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The story of Flute Tree & The Woodwind Group is the story of people passionate about music; making music and making musical instruments.
The first flute specialist company in Australia was started in the late 1970s by John Lehner. Seeing a need for high quality support for Australia's flute players, John established the company in his name to repair and retail quality instruments at every level of flute. Following an overseas research sabbatical, Mr Lehner returned to Sydney and established "Flute Makers of Australia" to hand craft flutes and flute head joints.
In 1986 Albert Cooper, a highly revered flute maker and designer, was invited to attend an Australian Flute convention. Quizzed by Mr Lehner as to how to recruit world class flute makers and develop Australian flute making, Mr Cooper suggested approaching Mark O'Connor, a young English flute maker living and making in Boston USA.
In 1987 Mark O'Connor arrived at John Lehner flutes and quickly made a mark, taking over management of the company in 1990.
In 1995 Mark bought the company and establish Worldwind Musical instruments Pty. Ltd to manage the import of quality flutes and woodwind, and The Woodwind Group Pty. Ltd. Incorporating Flute Tree and Saxem Accessories.
Built around uncompromising attention to detail in the repair and maintenance of woodwind instruments, the business grew and became a model many have tried to emulate.
Selling was never a priority for Mark but it was inevitable that as the world's leading makers looked for reliable world class support for their instruments and clients, so he was asked to represent those companies in Australia.
The Woodwind Group and its predecessor John Lehner Flutes Australia, is responsible for the introduction of practically all quality brands currently available in Australia, but the Woodwind Group never stands still, and constantly strives for perfection. Research, technical assessment and or course playing, inform our company as we continue to lead the way in introducing the finest of instruments and repair techniques, available at any point in time.
Karen Greenfield - Office Administration
While she has never been tempted away from piano and violin, to try her hand at woodwind, over 25 years in the industry ensures Karen is well positioned to help with your enquiry
Karen is dedicated to keeping the office running smoothly and can answer any of your admin enquiries.
Ian Johnston - Sales Manager
Ian is the new boy on the block, but with the average tenure of Woodwind Group staff being over 20 years, it is difficult to catch up !
Hailing from the misty moors of Scotland, Ian has plied his trade from hither to thither. China, Singapore, New Zealand even Melbourne, all have been places Ian has called home.
Guaranteed to make your time with us a pleasure, Ian probably enjoys the process of clients playing and testing flutes, even more than they do... just don't mention the bagpipes!
Martin Kelleher - Instrument maker / Repairer
Gary is a living legend. The last in line of an instrument repair dynasty, Gary has done seen heard, and repaired it all.
Responsible for much of the crafting of popular Lehner flutes in the '80s,and a range of his own flute head joints, there is nothing that Gary can't make with a lathe, some material and his fair hands.
Otherwise complex problems are diagnosed and remedied faster than anyone in the business. The difficult made to look easy and the impossible.. just a little more demanding
Mark O'Connor - Managing director / Instrument maker / Repairer
There is only one thing Mark ever really wanted to do as a career, and he is doing it.
For some 17 years our premises were one of the best kept secrets in Australia.
International visiting soloists and professional musicians from all over Australia would make their way to a small undistinguished terrace house in Leichhardt.
With a machine shop out the back, clean workshops upstairs and a small office and showroom down stairs. this unassuming premises become a Mecca for woodwind players and a popular corner for locals to stand in the street to listen to the fine sounds emanating from within.
We had a dream,
and it came true.
The stereo in the workshop and the visiting artist collecting their new or repaired instruments, was never quite enough. We got into this business because of music, and we wanted more of it!
We always dreamt of a small performance space annexed to our business, where clients could try their instruments in a realistic acoustic, and where we could arrange recitals, concerts and ensemble playing.
In 2005 our dream came true, and it was better than we could have even imagined.
There is no question that the 19th Century Hat factory was right for us.
With an appreciation for fine crafting, reliable construction and no small respect for tradition, we are right at home
We have "fixed up the place a little" since these photographs of our place were taken , but have not lost any of the historic charm