Teacher and Conductor ROBERT ROTAR - Honoring 25 Years of Service to Bundaberg’s Cultural Community

Robert Rotar Article


Instrumental music teacher and conductor Robert Rotar has lead orchestras and bands in the Bundaberg region for a quarter of century. His vibrant energy and prodigious teaching talent has inspired thousands of students to choose an instrument and learn to play it well, for the love of music, for brain development, and to grow confidence.

A generation of musicians have eyed his lilting baton and given their best effort to answer Robert’s direction. Robert has stood on the conductor’s podium before the Bundaberg Youth Orchestra, Bundaberg Municipal Band, and dozens of school concert bands and jazz bands these past 25 years. Flawless is Robert’s approach to life. Flawless, as defined as, he embraces it all, ever in a search for harmony in the apparent mess of a novice trombone player’s bwow, or a young percussionist’s over-enthusiasm.

St Luke’s Director of Performing Arts Leanne Hutchings has been Robert’s colleague and friend since 1988 when he arrived in Bundaberg to take on the Instrumental Program position for Education Queensland. “Professionals have commented on the strengths that we see in him all the time: He’s a very humble person and wonderful to collaborate with, Ms Hutchings said. “He’s got fantastic ideas and always sees the good in people. Robert also understands family, having had four children of his own.”

A constant throughout his 25 year residency in Bundaberg, likely inspired by growing up in Coffs Harbour, has been his interest and enthusiasm for nature, the larger orchestra. “He probably kayaks the Elliot River every morning and he loves to bushwalk,” Ms Hutchings said.

In the early years of his tenure in Bundaberg, Robert was a brass teacher; however it became clear very fast that he also came with a very diverse orchestral background. Robert wasted little time establishing himself in the various musical circles in town, soon taking on the conductorship of Bundaberg Youth Orchestra (who will honor his 25 year conductorship this November with a reunion concert), and accepting an invitation to conduct the vibrant Bundaberg Municipal Band.

Robert’s passion for music, teaching and conducting has yet to wane. “Working with students, I never stop learning,” he said.

For the past 17 years Robert Rotar has worked as an instrumental teacher at St Luke’s Anglican School. There he also conducts the St Luke’s Senior and Junior Orchestra, Stage band, and Beginner Concert Band and was instrumental (pun, yeah!) in winning many of the trophies in their cabinet. “Playing an instrument in an orchestra is the ultimate team sport. You can’t hide. Instead, it reveals who you are; it brings you confidence,” he said.

“Robert has added value to this community exponentially,” said Ms Hutchings. Some students that he taught are now teachers here at St Luke’s. Others have gone on to become professional musicians in orchestras within Australia and abroad.

Not all teachers view their profession as a calling, and few conductors see music as an effective human development tool, like Robert does. There are hundreds of students who saw their passion for music seed and blossom under Robert’s careful guidance.

Most of the residents of our city would have seen Robert standing before the Youth Orchestra or Municipal band at some point. Children have likely felt the unexplainable potency (and accompanying goose bumps) transmitted when instruments are played in perfect unison. Music leaders are so invaluable to our culture; subtly they inspire us to go higher, or at least think differently. We are most fortunate that Robert Rotar has lived and taught and conducted here, inspiring us all to move closer to the magic of music.