Brass band partners with youth in charity concert
IF you've been to a major community festival or returned services-related event in Toowoomba, chances are you've heard the Harlaxton RSL Brass Band.
Formed in 1991, players were predominantly ex-servicemen, whose experiences stretched back to the Second World War.
These days, the mixed-sex membership of about 30 players ranges in age from late teens to octogenarians.
"They are the first band for a long time where I feel more energised after a two-hour practice than I did going in," said musical director Tim Gray.
"It's just such a good atmosphere. My brief was 'we want to get together, play music and have some fun', so that's their ethos."
This year the band has also lent support to Tim's establishment of the Toowoomba Regional Youth Orchestra, providing a musical outlet for traditional school, home-school and tertiary students.
TYRO has already grown to 35 members, aged from nine to 19, with a youth-focused repertoire including movie and musical tunes, pop and even dub step!
On June 4 they make their big debut alongside the brass band, with a Stage and Screen Concert from 3pm at the USQ Concert Hall.
Proceeds, appropriately, go to Teen Challenge Toowoomba, one of many charities the band has helped over the years.
"I really wanted to do a public concert with these guys (the brass band) because they really are worth listening to in their own right," Tim said.
A music teacher for about 24 years, and a clarinet rather than a brass player himself, Tim has been with the brass band for just two years, but said he was delighted members welcomed new material that young people could relate to which would keep the music alive.
"They're very much young at heart - not slowing down at all.
"Some bands get stuck playing the same songs over the years - and it gets old.
"We do still play the traditional songs for memorial services, which is very important, as well as old favourites, but they're also open to playing new tunes like Happy from Despicable Me."
The brass band's repertoire includes everything from Nearer My God to Thee to Puttin' on the Ritz and In the Mood to Hey Jude, Baggy Trousers, La Bamba and Pirates of the Carribean.
Tim said he had long wanted to establish a youth orchestra, which Toowoomba has not had for well over a decade, but the brass band had helped make it a reality.
"It was a case of right timing and right people," he said.
"When I told them about the idea they were more than open to helping the youngest generation to take up an instrument," Tim said.
He plans to combine the brass band and orchestra for a couple of numbers at the USQ concert and is excited at the prospect, as he says, are brass band members, keen to share a musical legacy.
The band is always looking for new players of all ages and capabilities.
Some instruments and all uniforms are provided. For more details contact call Mike Gowdie on 07 4632 5288.
STAGE AND SCREEN CONCERT
What: Toowoomba Regional Youth Orchestra debut concert with Harlaxton RSL Brass Band
When: Sunday, June 4 at 3pm
Where: USQ Concert Hall
Tickets: Adult $15, Concession $10, Family $40 available at the door