Blenheim National Contest – a recap

After a 4 year absence the SAINTS made a return to the national contesting stage to compete against eight other NZ bands and Darrebin from the West Island. Some members chose to fly, but most undertook the long (11 hour) journey by car or van on the Wednesday. Settling in, the Middle Park Motel was comfortable; challenging acoustics in our rehearsal venue were solved by the generosity of EBOP Brass in allowing us to share their church across the road.

Thursday: Sarah, Kerry, Jack, Logan and Keenan with Lee accompanying took part in the solo competitions. No-one (except Lee) was required to participate in Champion of Champions, but sterling performances all round.

Friday dawned fine and clear. The band marched 5 x 5 to a creditable 7th place behind Drum Major Matthew Dick. Light meals and resting saw a relaxed band reassemble for Draw 6 the Hymn (Reflections in Nature – Robert Redhead) and Test (39th Parallel – Peter Graham).

Saturday, Draw 7 the band played Philip Wilby’s Red Priest for the Own Choice Selection. Consistent judging over both sessions by Chief Adjudicator Russell Gray saw the band with a 7th overall placing. This was a good result, recognition of a worthy effort from such an inexperienced band.

Thanks are due to our out-of-towners – both professional and registered: Jamie Lawson (Footscray); the Invercargill contingent – Steve & Nina Gooding, Aaron Herman, Jack McKenzie and Matthew Dick; from the Wellington region – Erin Lee and Keenan Buchanan; from Christchurch – Dave Froom and  last but definitely not least ☺ Kerry Wood and Lee Martelli-Wood from Orcland.

Thanks also to van drivers Ian McCabe and Tony van Alphen, and Trish Gooding for assistance with victualling.
Special mention of course to the two Peters: the logistics whizz Pete McHenry without whom none of this would have been possible, and our conductor Peter Adams for his great personal and musical skills. PA is now taking a break from band to allow him to make best use of his University sabbatical. All the best Peter!

Review – Brass shines and voices sparkle in firmament

Knox Church
21 August 2016

St Kilda Brass Band under the direction of Peter Adams, performed an exciting array of brass arrangements and contemporary compositions before a medium capacity audience in Knox Church yesterday afternoon.

The band shared the stage with St Hilda’s Madrigal Choir and soprano Sophie Morris. Knox’s acoustics seem to mellow the sound of all performers except when Morris brought out the microphone.

In a programme titled “Among the Stars”, all groups are celebrated for the stars among them and best wishes for the competitions ahead. In an afternoon replete with highlights, sadly only the super novas get a mention here.

Arrangements of orchestral works for brass can present many extreme technical challenges.

But St Kilda Brass is admirably up to the challenge, if not equal to it.

The blurred moments in Roberts’ fiendishly difficult arrangements of Holst’s Mars and Jupiter are almost forgiven.

The band and its soloists fully redeemed themselves, however, with enchanting performances of Peter Graham’s swirling and sparkling Shine as the Light, and Cooper-Lovatt’s lilting Enter the Galaxies.

The items chosen by St Hilda’s Madrigal Choir, under the direction of Michael Grant, highlighted their soulful well-modulated sound for Anthony Ritchie’s He Moemoea, Britten’s Balulalow and Jenkins’ Adiemus.

They showed rhythmic energy in Banja’s Traditional Serbian Folk Song, though it could be improved with more slide than that encompassed by a Church of England sound.

Sophie Morris’ performances just keep on getting better.

She now has an impressive voice range and stylistic range, going effortlessly from the belle canto required in Dvorak’s Rusalka’s Song to the Moon and Puccini’s O mio babbino caro to Bernstein’s soaring Somewhere, Webber’s guttural Memory and Kander and Ebb’s raunchy All That Jazz.

Morris is definitely the ascendant star.

Final accolades go to the band’s performance of Barry Gott’s lightly exuberant and sweetly fluffy Lightwalk.

Marian Poole
Review taken from the Otago Daily Times (August 22, 2016)

Caversham Community Action – ODT

Courtesy of ODT – 8 November, 2015

At the site of the former Carisbrook stadium, Dunedin artist Aroha Novak had created temporary art installation The Brook Project, which will be on display for eight days.

The installation included more than 100 embroideries relating to the economic, social and political history of the Carisbrook site. They were attached to the wire fence that surrounds the site.

About 60 people turned out for an event that featured everyone from Tahu and the Takahes to the St Kilda Brass Bandits, who used items including road cones to make their music.

Ms Novak said she was pleased “all these people have come together to help produce this vision that I’ve had”.

Review – Virtuoso in the school hall absolute treat

Kavanagh Auditorium
23 May 2015

There was prolonged applause and a standing ovation from the capacity audience in Kavanagh College Auditorium at Saturday evening’s concert by St Kilda Brass (conductor Peter Adams) and its magnificent guest, internation tenor Simon O’Neill.

Now considered by many to be the best Heldenenor of our time, O’Neill began studying voice at the University of Otago in 1990, when he also played in St Kilda Brass, so this was an occasion to return for a concert night out with his old band.

The band opened strongly with La Forza del Destino Overture, then O’Neill gave a taste of what was to come with Pucini’s aria Che Gelida Manina.

Informal chat and introductions to items endeared him to his audience, and no doubt also helped relax John McAdam (baritone horn), who stepped out front to provide solo companion passages for another popular Italian aria, Una Furtiva Lagrima.

Four great Wagner arias followed. Winterstrume, from Die Walkure, and Brunhilde! Helige Braut! were accompanied with brass band arrangements by Adams, generally matching the intensely powerful drama of the texts.

