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The Southland Time - 9 November 2009

Band delivers fitting tribute to famous march

Alex Lithgow was a prolific composer whose works include the much celebrated Invercargill March, which was the piece celebrated by a brass band concert in Invercargill on Saturday afternoon.  It was almost 100 years to the day since the Invercargill Garrison Band, as it was, first played the piece in an Australasian bands competition in the city.  While Lithgow had written the march in 1900, he dedicated it to the city of his boyhood when his brother Tom asked for a test piece for the competition.

The 2009 band previewed the concert by marching through the city and then opened the performance with the march.

The main band and its auxiliary (training) band highlighted many of Lithgow's compositions throughout the afternoon, but also showed their versatility with some well-chosen pieces such as the jazzy Ain't Misbehavin and Singing in the Rain, some testing modern pieces from a suite by Philip Sparke and an arrangement by young band member Connor Ellison of John Rutter's beautiful Gaelic Blessing.

Ellison (euphonium) and Katie Taylor (cornet) also played solo pieces to showcase the young talent in the ranks - both impressive performances.  The two bands, directed so well by John McKinley and Kevin Dell respectively, continue to supply players for national school, youth and senior touring bands.  The standard is astonishingly high for a regional centre.

It is a shame the band opted for an afternoon concert.  A later show might have helped bring in the bigger audience it deserved.  But at least it marked the man and his march that has given this city some recognition, as least in the world of brass bands.

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