti told the Mercury he was "very humbled" by the recognition.
"Sometimes I think about Wollongong and love Wollongong more than it thinks about me," he said.
"But here we go. My biggest concern at the moment is that soon the Town Hall will be filled with music again and I'm hoping that somehow we can get through this so I can bring the orchestra back."
The scars may have healed but the memories remain of the ruckus caused when Tognetti spoke about his sometimes complicated relationship with his hometown, to Coastal Style magazine in 2010. He was criticised for talking about Wollongong's "dark, troubled" side, for saying Wollongong had not been "beautified", that he had a hard time at school as a violinist.
But that's Tognetti - he won't give rah-rah cheerleading if it's not honest. His version of care for his hometown means speaking up when it deserves better - like when he helped lead the successful campaign to save the Wollongong Town Hall from demolition.
"Those words ... came out of a love for the place, not a rejection of the place," he said.
"The big difference with me from other Wollongong-ites is that I keep coming back. And I take an [expletive] orchestra.
"Apart from the fact my folks, and brother, and friends live there, I would go back in any case."
In March the ACO was forced to cancel an anticipated tour featuring composer Arvo Part, one of the earliest casualties of the lockdown. Tognetti said once the ACO can start touring again - perhaps next year - they will bring that tour to Wollongong as planned.
Funnily enough, it won't be Tognetti's first set of city keys - he was given the all-areas pass to Maribor in Slovenia, where he directed the alpine city's music festival for seven years until 2015. "The keys to Wollongong city are far more important of course," he said.
The next tour was likely to include music by Jimmy Barnes - the new song Texas Girl at the Funeral of her Father on which the ACO features.
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