Tapestry: Threads Programme Notes

Tapestry – Threads is an extension of last year’s incredibly popular concert of the same name. This year the West City Concert Band explores the relationship between six diverse musical cultural backgrounds found in our community and how they weave us closer together.

Throughout the concert you will hear a range of musical instruments and we will share with you their music traditions.

  • Riki Bennett on Taonga Pūoro 
  • Bookmarks from Japan: 1 (Mt Fuji)
  • Lincolnshire Posy: 6 (Lost Lady Found)
  • The Underdrones (Helen & Mark) on Northumbrian and Uilleann pipes
  • Lincolnshire Posy: 2 (Horkstow Grange)
  • Emily Roughton & Claire Robertson on Celtic fiddle & harp
  • Yiddish Dances Movements 1 & 2
  • Hanna on saxophone
  • Yiddish Dances Movement 5


Participate in the silent auction

  • Beyond
  • Basant & Akhil on tabla, with Sargam on sitar
  • Homage to Bharat
  • Nurture
  • Ricky de Medeiros on Latin guitar
  • Symphonic Dances 3: Fiesta
  • Encore: In Living Colour (with all guest performers)

1: Riki Bennett – Taonga Pūoro

Taonga pūoro are traditional Māori musical instruments which saw a revival in the early 2000’s. 

Traditionally they are regarded as the children of the families of the gods who brought them into being. The instruments are as diverse as bone flutes, wooden trumpets to rhythmic, struck instruments designed to keep time.  They are used for both spiritual and physical purposes, for example, to summon spirits for healing, to make people laugh or to send messages or mark stages of life. 

Riki opens today’s concert with a range of taonga pūoro to mark the start of this cultural feast. (Please confirm and cite)



2: Bookmarks from Japan: 1 (Mt Fuji) – Julie Giroux

Mount Fuji is an active volcano located on the Japanese island of Honshu.  It is so well recognised that it is a symbol of the country influencing art, poetry, music and even works of art like this sketch entitled “Fine Wind, Clear Morning” or “Red Fuji” by Hokusai Katsushika.

American composer, Julie Giroux, found inspiration in this sketch which depicts Mount Fuji in the early autumn. The wind is southerly and the sky is clear and yet, for such a well known landmark, it becomes less obvious and unrecognisable as the sun rises and burns off the cloud.  The mystery and folklore surrounding the mountain becomes more and more intriguing.

3: Lincolnshire Posy – Movements 6 (Lost Lady Found)

  Percy Grainger (composer, music conservationist and megastar pianist)

Percy Grainger, an Australian-born composer, was passionate about collecting and preserving folk music wherever he went.  The melodies of his Lincolnshire Posy, a six movement work, were collected during a trip to Lincolnshire, England in 1905. Grainger wrote, “…I have striven to create musical portraits of the old folk singers who sang the melodies to me. These countryside men, often leading hard and tragic lives, and many of them inmates of the workhouses in their latter years, were great artists in their own field and some of the strongest and sweetest personalities I’ve ever met.”  Lincolnshire Posy is widely considered as some of the best music ever written for wind band. Today we perform two of the movements for you.

Based on the ballad of the same name, the story is of a lady, who while living with her uncle in a village is kidnapped. The villagers speculate the uncle is responsible and imprison him, condemning him to death. Eventually. The lady is found in Dublin by a young squire who has fallen in love with her and she is brought back to the village. Upon her return, the villagers, mere moments away from executing the uncle at the gallows, realise their error and set him free.  There is much celebrating with church bells (emulated by the tubular bells in the closing of the movement), music, and frivolity.

4: The Underdrones – Helen Douglas (Northumbrian pipes), Mark Sanders (Uilleann pipes) 

  • Rowan Tree
  • Inisheer

5: Lincolnshire Posy – Movement 2 (Horkstow Grange)

Horkstow Grange recounts a fight between a tyrannical farm foreman named John Bowlin’, who came to blows one day with an old waggoner named J.S. “Old Steeleye” Span (influencing the name of British 70’s pop/folk group Steeleye Span) and came out the worse for wear. The style of this movement is strongly influenced by the personality of George Gouldthorpe, who sang the song for Grainger. Grainger later recounted, “Though his face and figure were gaunt…and his singing voice somewhat grating, he yet contrived to breathe a spirit of almost caressing tenderness into all he sang, said and did  though a hint of the tragic was ever-present also.”

6. Emily Roughton (Scottish fiddle) and Claire Robertson (Celtic harp)

  • Gilian’s Waltz
  • “Soggy’s” set: slip jig, jig and reel

7: Yiddish Dances, Movements 1, 2 & 5  – Adam Gorb

Yiddish Dances, by British based composer Adam Gorb, was written to celebrate a friend’s 60th birthday, and the piece very much brings the party!  The three movements performed tonight draw on the happy, energetic music of the Yiddish folk. The Khosidl, the Terkishe and the Freylachs are heard during times of celebration.  The first movement, Khosidl is satirical, yet sentimental and might be heard at a Jewish wedding. The second movement, Terkishe, is a rhythmic, up-tempo Jewish tango and the final movement of the suite is Freylachs.  It is fast and frenetic, evoking a riotous “booze-up” before the end of the night!

