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Jaime Rolfe – Excelsior “Ever Upward”

What an amazing year 2018 was for Brisbane Excelsior Soprano Cornet player, Jaime Rolfe.

Jaime’s year started with her winning the Soprano Cornet Solos at the Australian National Band Championships, on top of playing with Brisbane Excelsior who took out 2nd place in A Grade and were awarded the Gal John Trophy for Highest Placed Australian Band.

The New Zealand National Championships was dominated by Jaime, taking out not only the Soprano Cornet Solo, but the distinguished Champion of Champions as well! Jaime was also invited to perform in the Riki McDonnell Invitational Slow Melody competition where she took out the crown.

Jaime’s university lecturer, Mr. John Kellaway, commissioned a concerto for Jaime to perform with Brisbane Excelsior, written by the band’s composer in residence, Mr. Benjamin Tubb-Hearne. A Concerto for Soprano Cornet and Brass Band, subtitled ‘A Newcastle Novel’, Jaime writes, ‘It’s not every day that you get to perform a solo with one of the country’s most outstanding brass bands, but to do so with a piece commissioned and written for you is something few get to experience. ‘A Newcastle Novel’, explores some of the exports that made Jaime’s hometown of Newcastle the city it is today. The concerto is split into three contrasting movements, all of which focus on a different ‘export’. 

The year 2018 ended on a tremendous high for Jaime, being nominated for 4Barsrest 2018 Player of the Year. Jaime was one of ten world class players to be nominated and was the only Australian player in the mix.

Whilst she did not win the Player of the Year, she was awarded the Soprano Cornet Chair in the 4BarsRest 2018 Band of the Year. “These players were chosen as they showed the most significant impact on us with their performances, both on and off the contest stages during the past year” – 4BR.


Soprano:

Jaime Rolfe (Brisbane Excelsior)

There were a host of stunning soprano players to choose from this year — but here was a player that shone the brightest.

Her band playing was outstanding — adding a cultured topping to the boldest ensemble dynamics, but also able to mix vibrant dabs and dashes of colour and texture too. When the solo spotlight was on her she was exceptional — especially in winning the prestigious Champion of Champions title at the New Zealand National Championships.

   

Ten Years on Top – REVIEW by Dr. Bob Childs

Ten Years on Top – Brisbane Excelsior Band

The last ten years has seen unprecedented success from Howard Taylor and the Brisbane Excelsior Band. The Band is 100 years old, but the last decade has certainly been the halcyon period in their history winning eight Australian Championships and two New Zealand Championships as well as great performances in the UK. The Band is recognised as the finest Band in the Southern Hemisphere, and I would suggest, “one of the finest bands in the world.”

To mark this unrivalled period of dominance in the contest field they have released a CD recording “Ten Years on Top” and it’s a real trailblazer, featuring some historic performances from the past (From Ancient Times – Jan Van Der Roost, live from 2013 Nationals) and several looking towards the future.

Ten Years on Top begins with Stephen Roberts’ Another Opening Another Show and sets the scene for a ‘high -octane’ precise and musical performance that permeates the whole recording!

There are wonderful solo contributions from Paula Russell (Cornet) Jamie Brown (Soprano) Amanda Casagrande (Flugel Horn) Nigel John (Euphonium) and Chrislyn Hamilton (Voice) the latter proving to be a real contrast and a master stroke of programming by Howard Taylor! Special mention must be given to the Nigel John whose silk-like golden tone is only matched by his effortless technique in Phillip Sparke’s Pantomime (a piece I know quite well!).

Other works that are featured include: two marches, The Jaguar – Goff Richards and Melody Shop – KL King, both played with pizzazz and fizz. There are a handful of beautiful lyrical pieces, Candle of the Lord – Joy Webb, Abide with Me – WH Monk, and The Pilgrim’s Prayer – Eric Ball that pull on the heart strings and ably demonstrate the delicacy and finesse which Howard Taylor extrapolates from this fine musical unit. Abide with Me gave me goose-bumps all over whilst absorbing the pure tone quality and perfect balance which Karl Jenkins demands from this super arrangement. Other notable performances featured within include: Phoenix from War of the Worlds by Peter Graham, The Catskills from East Coast Pictures by Nigel Hess and the gigantic most technically demanding piece ever written for brass band, From Ancient Times by Belgian composer Jan Van Der Roost. If anyone is looking for proof that Brisbane Excelsior has out-grown the Southern Hemisphere this performance is it!! Technically perfect and musically sublime, the solo playing is outstanding and the interpretation by Howard Taylor is spot-on.