Big brass fanfares and speeding scalic cornets launched the second half of the concert in a thrilling arrangement of Festive Overture, by Shostakovich.

The remainder of the programme featured O’Neill with popular songs such as Panis Angelicus, Maria from West Side Story, and Danny Boy.

O’Neill in his original red jacket and cap, delighted with a solo baritone horn spot as the band rocked out I Got Rhythm. But the surpreme highlight came with Puccini’s Nessum dorma – not once, but twice for the enthralled audience.

What an unbelievable and absolute treat to hear O’Neill singing in a local school auditorium with the same drama and passion he would accord performances in the world’s greatest opera venues.

Elizabeth Bouman
Review taken from the Otago Daily Times (May 25, 2015)

Review – New Zealand International Early Music Festival

Knox Church
27 February 2015

St Kilda Brass and Da Capo Vocal Consort collaboration set the tone for the second New Zealand International Early Music Festival.

The concert, performed to an audience of modest size, opened with David Burchell’s crisp and articulate rendering of Gabrieli’s Intonazione on the church organ. Thereafter, Cantate Domino for voices and brass conveyed the jubilant Psalm 96 with control and poise. The accompanying brass quartet backed the singers sensitively.

Gabrieli’s two ensuing canzoni for brass showed keen understanding of the Venetian style, punctuated by moments of insecurity peppering the otherwise crisp texture.

Morenzio’s Caro dolce showed fine expertise from the voices; Chiaro segno amor displayed the skilled singers growing in conviction, delivering a thoroughly captivating “morte” cadence towards the close of this poignant madrigal. Susato’s three ensuing Renaissance Dances for brass were preceded by splendid, jocular anecdotes regarding the Renaissance delivered by conductor Errol Moore.

Gesualdo’s exquisitely preformed madrigal Baci soave e cari displayed the hallmarks characterising the anguished harmonies of Gesualdo’s vocal writing, conveying the sadness which surrounded his curious personal life.

The subsequent brass works by Gabrieli and Palestrina displayed real grandeur; through their seamless composure, they became quite transporting, achieving halcyon visions of distant Venice. The introduction of the organ, in combination with the brass, made for a refreshing blend of timbres. Moving to Monteverdi, Da Capo’s singing of Anima mia was spendid, its composition startling with its tonal shift; the performance was delivered with sublime proficiency.

The concert concluded in a similar vein to its opening, with great embellishment on the organ. Thereafter, Gabrieli’s Hodie complete sunt, in celebration of Pentecost, experimented admirably with antiphonal placement of musicians and concluded a largely captivating performance

George Chittenden
Review taken from the Otago Daily Times (March 2, 2015)

Review – Concert testament to band’s success

Mayfair Theatre
23 August 2014
Conductor: Steve Miles
Guests: Kelly Hocking (vocalist) and Barry Kloogh

St Kilda Brass was in good form on Saturday evening, under guidance from conductor Steve Miles, who is about to tour overseas in the New Zealand Brass Band. There are some very talented musicians in St Kilda Brass, as their recent success as Band of the Year at the national brass band champs confirms.

A rousing Summon the Heroes, written for the Atlanta Olympics and Glinka’s overture to Ruslan and Ludmilla opened, setting the standard in a venue with great line of vision for the audience. It was fascinating to follow sectional passages, as instrumental textures were layered and melded to produce varieties in timbre. Particularly busy were the four ladies of the percussion section, where even a couple of “ting-tings” proved vital punctuation.

Alloway Tales, a varied arrangement (Graham) of three of Robbie Burns’ songs, was accompanied by a strong, sometimes rap-like Scottish narrative from Barry Kloogh and fine pastoral soundscape for Flow Gently Sweet Afton was particularly effective.

The programme’s theme of “Myths, Legends and Fairy Tales” gave the opportunity to present popular music from theatre and movie soundtracks, such as Hedwig’s Theme and a fun medley with at least 10 Disney tunes. Singer Kelly Hocking (with well-balanced amplification) was a perfect vocal addition to numbers such as In My Own Little CornerLet it Go from Frozen and, after an exhilarating instrumental arrangement of Lord of the Rings themes, her passionate delivery of Into the West.

Prayerful dedication with specific remembrance to past bandsmen came with emotional mellow-toned Deep Harmony, then three breath-taking solos in Cossack Fire Dance, before the programme ended with a powerful rendition of Mussorgsky’s Great Gate of Kiev.

Overall, an excellent concert, not too loud in the venue, and which deserved far greater public support.

Elizabeth Bouman
Review taken from the Otago Daily Times (August 25, 2014)

‘Youthful vitality’ earns top position – ODT

Courtesy of ODT – 15 July, 2014.

Contagious virtuosity helped Dunedin musicians win the band of the year award at the 2014 New Zealand Brass Band Championships in Invercargill.

Musical director Peter Adams said the virtuosity of St Kilda Brass Band leader Steve Miles was ”contagious” and instilled the confidence in the band to win the top prize at the national championships on Friday.

Mr Miles won soloist of the year award playing a euphonium. “A trumpet on steroids,” said Kimberley Johnston, who won the Brass Bands Association of New Zealand administrator of the year award.

Mr Adams said the band’s contemporary programme – including Enter the Galaxies, Valero, Carnival Cocktail, Misty and The Dreaded Groove and Hook – “reflected the youthful vitality and energy” of the band’s University of Otago student base.

Band chairman Errol Moore said the open ensemble was won by himself, Mr Miles, Harry Smith, and John McAdam. Jess Schweizer won the junior flugel championship.
Shawn McAvinue – ODT