23 October 2015

The modern Army

How unexpected was this and what a great pleasure. I've seen the Duntroon band but this was different. The other times, they were around 20 players, big band style, popular music. Always competent if an odd sight in their uniforms. But a pleasure. This, today, was the full band: symphonic in extent and in complexity and repertoire. But a wind ensemble, so no strings other than one lone double bass (Barnaby Briggs looking decidedly more military than in his other incarnations). It was obvious from the first glance at the program: Puccini, Grainer, Grieg, Bernstein, and two lesser recognised, Sheldon and Tosti. Tosti and Puccini were operatic with a soprano up front. Another proof of this outfit's flexibility. (Apparently Fiona Wilkins, soprano, had been singing rock and pop to 2am a few days before). The Sheldon was busy and rhythmic with layered melodies and changing bar lengths. The Puccini was the lovely O mio babbino caro from Gianni Schicchi. How lovely is that? The Grainger was his Colonial song. The Grieg was his piano concerto A minor, no less (just the first movement). And the peak, for me, one of my faves of the musical genre, Bernstein Symphonic dances from West Side Story. Just fabulous and exciting and tear-jerking. Three different conductors. One soprano singer. 40 other musos. Three tubas; lots of clarinets. It's fun to identify players you know from the jazz scene: Baba, Barney, Julian. Others? But how unexpected. They are playing a few gigs next week but in the more light vein. Just another take on the Army band.

The Band of the Royal Military College, Duntroon, performed at Llewellyn Hall. Conductors were Andrea McMahon, David Bird and Matthew O'Keeffe. Soloists were Fiona Wilkins (soprano voice) and Sean Henderson (piano).

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