I unreservedly recommend this CD to the brass band community and ask the question why we don’t see Howard Taylor and Brisbane Excelsior Band as guests at the British Open and European Championships. Their standard of performance would enhance both events and push other ensembles to an even higher standard.

Dr Robert Childs
ARCM (hons) FLCM (dist) FRWCM M.Mus (dist) PGCE (dist) DMA

Brisbane XLCR Plays to over 2000 school children!

In an almost annual tradition, the Brisbane Excelsior Band recently performed at Runcorn State High School at the Karawatha District Music Camp. Music teacher and backrow cornet Craig Millar helped organize the event and excitedly invited the band to play a segment to inspire the students.

Deputy Conductor Jared Proellocks took the band through their paces with ‘Toccata in D Minor’, ‘Abide with Me’, ‘Bugler’s Holiday’ before joining with a student led ensemble for the finishing number of ‘This is Me’ from ‘The Greatest Showman’.

We were so thankful to be able to perform at this amazing event and hope to continue the tradition into the future.

Images courtesy of Amy Pannell

 

Brisbane XLCR become Queensland State Champions!

Brisbane Excelsior Band reinforced its domestic dominance at the recent Queensland State Band Championships sponsored by Yamaha Musical Instruments, held at the Redcliffe Cultural Centre.

Their victory in the A Grade event was described as coming from ‘a world class band’ according to adjudicator Maureen Cameron — an opinion rather reinforced by the margin of victory — a whopping 17 points over rivals South Brisbane Federal, with Brisbane Brass a further three points behind in third.

Brisbane combined a quartet of superbly crafted performances under MD Howard Taylor of the set-work, ‘The Raid’ by Oliver Waespi and their own-choice work, ‘Partita’ by Philip Sparke, alongside their march and sacred item pieces to add the Baxter Shield honours to go with the New Zealand National title they won earlier in the year. It was the first time the band had won the event since 2011.

The organization’s sibling band Windsor Brass also competed with huge gusto. Despite not achieving the win they were hoping for, their performances of Labour & Love, Shine as the Light and their hymn & march, they still put up quite the fight.

Results:

A Grade:

Adjudicator: Maureen Cameron
Test Piece/Own Choice/Sacred Item/Stage March = Total

1. Brisbane Excelsior (Howard Taylor): 196/195/95/92 = 578
2. South Brisbane Federal (Owen Clarke): 189/193/89/90 = 561
3. Brisbane Brass (Joshua McKechie): 190/190/90/88 = 558

B Grade:

Adjudicator: Maureen Cameron
Test Piece/Own Choice/Sacred Item/Stage March = Total

1. Brisbane Brass No 2 (Greg Aitken): 541
2. Surfers Paradise Brass (Scott King): 536
3. Windsor Brass (Stuart Lang): 527

C Grade:

Adjudicator: Maureen Cameron
Test Piece/Own Choice/Sacred Item/Stage March = Total

1. Sunshine Brass (Nelson Oakley): 534
2. Capricornia Silver Band (Rod Haynes): 530
3. Yellow Cabs Bayside Brass (Jennifer Owens): 522

D Grade:

Adjudicator: Maureen Cameron
Test Piece/Own Choice/Sacred Item/Stage March = Total

1. Sunnybank Brass No 2 (Matthew White): 539

Courtesy of 4BarsRest.com

What a Night – “An Evening with Sheona White”!

The dust has well and truly settled on what could only be described as an impeccable night of music-making with world-class tenor horn Virtuoso and all-round-lovely-lady Sheona White.

