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

Review – Band restores faith after shaky start

King’s and Queen’s Performing Arts Centre
11 May 2014
Conductor: Errol Moore
Guests: Steve Miles (Euphonium), Georgia Gray and Matthew Wilson

SUMMON the Dragon and Land of the Mountain and the Flood opened this first concert in a comparatively unpolished manner after seven months of silence from St Kilda Brass under the leadership of Errol Moore.

However, having got the technical difficulties posed by these first two items out of the way, the band returned to the strengths for which is is known and revered.

Believe Me if all those Endearing Young Charms, Skye Boat Song and David of the White Rock did retore faith in the band’s technical accomplishment and its charms. Guest performers also lifted the event. Accomplished euphonium soloist and former leader for the band, Steve Miles, explored his instrument’s wide range of high and low notes, its sonorous excellence and an exhilarating array of fast trills and runs.

Brillante: Fantasy on Rule Britannia is a particularly good vehicle for a performer of Miles’ truly virtuosic ability.

Guest singers Georgia Gray and Matthew Wilson both have excellent voices and strong control throughout their ranges. Their choices of costumes were nicely in keeping with the wartime era.

However, Gray did not need to use a microphone and her otherwise finely managed performance suffered as a result of being painfully loud.

Band soloists Jessica Schweizer on flugel and Rowena Howard on cornet are to be commended. Special note goes to Ella Cox, whose stories of wartime events were tellingly simple.

The second half of the programme commemorated World War 1 with well-known tunes Colonel Bogey March, Nightfall in Camp and Medley: Oh What a Lovely War, Daddy, Soldier Daddy and Pack up Your Troubles. The band chose the brilliant red and gold braided military uniform of the time.

An encore item of the sweetly romantic Myfanwy rewarded the grateful audience.

Marian Poole
Review taken from the Otago Daily Times (May 12, 2014)