Reviews: RMC Band Concert ‘Music at Noon’


After attending the recent Music at noon RMC Band concert, students from 6th to Canberra Girls High School were commissioned to write a review of the performance.

Their music teacher, Wyana O’Keeffe, selected two reviews for publication by Canberra Weekly: the first of Eleanor Harley, the second of Eleanor Hall.

On Tuesday 7th June the Band of the Royal Military College, Duntroon performed at the Canberra Theater for the Music at noon concert. The band’s primary role is ceremonial, but luckily for us, it’s also a concert band. Led by Major Matt O’Keeffe, the theme for this concert was the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, so all the pieces were made popular in 1951, 1952 and 1953. The atmosphere was exciting and full of anticipation . The performance was interesting and the music played without noticeable fault.

The third track they played was called ‘Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, by Robin & Styne, with a solo by Sergeant Jen Cooke. It was originally in a movie called Men prefer blondes, and sung by Marilyn Monroe. It was in four/four beats, and it was a homophonic piece, that is to say it had a melody and a harmony. The atmosphere was jazzy, and the public was enthusiastic as soon as the announcement was made. The sixth track they played was from one of my favorite movies, Sing in the rain. The song they played was Hello, by Brown & Freed. The audience was buzzing with excitement and the vocalist, Sergeant Deb O’Toole’s voice matched the music perfectly. The trumpet part was particularly important, having the opportunity to shine in the instrumental section. Without a doubt, the most popular piece they performed was Pump and Circumstance #1, by Sir Edward Elgar. This piece is often called the second national anthem of the United Kingdom and it was fitting to include it in the concert, as it was played at the Queen’s coronation. The audience was invited by Major O’Keeffe to sing along, and the lyrics and a slide show of photos of the Queen were displayed on screen. At that point, where the audience started to sing Land of Hope and Glory, the dynamics shifted from piano forte to piano mezzo, so that the vocals could be heard. It was interesting to see sections of the piece that are normally played by string instruments played by brass and wind instruments.

I really enjoyed the concert, because the songs that were played were nice and matched the theme very well. As a clarinetist myself, I especially enjoyed watching the clarinet section, and hearing the clarinets harmonize with the other instruments was lovely to hear. The following Music at noon The Duntroon Band performance will be on Tuesday August 9th and I highly recommend you go.

  • By Eleanor Harley, Canberra Girls Grammar School

On Tuesday 7th June we went to the Canberra Theater and saw a performance by Royal Military College Duntroon which celebrated Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee. There were ten songs, all from the early 1950s, three of which particularly caught my attention.

English dances, Movement 2, by Malcolm Arnold happens to be one of them. This piece was light, crisp, high-pitched and had an upbeat tempo. The speed of this song shifted between fast and slightly slower throughout its duration. Mainly wind instruments featured in this piece, with a constant cymbal beat in the background which was quite fast. Another common feature was the use of accumulation. I think it made the piece more engaging and interesting to listen to because it was very dramatic and left you on the edge of your seat as the ensemble played louder and louder. This song was composed for an orchestra by Arnold in 1950 and 1951. It is part of a set of melodies all inspired by country folk dances. I think the Royal Military College performance is a good reflection of that era of music through their use of texture in this piece. All the layers of the song, with the chirping flutes and piccolos playing above, gave me an image of flowers in bloom and birds chattering in early spring. This piece was a breath of fresh air and was very different in speed and sound from the other lower, slower songs in the concert.

In all its charm and jazz, Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, created by Robin & Styne and performed by Sergeant Jen Cooke and the Royal Military College, was well received by audiences. This song was first seen in the movie Men prefer blondes in 1953. I, too, enjoyed this tune because of the surprisingly strong lead vocal which was greatly complemented by the instrumentalists. I heard lots of trumpets, saxophones and other jazz instruments playing alongside a quiet drum beat hidden behind the glamor of the other musicians. The music was rather slow and soft, while the lead vocal was loud and powerful. Towards the end of the piece, other percussion instruments joined in, creating a grand and elegant atmosphere that went well with the song’s lyrics, talking about diamonds and expensive jewelry. This song is not necessarily something one would expect at a Jubilee concert, but I think it was highly praised by the enthusiastic and spirited members of the audience for its thoughtful composition and the incredible performance of Sergeant Cooke.

It was very exciting when piper Dave Leaders and some of the Queen’s Royal Hussars musicians appeared on stage to play Highland Cathedral by Roever & Korb. This piece started out with just one piper and a rhythm drummer, but when many other instruments eventually joined in, the song really came to life, just like a traditional Scottish performance. I could distinguish a wide range of instruments, from flutes and clarinets to trumpets and French horns. Mostly wind musicians, accompanied by percussionists with all sorts of fancy drums. This tune definitely reminded me of a royal jubilee with its fluctuating speed and strong bridge or climax of the piece. I could clearly imagine a big event like a coronation, which is interesting given that this song is often performed at huge Scottish cultural events, including Scottish rugby union matches. You may also have heard this piece at a wedding or funeral, and it is also a popular choice for an alternative national anthem of Scotland. I think this song can be adapted to these events because it was loud and loud and exciting, with a fast and slow tempo to thrill the audience. Overall, this performance captured the essence of a true royal ceremony, and I could tell the bagpipes were well received by the audience.

In conclusion, this concert was a colorful display of many pieces of music from the Queen’s accession era which were beautifully performed by the Royal Military College Band.

  • Eleanor Hall, Canberra Girls’ High School


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