The band prepared diligently for this concert – the 2nd in our concert series for the year – with the intention of showing Sheona that we were truly worthy of our recent New Zealand victory. It was the Thursday night rehearsal that dumb-founded us all, as we got through all of Sheona’s 8 solos or duets in record time and with relative ease – so much so that Howard had time to fill in between just to give her a little bit of a rest!

Our first performance at the Queensland Multicultural Centre went particularly smoothly, even though the auditorium had an extremely dry acoustic, where it felt like you were playing on your own! The band opened with the Australian premiere of Solo Horn player Benjamin Tubb-Hearne’s ‘Launch’ before steam rolling into ‘Where Eagles Sing‘ by Paul Lovatt-Cooper.

It was at this point that we first introduced Sheona White, who performed Kenneth Downie’s ‘The Piper of Dundee‘, with much aplomb, before giving a heart-wrenching performance of Hugh Nash’s ‘Demelza‘ – a melody that is close to the heart of our conductor, Howard Taylor.

The band came back to the forefront with an energetic performance of ‘Comedy Tonight‘, where we’re pretty sure that the percussion section used everything they could get their hands on.
Dale Hosking, the current Queensland Champion of Champions led us on with a beautiful reading of Goff Richard’s ‘Pastorale‘, before Sheona returned to cement her place as one of the best tenor horn players in the world with every horn player’s go-to solo: ‘Capriccio Brillante‘.

Closing the first half saw two performances that featured tenor horn and baritone horn, the first being a performance of a highly underrated piece of music from the pen of John Golland: ‘Meiso‘, which was originally written for the Black Dyke tour of Japan in the early 1990s. This concert saw our baritone superstar Ross Moloney join Sheona to perform this hauntingly beautiful duet that truly tests both the soloists (not that you’d ever tell!). The half ended with Philip Sparke’s suite from Hymn of the Highlands, ended in darkness for special effect.

Ross Moloney & Sheona White performing John Golland's 'Meiso'.

Ross Moloney & Sheona White performing John Golland’s ‘Meiso’.

The 2nd half opened at lightning speed with Mark Freeh’s whirlwind arrangement of ‘Malaguena’, before leading to a performance of a piece that nearly every bandsman has played in their life – ‘A Disney Fantasy’. The band’s set finished with a gorgeous Tongan hymn – one that the band had performed recently in collaboration with the Park Tonga Brass Band at Mt. Coot-tha Botanical Gardens. 

We were extremely happy to welcome Sheona White back to the stage to perform a relatively new work for the tenor horn written by Christopher Bond entitled ‘A New Dawn’. This was a piece that despite how ‘easy’ it may sound, it extremely demanding in terms of technique, dexterity and range, and it was quite the treat for the audience and bandsmen alike.

At this point of the evening Brisbane XLCR’s solo horn player, Benjamin Tubb-Hearne, joined Sheona on stage to play Bizet’s ‘Deep Inside the Sacred Temple from the Pearl Fishers’, something that you don’t hear very often, especially played on tenor horns! The sound was sweet and it was a lovely rendition from both of the players!

Benjamin Tubb-Hearne & Sheona White get ready to perform 'Deep Inside the Sacred Temple'

Benjamin Tubb-Hearne & Sheona White get ready to perform ‘Deep Inside the Sacred Temple’

The band followed with Alan Catherall’s arrangement of ‘Batman: The Movie’, before a moving tribute to the victims of the recent Manchester Bombing with Andi Cook’s arrangement of ‘Manchester’, where all the profits from the sheet music go towards helping the victims recover their lives.

Our last treat from Sheona was from the pen of Philip Sparke, who wrote ‘Aria’ for her after listening to her perform during one of his record producing sessions. It was clear that Sheona loved performing this piece and you could hear a pin-drop after her final note – the audience not knowing whether or not they should clap yet! The band finished with a classic: ‘Treasure of Tchaikovsky’, before thanking Sheona for what could only be described as a monumental evening of masterful music making.

Thank you to everyone who came along and supported the band, the volunteers from both within the organization and outside and of course Sheona, for just exuding class – it will be hard to forget this concert!