1 September 2015

Arrayed forces

This Brindabella Orchestra concert was something like that: arrayed forces. Because it was big. Brindabella played with Weston Winds and some guests, so the stage was packed with players and the roof lifted when the brass let loose. And the theme was WW1, the Great War, with tunes from the era, so often touching, occasionally bombastic and nationalistic. Yes, and because we played God save the King (for king he was as that time) and our own little number, Advance Australia Fair. It all worked a treat, better than I'd hoped (especially after a few weeks away with no practising) and was a blast when the whole outfit started up. Not that I liked the overt nationalism that is people standing for the anthem. We are more nationalistic and overtly proud these days (Anzac Day in the '60s was nothing like it is now, but then we had many returned soldiers who knew the hell it really was. There are fewer surviving returnees these days (mostly some Vietnam vets, Middle East, perhaps Korea and WW2) and we mostly just have pollies using and abusing and playing at militarism, viz, Operation Fortitude as the latest dangerous blunder). So, I felt uncomfortable when the audience stood but I have a very nice male voice on the recording, singing along, so not all bad. The program was made up of a few pieces for Weston Winds, a few for the Orchestra, a few combined and one song with piano. I liked our Tunes from the tranches medley, not least the appearance of Land of hope and glory (I am not immune from these emotional stirrings), and Banks of green willows (George Butterworth) and Elegy for strings (FS Kelly) were touching and all colours and spaces, as are poems and pieces from those who experienced the war. The Winds played Holst First suite in Eb 1st mvt and I was taken by a spot that was all the world like a jazz solo played by saxes with band accompaniment, and otherwise some nice melody passed through the band. Lachlan McIntyre, currently studying at ANU School of Music, sang By a bierside by Ivor Gurney, which BBC Four describes thus: "Surrounded by the chaos of the trenches, serving soldier Ivor Gurney composed a number of haunting songs, including 'By A Bierside'." (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01w9ry3). Orchestra and Winds played well and the program was nicely constructed, so, a very successful and nicely themed concert.
Brindabella Orchestra and Weston Winds were conducted by Peter Shaw in "From Gallipoli to the Somme and beyond : music from the WW1 era". Lachlan McIntyre (vocals) featured. Too many perfomers to list.

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