Director Feedback

What a whirlwind the last few weeks have been! Week four, Term Two is only just upon us and already we have had three big events in the MEP calendar. With the mid-year concert coming up and the forthcoming eisteddfod appearances for Percussion Ensemble and an out of school event for the Vocal ensemble there is no time to waste! Now for the recap…

Instrumental Evening, April 11th.

164926_522613831132350_683292786_n[2]Well, for those of you in the MEP who haven’t performed or attended a soiree yet, let’s just say it’s the new black, and leave it at that. After just two of these events the evenings have LEGEND written all over them. This time around we had a slew of talented instrumentalists and singers, several performing in public for the first time whilst some of our more seasoned performers took the chance to workshop material or debut their upcoming assessments. As before the standard was excellent and all the performances were received in an atmosphere of warmth and appreciation. It really is a lovely event and I would encourage any of you who haven’t already participated to start thinking about your involvement in one of the events either this term (June 20th) or next (September 12). Great to hear the String Ensemble busting out the Bartok too.

Pupil Free Day, April 30th

923554_522569564470110_1415377658_n[1]Both Concert, Stage, percussion and Rock ensembles took part in this term’s Pupil free day workshop this term; free in the sense of “no other students at school” and free in the sense of gratis to the members, thanks to the generous support of the MEP. Rock Band had a terrific day-long session with renowned Canadian producer Brian Campeau and by all accounts it was very productive. Campo, as he refers himself to the locals, is already asking when he can come back which is a pleasant referral for the members involved- well done students! Concert bands had intensive tutorials on the new material they will cover this term and especially fun for me was the jam with the stage bands and tutors, with one professional per section (trumpets, trombones, rhythm, reeds) including Nick- I’m in the house band on the Voice – Garbett. Ali Foster said her session was the most productive, and best behaved, workshop she has had at the school, all of which bodes well for their upcoming performance at the Sydney Percussion Eisteddfod. Vocal ensemble had the serendipitous good fortune to find a great new rehearsal space by way of their usual room being busy. From now on they will have the benefit of the hall to rehearse in. This from Mr Paul:

“At today’s rehearsal we learned two new arrangements – Holi hla hla Mandela, a south African resistance song from the apartheid era, and I Believe I Can Fly, a contemporary pop song. We learned both of them completely and they will form part of our repertoire for our gig on 23rd May.  We also revised the songs Bonse Aba (with Carla on the djembe), All You Need is Love by the Beatles, and a fun arrangement of Ho Hey by The Lumineers.

We’re also working on our singing technique and our choir “sound”.  Singing in a choir is a very different experience to singing a solo so we are focusing on how to create a “blended” sound.  It requires good singing technique and keen listening. We were happy to have 4 guys singing with us today – keep coming back gents – we need that BASS sound!”

Band Camp, May 6 to 8th

935465_522975921096141_1293399431_n[1]After a regrettable start with the buses the camp proved to be a huge success. All ensembles were involved and clearly benefited from their time away. While camps at this level are not really the forum for bringing works to completion, they are a fantastic exercise in building familiarity with the material and a sense of camaraderie in the bands involved. While the nature of these events means that many groups were not at their full complement the improvement in ensemble performance was noticeable. We tried hard to have students involved in as many activities as possible and I think improvements were made in that area. Highlights included the workshop for Senior Concert Band with renowned international conductor Simon Thew and the Latin rhythm workshop with Toby Bender for percussion ensemble. With the luxury of time and participants we were also able to trial the chamber group idea that Romano and I have been discussing for some time. The new Acacia venue which proved to be a great success. The new digs were modern, well laid out and spacious. While a couple more rehearsal spaces would be ideal and help mitigate some down time for those members only involved in only one ensemble overall the size was well suited for our group. As ever, the staff at the Tops were professional and courteous with food and lodging being appetizing and commodious. Local band, Leisure Bandits (check ‘em on Triple J, kids!  played an amazing set and then jammed late into the night with members of the MEP. Thanks to them for their generosity, enthusiasm and encouragement. It was also very pleasing to hear the Vocal Ensemble perform for the first time under the guidance of their new conductor, and I would like to congratulate them all for what was a really great performance. Congratulations and thanks also to all the students and ensembles who participated in the camp. You were focused, diligent and courteous throughout and made the whole experience very pleasant.

Murray Jackson – Program Director

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