Review – By Popular Demand

Saturday 15 March, 2008
Kings Performing Arts Centre, Dunedin
Conductor Steve Miles
Soloist David Bremner

A near capacity audience poured into the Kings Performing Arts Centre on Saturday night to hear the first in the Southern Victorian Charitable Trusts 2008 concert series performed by St Kilda Brass.

The evening opened with a rousing arrangement of John Williams Olympic Spirit played with Cornets and Trombones stood around the band. Following a quick reshuffle onstage the concert continued with Verdi’s Force of Destiny Overture which was full of excitement and tight ensemble playing. The bands soloists shone throughout this number, in particular John Lewis (Cornet), Marty Kibble (Flugel) and Ian O’Malley (Euphonium). The impact of these first couple of numbers was enhanced significantly by the superb use of stage lighting. This I believe is the first time the band has added a professional lighting show to one of its concerts and it certainly added to the whole atmosphere of the concert.

Principal Trombonist of the New Zealand Symphony orchestra and one of the Southern Hemisphere’s premiere Brass talents, David Bremner took to the stage to perform Guillmant’s Morceu Symphonique which was delivered with precision and panache. David’s excellent tone quality throughout the entire range of the instrument was a feature throughout together with impressive lyrical phrasing. David followed with a real ‘golden oldie’ The Acrobat. Despite the very light and humorous nature of this piece, David’s Trombone playing class was ever present. To encore David’s first solo set he was joined by the bands Trombone section and Flugel to perform Goff Richards arrangement of I Will Follow Him. A lively number that was great fun to hear, though I’m not convinced about the band’s swaying!

Through Bolts & Bars got the audience’s feet tapping again before Beethoven’s 2nd movement of the Moonlight Sonata. Unusual to hear a band perform this piece however it was delivered with real sensitivity and poise. A concert of requests would not be complete without some music from the film Brassed Off and next on the programme was Rodrigo’s Concerto d’aranjeuz performed by Marty Kibble. Marty thrilled the audience with some beautiful Flugel sounds and lovely delicate phrasing – a real highlight of the evening before the big bombastic blasts of Tchaikowsky’s 1812 Overture.

The second half got under way with the Introduction to Act III of Wagner’s Opera Lohengrin which featured the broad and powerful sounds of the bands bottom end. Next came the only slight disappointment of the evening in Debussy’s Claire de Lune. This is a very lovely piece of music that requires so much delicacy and sensitivity and that was not always present. However, In the Hall of the Mountain King certainly took the band back into their comfort zone.

David Bremner was then introduced back to the stage to perform Stephen Foster’s Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair before an absolutely dazzling display of the Bluebells of Scotland which brought the house down. Breakneck speeds and phenomenal technique on display from the soloist throughout. Steve Miles then downed his Baton for a Euphonium and joined David in the popular favourite Softly As I Leave You – another highlight of the evening and clearly an enjoyable experience for both soloists.

The music of James Bond was next on the programme with soloists Ted Pheloung (Trombone) and Ralph Miller (Soprano) in sensational form before the mood was changed dramatically with Pope’s Nightfall in Camp featuring John Lewis. This piece was dedicated to the memory of Alan Knight the bands late Secretary. What better way to finish off a concert than with the Finale to Rossini’s William Tell Overture, full of dynamic contrast, fine technique and wonderful solo playing from John Lewis. Of course the band’s signature tune (When the Saints) followed to satisfy the cheers and whistles of a very excited audience. A great start to the concert season and so pleasing to see new faces in the band and many new faces in the audience.

Sean McDonald

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