31 May 2018

Just the thing

Many thing were working in favour of the Yale Concert Band visit to Canberra. They are on tour, to celebrate their 100th anniversary; this is their 6th continent (since the '50s - not this tour; presumably the penguins await their turn); the support was the RMC Band who are in their 50th year; the gig was free with donations to Legacy which is celebrating its 90th year. And Llewellyn was full, with the upstairs open. Conductor Thomas Duffy said this is the best attended concert of the tour so far. Great! And what a sound. Firstly the military professionals performed, led by visiting conductors from the their Music School. Then the Yale band made up of students in various subjects at Yale. We were told that Yale teaches composition and some other music matters but not performance: YCB comprises students of STEM, humanities, arts, whatever. And such different looks: RMC members in service dress military brown; YCB in tux and black dresses. Then all in for a few final numbers in force. I loved the sweet and pure sound of the wind and especially brass. YCB were all wind other then percussion, piano and harp. RMC had double bass, drums and electric guitar. All was instrumental except for one RMC piece where Toni Maxwell, a local Canberra reservist sang As if we never said goodbye, from the musical Sunset Boulevard. That's also the first time I'd heard the new PA, at least for music. I wasn't at an ideal location, but it seemed quite transparent and hugely willing and the sounds spread nicely to the front rows where I was sitting. Thy each played some originals as well as folk tunes. One member of the YCB came forward to conduct his own composition, a fanfare themed on Google's original motto, Don't be evil, and the anniversary of Kubrick's film, 2001:A space odyssey with references to Daisy. There were pieces by Bernstein, Grainger, Vaughan Williams and Eric Whittaker as well as lesser known names that I didn't catch. Director Thomas Duffy conducted one of his tunes, Century shout : urban march that recounts the history of a city with its bricks and industry and waves of immigrants. And finally, my pleasure in hearing Llewellyn so full of sound. Concerts bands fit that space: they are big and loud and satisfying where even a symphony orchestra can get somewhat lost. So I enjoyed this gig. Varied and interesting and aurally satisfying.

Yale Concert Band performed under Thomas Duffy (conductor) with Band of the Royal Military College, Duntroon at Llewellyn Hall.

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