Qdos in New Zealand - Professor David King and Woolston Brass


Professor David King in Canterbury
10-15 Aug - Masterclasses and Seminars
Band: Woolston Brass
Concert: Aurora Centre, Christchurch
15 August

News and Views from a Woolston Lifer

Five minutes into Woolston’s rehearsal with Professor David King and it’s blindingly clear as to why the A+’s on this guys report card stretch off the page. With credentials like his, it’s no wonder there’s an air of adulation about the rehearsal.

Presence of Royalty

There are other more tangible signs that we are in the presence of royalty. The band room itself has had a pull-through. The untidy piles of manuscript and scores have vanished, so too have the usual array of battle-weary mutes, clothing and other bits of lost-property. The hoover has dealt to the detritus. The seating is orderly as is our behaviour. Habitual late-comers are early and back-chatters silent. We are minding our manners, and we are all ears.

Master Communicator

Full of surprises, deep-voiced David makes no mention of note-values, untidy entries, balance, tuning or scruffy ensemble. Mostly he talks emotion. Unafraid, his is the parlance of the aesthete, there are no patronising ‘get on side with the boys’ rugby analogies or sports-commentary clichés. He is mesmerising – a master communicator with a ready vocabulary: beauty, landscape, pictures, texture, colour, intensity, drama, power. He is flamboyant and without inhibition – prerequisites perhaps.

It’s not so much that his direction is easy to follow, it’s utterly unavoidable. His intent is expressed top to toe. Derisive of ‘show ponies’ he is himself all economy, but every twitch of a face muscle signals an instruction and initiates a response. He can speak whole sentences with his eyes.

Conductors Workshop

In Professor King’s “Conductors’ Workshop” on Thursday night Dwayne Bloomfield (Timaru), Phil Johnston (Addington), Jonny Greenwell (Rangiora) and Ray Blampied (Sumner) all benefited from what the man had to offer.

With his no-holds-barred approach, the professor guided his subjects through an incisive session that was, as much as anything else, about communication through body language. There were some funny moments as the apprentices grappled with the finer points of this concept – all were clearly from the Grizz Wylie School of Deportment. However trenchant they might have felt their sessions to have been, all four gentlemen won the admiration of the band, and all had made significant improvement by the end of their 30 minutes.

Friday night and we’re back into serious rehearsal for Saturday night’s concert. This time deep-voiced David makes plenty mention of note-values, untidy entries, balance, tuning and scruffy ensemble. The deadline is closer now and things are decidedly less ethereal! He irons out the wrinkles on the hoof though, and by the end of the night he has a result, and we have the makings of great concert up our sleeve.

Cocky Ocker

You have to wonder how this cocky ocker went down with those dour Yorkshiremen when in the early 80s, he arrived in the ancestral home of brass bands and proceeded to put a bit of stick about – for the next couple of decades! I guess the proof is in the pudding.

Without fear of contradiction, I can tell you that the week-long David King experience was unforgettable, and that Saturday night’s concert, performed to a sizeable audience at the Auroroa Centre, was the cherry on the cake.

Woolston Brass and David King

My own personal troupe of followers, though too partisan to be taken seriously, were nevertheless unanimous in their chosen highlight – one of the Professor’s solo items, Somewhere over the Rainbow. It makes you wonder why we bother with the hefty stuff – contrast, I suppose.

No doubt there will be a blow-by-blow account in the next issue of the band’s newsletter, ‘The Woolstonian’ for the connoisseur.

David King’s visit has had a tremendous impact on the band. The buzz he created will reverberate for some time to come, and we’re hoping that he returns sooner rather than later.

Dave Johnstone
The Woolstonian


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