Brighton Melbourne Australia 2005

Conductors: Mark Ford and Phillipa Edwards
Guest Artist: Brett Baker
Firbank Girls’ Grammar
Friday 22 July 2005
Brighton, Melbourne

This is the third occasion which Brett Baker has entertained Melbourne audiences with his trombone mastery. Brett's tour began when he arrived in Melbourne on Thursday 21st July at 5.30am, a day later than he informed Kew Band's musical director Mark Ford. Mark arrived at Tullamarine airport at 5.30am on Wednesday 20 July 05 only to find that Brett was not on the designated flight from Dubai. Mark revisited the airport the following day to find an unsuspecting Brett being informed that he had arrived a day late! All is well that ends well!

On the Thursday evening Kew Band played host to Brett Baker and the Footscray Yarraville City Band to rehearse for the concert to be held on the following night. Brett rehearsed with Footscray for the first half of the rehearsal then with Kew for the second half.

This concert was to be a prelude concert for the Melbourne International Festival of Brass, however the dates failed to coincide, thus the Kew & Footscray bands took on the role to promote and facilitate this concert. The concert was held at Firbank Girls' Grammar and this venue proved to be ideal for this event. Thanks to Footscray MD Phillipa Edwards for organising this venue.

The concert commenced with Footscray Yarraville taking the stage playing 'Knight Templar' by Geo Allan. The band produced some great ensemble work with Matthew Ayres filling in on principal cornet whilst regular principal, Jamie Lawson, was on Navy Band duty in the Solomon Islands. Following the opening march, the band then played the wonderful hymn 'The Old Rugged Cross' with solo horn player, Nicole Tweddle, in fine form.

Brett Baker took to the stage for the first time in the concert playing 'The Spitfire', a direct descendant of 'The Acrobat'. This was played with impeccable technique and real flair.Then he presented a touching rendition of Bill Geldard's arrangement of 'Autumn Leaves'.  This was also played with great sensitivity by the Footscray band. By this stage the audience knew they were in for a real treat as the concert unfolded.

Footscray Yarraville went on to feature one of their percussionists on bass guitar, with visiting New-South-Welshman, Marcus Salone, on trumpet in an arrangement of Victor Lopez's 'Hola Senor Lola'.

Brett returned for what was to prove to be his most significant work of the evening. Gordon Langford's 1979 National Championship commission for Don Lusher 'Rhapsody for Trombone'. The Footscray Yarraville band requested to accompany Brett on this work after they had recently performed the work with a prominent Melbourne trombonist. The playing was simply brilliant and was packed full of variety and musical shape.

Footscray Yarraville concluded the first half of the concert with Gareth Wood's composition based on a Welsh melody titled 'Sosban Fach'.

Kew Band opened the second half with the march ‘The Waltonian' by JJ Richards. This demonstrated the band was in great form. The piece was packed full of vitality and rhythmic precision and the dynamic control in the 'pp' section was so well executed. The band then performed the finale of Philip Sparke's work 'Hymn of the Highlands'. 'Dundonnell' was played with absolute conviction and demonstrated the great consistency across all sections in the band that has become the hallmark of this fine band.

Brett was welcomed back by the audience with great enthusiasm as he performed Harold Moss' 'The Nightingale'. Brett commenced the work in real ‘cornet' fashion playing the opening cadenza's in the upper register which was impressive. The technical work demonstrated was indeed a pleasure to listen to. Kew Band provided an accurate and detailed account of the accompaniment throughout.  

The next piece to be performed was Robin Dewhurst's new arrangement of 'Polka Dots & Moonbeams'. This demonstrated Brett's virtuosity to the max as he negotiated the style with absolute ease. Kew Band handled the difficult accompaniment well but did find the demands of this genre quite awkward.

Kew continued the concert with James Horner's beautiful melody from 'Braveheart' – 'For the Love of a Princess'. This demonstrated the lovely cornet sound of Karen Davey and flugel horn solist Jillian Bovaird. The next item was to be a surprise as Kew unearthed a very talented composer in their ranks; Mike Fitzpatrick (2nd trombone) composed 'Psalm 98' and conducted the band through his impressive score in this ‘World Premeire' performance.

Brett Baker returned to the stage playing Eric Larsson's 'Concertino for Trombone'. This was played with great care and precision. The second movement proved to be a real delight as cornet player Richard Linton provided a sensitive reading to compliment the soloist.

As the concert steadily wound to its conclusion, some great music was heard as Kew Band completed its second half of the program with Kenneth Downie's hymn 'Grant Us Thy Peace'. This was portrayed with great control and sensitivity and a highlight was the exquisite tonal quality of Steven Ford on EEb Bass. 

Then the big moment for Kew! The band concluded its contribution to the evening's concert with Phillip Wilby's 'Paganini Variations'. This demonstrated that the band was in splendid form with strong performances from all sections of the band with special mention to star euphonium player, Patrick Mudge, who performed his solo work with tenderness and style. The band will be playing this again on August 6th at the Melbourne International Festival of Brass when the band accompanies Oistein Baadsvik and Geoff Payne in the Festival's Gala Concert at the Melbourne Town Hall.

Finally, Brett Baker joined forces with Kew for the encore presentation: Goff Richard's stunning arrangement of the Moiri love song 'Pokarekare Ana'. The playing in this was so warm and inviting that the audience was in awe of this magnificent performer.

It was great to see Brett Baker in Melbourne again as he won over many brass band enthusiasts with his wonderful playing skills and his kind friendly nature.

Special thanks to Footscray Yarraville City Band (MD Phillipa Edwards), Kew Band (MD Mark Ford), Principal & Staff of Firbank Girls' Grammar for the use of the venue, and the compere for the evening, Mr. Barrie Bardsley, who performed admirably throughout the evening with his relaxed approach and informative notes.

We look forward to seeing Brett Baker again soon.  Bon Voyage!

Mark Ford

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