8: Hanna Wiskari (soprano saxophone)


Participate in the silent auction

10: Beyond – Wataru Hokoyama

Beyond was composed by Wataru Hokoyama and commissioned by the Japan Air Self-Defense Western Air Band.  Hokoyama works mainly as a composer for video games and films and this composition follows in the footsteps of composers such as John Williams.

This sense of pride for the Air Force Band is shown through the passionate and grand musical writing, full of sweeping melodies and brass fanfares.  Hokoyama provides the following note in the score: “Since this piece was commissioned by an Air Force Band, I wanted to express the scenery and the images of ‘heroes in the sky,’ and I tried to make it dramatic and cinematic.” 

11: Basant Madhur Ensemble (tabla, sitar)

North Indian Classical Music originated with the chanting of Vedic scriptures centuries ago. Since then it has developed into a highly sophisticated musical form known as ’raga sangeet’. During the Moghul Empire period in the 13th and 14th century, the sitar and tabla were developed and after some more modifications has become music popularized in the West by Ravi Shankar, and more recently his daughter Anoushka Shankar. Nowadays it is primarily presented as a concert performance art form encompassing a variety of styles from very traditional to more contemporary, while still retaining its close connection to the vocal style it originated from.

The Basant Madhur Ensemble consists of Basant Madhur and Akhil Madhur (tabla), and Sargam Madhur (Sitar).

12: Homage to Bharat – Brian Balmages

Featuring Akhil (tabla) and Sargam (sitar)

Bhārat or Bhārat-varṣa is the alternative name for the country of India and pays homage to its rich cultural traditions. Featured in our performance, is the tabla (hand drums) and the sitar (guitar-like) instrument. The piece is heavily influenced by the colour and vibrancy of the country along with one of its largest exports, Bollywood. There are dreamy, ethereal sections with a blend of vigorous rhythmic motifs and is constructed upon a typical Indian raga (or scale). Ragas are tied to occasions, times of day and year and celebrates the moment in time. Brian Balmages’ love of bhangra, modern Indian pop music, is evident in this piece. It is reminiscent of Bollywood film full of melodrama, vibrant colours, sumptuous sets and intricately choreographed dances.

– Daniel O’Connor

13: Nurture – Edward Fairlie

“There are some people for whom the act of nurturing is innate. The work they do is often unheralded, acknowledgement of their effort the last thing on their mind. But nurturers carry pain, too. Their own burdens, anxieties and hardships often take a back seat to that nurturing impulse. This piece is a meditation on that idea: that some people, not without their own deep personal obstacles, … live out the powerful instinct to hold those around them in a warm embrace of care.”

Program Note by composer

14: Ricky de Medeiros (guitar) 

  • Roma
  • Luz Negra

Roma by Vicente Amigo is a fascinating piece from his album “Tierra”, released in 2013. What’s really special about this album, and particularly the song “Roma,” is that it marked a departure from Amigo’s strictly traditional flamenco roots.

The album came to life with the help of producer Guy Fletcher, known for his work with the British rock band Dire Straits. The album was recorded in London and features a unique mix of flamenco and Celtic sounds.

“Tierra” was well-received for its innovative approach and for its emotional depth. It is  a vivid example of how music can transcend cultural and geographical boundaries.

“Luz Negra” is a fascinating track by Brazilian guitarist Baden Powell who has the ability to blend classical, jazz, and Brazilian music together. Luz Negra is unique because it’s actually a composition by Nelson Cavaquinho, one of the legendary figures in Brazilian samba. Baden Powell’s interpretation is notable for his classical guitar technique, which he seamlessly integrates with the traditional samba rhythm, transforming a classic samba piece into a poignant, almost haunting, instrumental. 

This blending of styles and cultural expressions is a hallmark of Powell’s career, making “Luz Negra” a perfect example of his innovative approach to music.

15: Symphonic Dance No. 3: Fiesta – Clifton Williams

Symphonic Dance No. 3 “Fiesta” is one of five symphonic dances commissioned by the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra to celebrate its 25th anniversary in 1964.

This particular dance reflects the excitement and colour of the Mexican culture that is part of that community. The composer, Clifton Williams, calls this “the pageantry of Latin American celebration – street bands, bull fights, bright costumes, the colorful legacy of a proud people.”  The listener is introduced to the setting with a brass fanfare creating a sense of anticipation, whilst the distant bells, solo trumpet, and woodwinds herald the arrival of an approaching festival. The matador arrives at the bull-ring and the festivities ensue.

16: In Living Colour – Katahj Copley

Katahj Copley wrote In Living Colour as an ode for live music, especially music performed on the wind band stage. When the possibility of live performance was taken away in 2020 due to the global pandemic, the language of music became foreign. Now, as Copley says, a love for music has grown again – through separation, we grew stronger. The piece draws inspiration from modern jazz artists such as Snarky Puppy, American Boy singer Estelle, George Gershwin and includes a nod Four Tops “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)”. In our rendition, we invite all our guest artists to join us in a celebration of music and unity, a kaleidoscope of colour, an aural representation of the Tapestry that lives within us, and around us.