Review – Stage and Screen

Mayfair Theatre, Dunedin
29 November 2008
Conductor: Steve Miles
Guest Artists: Gladys Hope (Soprano), John Kiernan-Sear (Baritone), Gina Miles, Nicola Dyer, Melinda Joe, Jenifer Hancox (Dancers)

A capacity audience packed into Dunedin’s Mayfair Theatre on Saturday night to enjoy the last in the 2008 subscription series of concerts given by St Kilda Brass entitled ‘Stage and Screen’.

As the title suggests the evening was dedicated to the music of both Musical Theatre and Film.

Atmospheric and Brutal

Dressed smartly in dinner suits the band got the evening’s entertainment under way with a brand new arrangement of the Fanfare from Rocky before some wonderfully atmospheric and brutal playing in the Barbarian Horde from Gladiator.

A selection of music from Andrew Lloyd Weber’s masterpiece the Phantom of the Opera followed featuring the extremely versatile Gladys Hope in Think of Me, the silky smooth talents of John Kiernan Sear in the Music of the Night and the two popular Dunedin stars joining together in All I Ask of You. These numbers were accompanied with extreme sensitively and the clever use of mutes softened the brass sounds and added some very nice tone colours, allowing the singers to shine through the texture superbly.

More film music followed with Jurrasic Park showing the talents of newly appointed Solo Horn, Rowena Howard and Soul Bossa Nova featuring some nifty jazz Flugel work from Marty Kibble.

Visually Stunning

The first half finale was Ray Farr’s arrangement of Riverdance featuring a dance troupe lead and choreographed by Musical Director Steve Miles wife Gina. This was a real highlight of the concert visually stunning and plenty of points of interest including players performing solos from various positions both on and off the stage and even some vocal talent on display from within the band through the opening sections. This was particularly popular with the audience and one had to wonder how on earth the band could follow that in the second half!

Unique!

Well the second half got under way without the conductor and Principal Cornet John Lewis and Flugel Horn Marty Kibble playing the parts of Clint Eastwood and the Mexican Bandit in The Good the Bad and the Ugly. Full of good humour, choreographic precision and gunfire this certainly was a very unique number and the soloists should be congratulated on their first foray into acting!

From one Ennio Morricone number to another Gabriel’s Oboe followed before the vocal soloists entered for some more music from the shows. Gladys Hope took the lead in I Don’t Know How to Love Him from Jesus Christ Superstar and I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables whilst John Kiernan-Sear featured with Anthem from Chess and Stars from Les Miserables. Once again the accompaniments were fully aware of the soloists which allowed good balance to be maintained throughout.

Uncomfortable

Much of the music on this concert was arranged especially by the Musical Director however some arrangements obviously were not and this version of I Dreamed a Dream never seemed comfortable to me, being pitched much lower than the original and clearly too low for a female voice. However, Gladys Hope showed why she is regarded as the consummate performer that she is by cleverly adding some harmonies and octave leaps.

New arrangements of music from Lord of the Dance followed with Jennifer Hancox showing off her dancing talents through Gypsy before some beautifully shaped Euphonium Duo playing from Ian O’Malley and Errol Moore in Lament. The finale to the concert was a new arrangement of Victory from Lord of the Dance which again was a visual spectacle featuring the four dancers. The energy and excitement of this number was exceptional and the thoroughly deserved ovation from the audience signalled an encore of the number through which the steps and choreography remained immaculate.

With audience members whistling, cheering and screaming for more Gladys Hope and John Kiernan-Sear took to the stage for one more encore in Howard Snell’s beautiful treatment of You’ll Never Walk Alone. The pitch centre of this number was not always correct from soloists however this came right and the sheer power from the evenings guests made one wonder why they had ever been amplified electronically at all!

Series Finale gets the thumbs up

This was a great concert; full of visual and audio spectacles, new arrangements and superb lighting which enhanced the whole show. What a wonderful way to end the series; one can only wonder what will be in store for the Dunedin public in the next series.

Sean McDonald
Dunedin

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