KUCHING: A band from the UK joined forces with the young musicians of St Joseph’s Secondary School (SJS) Band to put up a concert that delighted more than 1,000 supporters who packed the pews.
SJS Band held its fifth annual community concert themed ‘A Brass Spectacular’ at Trinity Methodist Church here recently.
It had in recent years performed and competed in Singapore, Germany and the US, entertaining audiences and making friends along the way.
This year, the band played host to the exceptional Onyx Brass Quintet from London.
“Normally, we spent four to five days of rehearsal to ensure a really nice result. This time, due to our busy schedules and time constraint, we rehearsed in just two-and-a-half days,” said SJS Band programme coordinator Jonathan Fox.
“I’m extremely proud of what our young musicians have put on tonight at the concert, together with a group of professionals as a result of pure determination.”
Forty-three performers took part in the musical extravaganza by SJS Band in collaboration with several individuals, corporation and organisations including advisor Datuk JC Fong, Band Parents’ Support Team president Zuraimi Sabki, Yayasan Sarawak and Cahya Mata Sarawak to help students realise their musical potential.
The artistic team led by SJS Band director June Ling has been polished over the years into a finely-tuned machine to maintain a sustainable, balanced programme providing quality music education and a wide range of artistic experiences to students.
SJS Band continues to give back to the local community through services and high-calibre public performances. Since 2011, the school band has produced five community concerts — ‘Ode to Joy’ (2011), ‘SJS on Broadway’ (2012), ‘A Celebration in Concert’ (2013), ‘An Evening at the Symphony (2014), and ‘A Brass Spectacular’ this year.
World-class musicians share the stage with these fine young talents every year, and this time they got to host the Onyx Brass.
“Performing with the SJS Band has been really inspiring for us. We have worked with many schools and met lots of students, but the students from Saint Joseph’s Secondary School here are very special.
“They demonstrate strong work ethics that we have not seen for such a long time among students as they are well-disciplined, very musical and full of energy. It has been a real pleasure for us to be here,” said a member of Onyx Brass, David Gordon-Shute.
Gordon-Shute, who was here for the first time, said Sarawak was simply a wonderful place.
“The people in Sarawak are very welcoming and we had a really lovely time with them here – they have been giving us royal treatment. The foods here is amazing, and I want to learn how to make Laksa Sarawak and bring it back to London,” he added.
The show kicked off at 8pm with SJS Band performing James Swearingen’s ‘Prelude and Energico’ to warm up the crowd before continuing with a spectacular rendition of three short pieces for SJS Saxophone Quartet.
Next up was SJS Percussion, performing Pat Metheny’s ‘Metheny Dream’, receiving thunderous applause from the audience.
The show continued with Onyx Brass delivering Aaron Copland’s ‘Fanfare for the Common Man’ together with some SJS Band members.
Things got heated up as Onyx Brass stayed on stage for their first set, the curtain raised by SJS Band with their rendition of Reinhold’s Gliere’s ‘Russian Sailor’s Dance’.
SJS Jazz Band continued the show with Astor Piazzolla’s ‘Libertango’ and ended the first set with performance by Onyx Brass and SJS Brass Quintet of GF Handel’s ‘Music from the Royal Fireworks’.
In their final set, Onyx Brass brought the house down with SJS Brass members with Tylman Susato’s ‘La Mourisque’. They closed the set with SJS Band in a heart-thumping ‘Gonna Fly Now’ by Bill Conti, taken from the film ‘Rocky’.
Onyx Brass continues to be the leading light in establishing the brass quintet as a medium for serious chamber music, presenting it in the entertaining and articulate style that has become the group’s trademark.
BCC Music Magazine has described the group as ‘easily the classiest brass ensemble in Britain’, while Gramophone hails its performance as ‘some of the most thrilling chamber brass-playing of its kind’.
Education is a large part of the remit of Onyx Brass with their workshops and master-class range from Primary School to Juilliard School. The group is currently resident ensemble at Imperial College, University of London.
The grand show was also attended by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and Local Government Minister Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian, who is also president of the Old Josephians’ Association.