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When Irish Eyes Are Watching...

October 22, 2011

It was surely no accident that several bands included Irish items in their programs for the 43rd Festival Of Brass in the knowledge that esteemed educator Edward Kennedy was to be the man behind the desk. Not the man in the box anymore as given the precedent set by Greg Aitken last year, the adjudication was open and an excellent move too as this good-natured concert contest is based on entertainment value rather than the intense demands of a test based competition.


Such an early start may have meant a fairly empty room for Brisbane Brass Juniors but it was not to be with a decent audience settling in for the day along with the various parents and other family members. It was also encouraging to have a number of people from the B Grade band in to see Sascha Kelly conducting this terrific troupe to out point a D Grade band without the benefit of handicap points.


Brisbane Brass 3 have responded well to Tim Opstelten’s direction since taking over from Bill Barker in June with good rehearsal attendance and most importantly attention and quiet.

Tim’s musicality, clear conducting and calm demeanor look like becoming a perfect fit for this all ages band and a second placing with handicap points in the C & D Grade contest shows that something is working.


Something must be working in the water supply too if the hilarious impromptu choreography routine from Darren Bell and John Boyle at the climax of their duet, The Two Imps is any indication of how some minds work in the world of BB3. Great stuff, keep it up boys !


Josh McKechie brought the full Brisbane Brass 2 tool kit to this contest and the result was an exceptionally musical performance and a great deal of smiling, Irish or otherwise with a win on handicap points in the A & B Grade afternoon section.


From the bold commemorative march Viva Birkinshaw through the evocative hymn The Irish Blessing led by the quartet of Teegan, Jess, Rex and Sarah, Mitch’s blistering Harry James’ Trumpet Concerto, the sentimental favourite Harry Potter theme, some more Ireland with Jess’s sensitive Donegal Bay to the majestic Elsa’s Procession, this band held the audience’s rapt attention.


The connection between stage and seating was underpinned by Josh’s witty and informative commentary of the set and made a bit more personal by his eschewing a microphone and speaking directly to the room.


There are some who long for the old days at Nambour with the heat and flies and many certainly miss the solo competition especially with regard to junior players but it must be agreed that since moving to the new venue and format, this contest gets better each year.


Thank you again Sunshine Brass for all your work in 2011 and of course thanks to your sponsors for their support.

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