By Jamie Kennedy and Dale Truscott
We went down and checked out the inaugural Sydney International Brass Festival, 3-6 July, put together by the exceptional Steve Rosse and Heather Davies and hosted by the Australian Institute of Music. Here is a flavour of what the week was like (only four days long, but it felt like a week) and some of the highlights and insights from the activities.
What did we do all day?
The daily order of events ran to a plan, starting with breathing/yoga class at 8.30 (for the exceptionally committed). After this, there were warm-up/technique classes (10am) for different instruments, each one taken by a guest trumpet, horn, euphonium, trombone, tuba or jazz specialist. Over lunch there were concerts by local and visiting student performers, followed by solo workshops/masterclasses at 2pm, again sorted by instrument. At 4.30 each day was a twilight concert, featuring performances by local and visiting professional artists, followed by a gala concert in the main hall after dinner. There was no rest for the wicked!
It was a typical conference of enthusiastic people – ideas were buzzing everywhere during the official activities, and buzzing around even faster during the breaks. It made for very long days, and later in the week it would have been tempting to skip the odd event (for a nap or a bike-ride in the beautiful Sydney winter sun), if it weren’t for the fact that every single concert and masterclass had something very interesting on its programme.
It all took place in and around Australian Hall, an old classical town-hall style venue on Elizabeth St, located right near Hyde Park. It had only recently been renovated and re-opened for use by the Australian Institute of Music, and was a regular tardis of a venue: it seemed that this large shoe-box hall, with its cramped theatre stage at one end, was somehow squeezed into nowhere between two huge buildings. The acoustic was particularly well-suited to small groups of brass instruments (how fortunate!) although it was not so kind to the loud end of the spectrum, tending to swamp the audience in sound. Other venues used for classes and small concerts were the Pitt St Uniting Church, the Salvation Army Congress Hall next door and the Masonic Temple down the road.
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