Musical cooperation between two countries could not have been stronger when two conductors shared conducting duties on stage with the Royal Australian Navy Band at the recent Maryborough Music Conference held in Queensland during early July.
Musical Director of the Royal Australian Navy Band - Sydney, Lieutenant Brian O’Kane shared some of the musical duties and conducting with the United States Marine Corps ‘The Presidents Own’ Assistant Musical Director Captain Ryan J. Nowlan.
“In keeping with the international connection, the concerts were a programme of music from different countries,” Lieutenant O’Kane said.
“Captain Nowlan is highly regarded in both military and civilian music circles in the United States and his attendance at the conference was highly anticipated.
“The Presidents Own is considered one of the premier military music ensembles in the world and regularly perform for White House Presidential functions and public concerts across the United States.”
The tour included a feature performance to a full house at the Maryborough Music Conference; the largest wind band and music education conference in Australia and a keynote performance and another full house at the ‘Aspire’ conference, held at the Queensland Conservatorium.
Despite the long distances travelled, between the Conference and several other performances in Brisbane, Ballina and Laurieton, the Band performed directly to combined audiences of more than 5,000 people. Some regions had not had a visit from a Navy Band in more than 20 years, with great audience feedback.
Lieutenant O’Kane said the performances were the result of months of preparation.
“We spent many hours over two months before the tour using video conferencing to plan and discuss the concert series,” Lieutenant O’Kane said.
“It was a good musical experience for both the Royal Australian Navy and for Captain Nowlan to work together.”
The concerts featured one of Navy’s lead vocalists, Leading Seaman Musician Tracy Kennedy singing several of Captain Nowlan’s vocal arrangements, Able Seaman Musician Andrew Crago as solo alto saxophone on another titled ‘Stardust’ and Leading Seaman Musician Volker Schoeler performing Johan De Meij’s T-Bone Concerto on trombone.
The Royal Australian Navy Band Rock and Jazz groups also performed at the conference. This included performing with US based bass player, Rodney Whitaker – a highlight for several of the Australian musicians.
But the audience always has the last word.
“This is the best the band has sounded. We are so lucky to have military bands of this calibre in Australia and they are really world class – they aren’t just parade bands anymore, but ambassadors for high-quality music, musicianship and the excellent representatives for the Royal Australian Navy in general,” a regular audience member commented.