Review – Simply the Best

Kings and Queens Performing Arts Centre
12 May 2012
Conductor: Howard Taylor
Guests: John Lewis (cornet) and Riki McDonnell (euphonium)

A disappointingly small, but very appreciative, audience enjoyed some top brass on Saturday evening in the Kings and Queens Performing Arts Centre.

Brisbane-based conductor Howard Taylor conducted an excellent programme by St Kilda Brass and compered the evening like a seasoned TV show host (I won’t mention the corny jokes).

The programme was titled “Simply the Best” and Taylor was quick to point out that the two guest soloists were indeed simply the best

And John Lewis (on cornet) and Riki McDonnell (on euphonium) certainly were, both performing solo work in the style that has won them a great many international titles and championships.

The band was in top form too, opening with a rousing Fanfare and Flourishes and working through 20 numbers of classical, rock, jazz and traditional to end with an absolutely sublime rendition of Pokarekare.

There were many highlights. The passionate tight blend and balance of The Irish Blessing, the speed and clarity of Lewis’ Napoli variations, the incredible virtuosity of McDonnell’s Carnival Cocktail (Sykes) and the beautiful duo arrangement of Hallelujah (Cohen) played by Lewis with Nathan Tane on electric guitar held the audience spellbound. Big numbers such as Swing When You’re Winning, Disney Fantasy, Georgia on My Mind and Innuendo were full of energy and character, and Bach’s Toccata in D Minor featuring Robert Craigie on xylophone, brought this well-known work out of the Baroque age.

A programme such as this makes one realise just how far brass bands, with their sophisticated repertoire, have evolved from the limitations of common-time street-march repertoire.

Elizabeth Bouman

Review taken from the Otago Daily Times (May 14, 2012)

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