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 – Dad & Dave

Glenroy Auditorium
31 July 2009
Conductor: Steve Miles

A near capacity crowd filled the Glenroy Auditorium at Dunedin Town Hall last Friday night for the second in the 2009 Southern Victorian Charitable Trust Concert Series presented by St Kilda Brass, Dad & Dave with the Saints.

The concert got underway with Philip Harper’s Lionheart, originally written for the Gala Concert of the European Championships held at Birmingham’s Symphony Hall in 2007, this piece was full of youthful exuberance and dynamic contrast though did not always dispaly exact rhythmic control. Next on the programme came 2 movements from Phillip Sparke’s Hymn of the Highlands; Ardross Castle and Dundonnell, this was a real highlight of the programme with the band sounding on absolute top form. Great balance was heard between the melodic and accompaniment lines, exciting dynamic effects and all topped off with some very fine Percussion work.

David Bremner has become a favourite with the Dunedin public and the Trombone superstar showed once again why he is without doubt the finest Trombone player on this side of the world. Clouds, originally written by Dunedin based composer and Otago University lecturer Anthony Ritchie for the New Zealand National Band tour of 2005, had been performed many times before but never to a New Zealand audience. This New Zealand Premiere of the highly descriptive work held together very well and the band gave a very solid framework for the soloist to work within. Some very impressive, controlled high register playing from Solo Cornet and Soprano dominated the opening statement before the technical wizardry and panache of David Bremner was displayed in all its glory. David’s evenness of tone throughout the range of the instrument was a real highlight and a shining example to the many young brass players scattered throughout the Glenroy audience that had come to hear him play. An extended ovation for soloist, band and composer was thoroughly deserved.

Some light relief was on offer next with a very comedic rendition of Mr. Sandman arranged by Leigh Baker featuring 4 of the band playing different pitched bottles and Tubular Bells. A very amusing number which even had vocals and dancing!!! More Phillip Sparke followed with Mountain Song which had some moments of unease and a number of intonation issues which did detract somewhat from the music, not the bands best offering of the evening but this was soon forgotten within the excitement of Malcolm Arnold’s Peterloo Overture which was full of atmosphere and some wonderful Timpani playing form Julia Horsnell.

The second half got underway with another Leigh Baker arrangement; this time of Lionel Ritchie’s All Night Long which featured 4 Trumpets led by Ralph Miller screaming out the lead line. A much calmer mood followed with the introduction of Cornet Soloist Trevor Bremner playing Shepherd’s Song whilst wandering through the auditorium. Trevor’s glorious tone and exceptional control was a joy to listen to and the band seemed to relish the opportunity to provide accompaniment to his playing.Danse Napolitaine showed more of Trevor’s musicality and technical competence before the band launched into a Freddie Mercury tribute with Fat Bottomed Girls and Bohemian Rhapsody. These were real audience pleasers and almost brought the house down. Once more a beautiful rendition from Trevor Bremner this time of Rusalka’s Song to the Moonfollowed before father and son joined forces for Softly As I Leave.

Valero arranged by Sandy Smith gave Daniel Dance a real chance to shine on the Drum Kit before the big finale, Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s Vitae Aeternum. The finale again showed the band on real form though there did seem to be a few very tired players onstage by the end of the piece. Nevertheless, some fine solo work from John Lewis and Marty Kibble together with great back row and Trombone lines in the climax of the central theme. The programming of this concert was a real highlight with something for everyone and once again a very slick and professional lighting design enhanced the whole performance.

I look forward to the bands next concert on the 26th September, 20th Century and Beyond which will welcome back another Dunedin favourite, Gladys Hope.

Sean McDonald