Lead clarinettist and Taree local Mitch Brown speaks to Sarah Dunstan about the group’s success and
upcoming tour of China, after returning from a successful tour of Spain and Portugal in 2018 . The talented musical students from Hunter Wind Ensemble are aged between 11 and 18 and comprise students from the Hunter, Central Coast and Mid North Coast regions.
Hi Mitch! Thanks so much for speaking with FOCUS. You are the first chair and lead clarinettist of this talented music ensemble. Please tell us a little about your own development with music.
Thanks Sarah. I have been playing music all my life. All of my family are working
musicians or music teachers. I started piano at five and clarinet and saxophone later on. I joined Hunter Wind Ensemble four years ago, when my woodwind tutor, Roger Griffiths, suggested I audition. I made it into the
ensemble with two other students from Taree. We now have five Great Lakes members.
I understand the ensemble was created and is led by talented Sydney
Conservatorium trained Scott Ryan over 15 years ago, as a way to encourage the growth of talented musical students from regional areas that perhaps do not have the same accessibility as those in metro
locations. How does being a member enrich your skills and experience as an aspiring musician?
Scott Ryan is an amazing conductor and educator. He is originally from Newcastle and saw a real need for a professional ensemble for regional music students. We have Michael
Jobson and Charissa Ferguson, who are
inspiring. Our patron, Mr Steve Williams (School Spectacular), works with us on special occasions.
Scott pushes us to our limits playing some of the best music for wind ensemble. The scores are difficult, but it’s amazing when it all comes together. Every musician plays their part and produces a very powerful and emotive sound.
We perform at the Sydney Opera House regularly and at the National Band Eisteddfod in Canberra. We practice hard. It’s a great way to develop and expand your musicianship.
The group has also just returned from a regional tour of Central Australia, performing for outback communities and including a dawn service for ANZAC Day. I understand this small town has never had the pleasure of hearing a live concert band play at their ceremonies. How do you think these people responded, and what is it you love most about music?
ANZAC Day was a wonderful day. We performed with the Hunter Singers Choir at a dawn service at Barcaldine, QLD : population 1,300. It was a privilege to play hymns for the ex-servicemen. ANZAC Day is always emotional, but this one was very special. The attendees were very grateful.
I think we as young musicians took away more from the experience. Music is so powerful and emotive. It’s magic.
Hunter Wind Ensemble is also the National Eisteddfod Band Champions, having performed in the US, Japan and Europe. It seems you are unstoppable! Where would you like to travel to and perform and why?
I would really like to visit Germany, France, Poland and Russia. Music culture in European countries is so strong. Our concerts in Spain and Portugal were really well attended, and we received many standing ovations.
Please tell us a little about the upcoming tour of China set for 2020?
We head to China in April 2020 for two weeks. It’s really exciting. It will be the first overseas tour for our Great Lakes members Shaun Carroll, Kyler Johnston, Hamish Cassidy, Jesse Blake and Isabella Ragno, and my
younger brother Riley, who plays percussion in HWE. We will play concerts and conduct workshops in schools and music venues. It’s a massive cultural experience, as well as a musical one.
The group also performs locally to raise funds for your international tours. I know the ensemble will be appearing in Taree on Sunday 11th August and in Tuncurry on Monday 12th August, as well as conducting some school workshops and holding auditions for new members. How can people find out more information about the group and buy tickets to the upcoming concerts?
Our concert at St John’s Anglican Church Taree is always well received, and this year we are also performing at Tuncurry. Follow everything we do on FACEBOOK: HUNTER WIND ENSEMBLE.
Tickets for the concerts are sold at the door or at Bass’n’Blues Music in Taree Ph: 6551 5067. All ticket sales go toward our touring fund. We promise you will enjoy it.