Sunday, October 1, 2023


The Band Of the Royal Military College

Llewellyn Hall 30 September


Reviewed By Len Power


Looking at the resplendent uniformed large band with their sparkling instruments on the stage at Llewellyn Hall, we quickly realized we were part of a major event. We were not disappointed as the band performed for over two hours a program of 5 works for wind instruments with skill and obvious enjoyment.

Band of the Royal Military College

The second officer in command, Captain Natalie Dajski, conducted the first work, “Second Suite In F”, a 1922 work by Gustav Holst. It was a good work to begin the concert with its robust march that showed the band at its best with its full-bodied sound.

The second part of the work, “Song Without Words, ‘I’ll Love My Love’” showed the band’s ability to play sensitive, melodic music of great beauty. It was followed by “Song of the Blacksmith”, a part full of character and it concluded with “Fantasia On The Dargason”, a bright, melodic piece with a great finale.

The Officer Commanding, Music Director Major Matt O’Keeffe, then conducted the 2012 “2nd Clarinet Concerto” by Spain’s Óscar Navarro. Band member, Cameron McPherson, played the solo clarinet for this work and showed his mastery of the instrument with a performance of haunting sensitivity. The band accompanied him very well throughout, right up to the thrilling finale.

Cameron McPherson and Major Matt O'Keeffe

Each of the works, introduced by the conductor, told a story and the next work, “Internal Combustion”, a 1999 piece by the American composer, David Gillingham, was no exception. From its dynamic opening, the work was clearly an homage to the motor car. The orchestra appeared to have great fun playing this work which was tinged with the humour of all the familiar sounds interpreted musically. The finale was spectacularly played.

After an interval, the orchestra played “Traveller”, a 2003 work by the American composer, David Maslanka. From its dramatic opening through to its quiet, reflective ending, this work covered all the stages of life’s journey. The band gave it a fine performance.

The final work of the evening, “Symphony No. 1 – Leunig’s Prayer Book” was surprisingly introduced by its composer, Australian, Jodie Blackshaw. Her clear description of its meaning prior to the playing of this work gave it an extra depth of understanding. Based on the four prayers of the Australian cartoonist, Michael Leunig, the work depicted a journey through life leading to the creation of a new sun, symbolic of a new life. The orchestra played this demanding work with colourful precision and great clarity, bringing this memorable concert to a thrilling close.


 Photos by Dalice Trost

This review was first published by Canberra CityNews digital edition on 1 October 2023.

Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at