Once foes of the Victorian and National banding scene, Hawthorn and Kew Brass Bands have joined together as a new band in Eastern Melbourne! In preparation for the Bendigo Eisteddfod, the merged band (which is yet to be named, but I am a fan of Kewthorn...) put on a concert on 13th May, and boy, was it a show!
The repertoire was definitely full of classics, with no compositions from the 21st century. As conductor Darren Cole did say, this concert was celebrating works that are timeless, with gorgeous harmonic writing and tender melodies. Even the works that strayed from the traditional Salvation Army style, like Goff Richard's arrangement "A Disney Fantasy" and an arrangement of Dave Brubeck's "Blue Rondo A La Turk", featured fantastic traditional band writing. This was a concert of old school brass band music, and was surprisingly refreshing compared to the demanding nature of modern brass band compositions that populate contests.
With questions as to whether the band was ready to leap straight to A Grade, the band showed their worth with fantastic performances of Peter Graham's "Essence of Time" and George Allan's "Knight Templar". The band even selected Eric Ball's 1950 "Resurgam", an elegant brass band standard. The band's soloists were certainly spectacular, from principal and soprano cornet right around to principal trombone.
However, the highlights of the night were the rich harmonic hymn-style sections throughout the repertoire. Joseph Turrin's "Hymn for Diana" was particularly gorgeous, as a dedication to Princess Diana. The St Columb's Church was a fantastic acoustic for this music, with the rich warm sound of five tubas and a confident mid-band reverberating around the space. The natural reverb of churches just makes beautiful harmonic writing sound so fantastic, and this was enhanced by Kew and Hawthorn's fantastic performance.
The band had some questionable moments of tuning and imprecise rhythmic placements, but as a whole, the concert was a fantastic introduction of Kew and Hawthorn as a fused competing band. Kewthorn is entering into an extremely competitive A grade, even at state level, but I believe this is an A grade ensemble that has fantastic potential. Give this band six to twelve months to accustom itself to its developing sound, then I think this will be a force from the East to be reckoned with.
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Jared loves to share his passion for music and artists through music reviews and commentaries. These include a selection of reviews written for community radio stations 3MBS and Radio Monash.