SJS performs a Brass Spectacular with the Onyx Brass Quintet
By Jude Toyat
KUCHING: It was a brassy celebration of great classical music at the St Joseph’s School (SJS) Band fifth annual community concert entitled ‘A Brass Spectacular’ at Trinity Methodist Church here recently.
In recent years, SJS Band has performed and competed in Singapore, Germany, and the United States, entertaining audiences and making friends along the way.
This year, the band stayed put and extended their hospitality to overseas guests, right here in our great hometown by bringing in the exceptional Onyx Brass Quintet from London, United Kingdom to combine forces with the young musicians of Saint Joseph’s Secondary School where over 1, 000 supporters witnessed the fruits of their collective labour at the concert.
“Normally, we spend four to five days of rehearsal to ensure that we get a really nice result. This time, due to our busy schedules and time constraint, we managed to rehearse in just two and a half days and get everything done so as to please the audience.
“I am 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,” said SJS Band programme coordinator Jonathan Fox.
Forty-three performers were involved in the musical extravaganza that was presented by SJS Band in collaboration with several individuals, corporation and organisations including advisor Datuk J C Fong, Band Parents’ Support Team president Zuraimi Sabki, Yayasan Sarawak and Cahya Mata Sarawak to help students to realise their artistic potential.
The artistic team led by SJS Band director June Ling has gelled over the years into a fine-tuned machine that helps maintain a sustainable, well-balanced band programme that provides quality music education and a wide range of artistic experiences to the band students.
SJS Band proudly gives back to the local community in both service and public high calibre performances. From 2011 to today, the school band had produced five community concerts including ‘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 continue to share the stage with these fine young talents each and every year, and this time, they were honoured 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 a strong work ethic that we have not seen for such a long time among students as they were also well-disciplined and very musical and just full of energy. It has been a real pleasure for us to be here,” said a member of Onyx Brass David Gordon-Shute.
David, who was here for his first time, said that Sarawak is simply a wonderful place.
“The people in Sarawak are very welcoming and we had a really lovely time with them here who has been giving us royal treatment. The foods here are 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 who delivered their performance of 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 which the curtain was raised by SJS Band through their performance 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 G.F. Handel’s ‘Music from the Royal Fireworks’.
In their final set, Onyx Brass brought the house down with SJS Brass members to perform Tylman Susato’s ‘La Mourisque’. They closed their set with a heart-thumping music of Bill Conti’s ‘Gonna Fly Now’ taken from the film ‘Rocky’ with SJS Band.
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 groups’ trademark.
BCC Music Magazine described the group as “easily the classiest brass ensemble in Britain”, while Gramophone hailed “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 the Juilliard School. The group is currently resident ensemble of Imperial College, University of London.
Also present were Minister of Local Government Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian who is also the Old Josephians’ Association president, and Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.