Woolston Brass

Conductor: Tyme Marsters
Featuring: Simon O'Neill
James Hay Theatre
Friday 8th November

In the world of New Zealand opera the name Simon O’Neill needs no introduction. In the world of New Zealand brass banding the same can be said of Woolston Brass. 

Both have performed to great acclaim in the city, so not surprisingly a packed audience welcomed them to the stage at the reopened James Hay Theatre.

The concert kick started a fundraising drive for a new Woolston band hall; a significant project for a community ensemble, and especially noteworthy that Simon O’Neill donated his time (and to a second event a couple of days later in his hometown of Ashburton) to aid the cause.


The band took to the stage just a month or so after retaining its Canterbury Provincial A Grade crown at the same venue, kicking off with an energetic run through of Dvorak’s ‘Carnival Overture’ with some wonderful lyrical playing contrasting with the lightning fast filigree work.

The compere Tim Beveridge introduced the star soloist in a brace of works from Wagner’s ‘Ring Cycle’, the operas that made his name around the world. The combination may have been an unusual pairing, but it worked wonderfully well. 

It was perhaps a little surprising to hear such a celebrated Heldentenor sing with the aid of amplification, but O’Neill was in wonderful voice with control across the range, his trademark burnished sound evident throughout.

The combination may have been an unusual pairing, but it worked wonderfully well. 


A particular highlight of the evening was the performance of Bert Appermont’s ‘A Brussels Requiem’. Written in 2016 in response to the Brussels terrorist atrocity it was very appropriately dedicated to those affected by the events in Christchurch on March 15th.

It was given a virtuosic performance tempered with a balanced emotional core of understanding.

There was lighter fayre after the interval with Woolston taking up a different stage formation to play a number of exuberant items along with a lighter contribution from the star soloist - including ‘Londonderry Air’ and the timeless opera favourite, 'Largo al Factotum’.

As the audience dispersed into the warm Christchurch evening the talk was divided between the followers of Simon O’Neill, amazed at the playing of Woolston Brass, and the supporters of Woolston Brass, simply blown away by the quality of what they had heard from one of the world’s finest singers. 

That was the almost perfect outcome to savour for an adventurous pairing of two of New Zealand’s leading musical ambassadors. 

Andrew Snell

Support us for less than a cup of coffee...

4BR wants to ensure that the brass band movement remains vibrant and relevant. We also want to be able to question, challenge and critically examine those who run and play in it, producing high quality journalism that informs as well as entertains our readers.

So if like us you value a strong, independent perspective on the brass band world - then why not consider becoming a supporter and help make our future and that of a burgeoning brass band movement more secure.

So one less cappuccino then?

Support us    

Black Dyke Band - Swiss Nationals Gala Concert

Saturday 19 September • KKL, Europaplatz 1, 6005 Luzern, Switzerland 6000

The Marple Band - Marple Band Autumn Concert

Friday 16 October • Marple Methodist Church, Church Lane, Marple SK6 6AY

The Marple Band - Marple and Hawk Green Bands Concert Compstall

Saturday 7 November • St Pauls Church, Compstall Rd, Compstall, Stockport, Cheshire SK6 5HU

Contest: Swiss National Championships

Saturday 28 November • Stravinski Hall, Montreaux. Claude-Nobs 5, 1820 Montreaux, Switzerland 1820

Contest: Swiss National Championships

Sunday 29 November • Stravinski Hall, Montreaux. Claude-Nobs 5, 1820 Montreaux, Switzerland 1820

Amesbury Town Band

August 5 • Players and beginners of any standard are always warmly welcomed especially some more solo cornets and a spare percussionists to help out existing players. Feel free to drop in even if you just fancy a blow or want to try another instrument. After Covid!

Crewe Brass

July 26 • Due to relocation Crewe Brass require a top quality Bass player to complete our line up, Position negotiable withe the MD, Matt Pithers on 07921 062732. Enquires for other positions are welcome to apply in strict confidence.. .

The Marple Band

July 20 • The Marple Band were promoted to 1st Section at the start of 2020. We are looking for Basses Eb and Bb, front row cornets and second row cornet to join our friendly band. If fancy a change of scene and think you have what it takes to play, see below.

Phil Lawrence

Composer and conductor


 © 2020 4barsrest.com Ltd