On Friday 5 May, 8.30am, three busloads of Saint’s boys armed with trombones, trumpets, double basses, guitars, saxophones, bucket mutes and percussion mallets set off towards Mount Gambier to embark on an adventure that they will never forget. 56 big band musicians from Saint’s Big bands 1, 2 and 3 with ages ranging from year 7 through to year 12 were all very excited to perform at 2017 Generations in Jazz (GIJ) Stage Band Awards, and hopeful to perform to their very best of ability with aspirations of bringing home and award.

Some of the world’s most high-profile jazz musicians have shared the limelight with the 68-piece Adelaide Symphony Orchestra (ASO) in one of the most spectacular outdoor jazz weekends Australia has staged. 

Saturday night’s sellout Generations in Jazz Gala Concert featured US jazz sensations Wycliffe Gordon and Gordon Goodwin, Romanian-born jazz pianist Marian Petrescu, New York rising star vocalist Jazzmeia Horn and a host of Australian music icons including the legendary James Morrison. 

The 6000-strong audience was seated inside the largest big top tent that South Australia has ever seen, with the gigantic 90m x 45-metre structure located in a paddock on the outskirts of Mount Gambier.

Guest vocalist Darren Percival performed at all four public concerts at GIJ. “The atmosphere inside the tent was electric – we lifted the roof off,” he said. 

ASO conductor Ben Northey, described the experience as “unbelievable”, “it was an unforgettable night, and it was a very inspiring thing to be a part of. We’re all musicians and we all speak a common language and being able to share it with so many young people is what makes it so special,” he said.

A school band competition lies at the heart of GIJ, with 4700 student musicians from around Australia performing more than 800 musical pieces throughout the weekend. 

The number of schools participating in 2017 has smashed all previous records; 305 stage bands and vocal ensembles representing 125 schools (48 from South Australia) were bussed into Mount Gambier from every state and territory.

“Every year it just gets better and better, and this year was just incredible,” declared James Morrison, who is also the GIJ chairman and artistic director.

St Peter’s College proudly claimed second prize in the division two section one category and were pipped at the post by Melbourne’s Wesley College Glen Waverly campus who came first. “Our boys played extremely well and to an excellent standard for high school students”. They performed a selection of three Jazz tunes, ‘Flight of The Foo Birds’ by Neal Hefti, a beautiful ballad “Breathing’ composed by Fred Sturm and finally ‘Song for Tuck’ composed by Graeme Lyall specifically for this competition. The judge for this division Angela Davies commented on the boy’s overall performance and said “Incredible playing, mature beyond their years”. Saints Big Band 2 and 3 represented our school proudly, especially being the first time we have taken our Big Band 3 to this event. We are elated to have our trumpet section leader, Chris Burton selected to play in the GIJ division 2 Super Band at the closing performance. His commitment to the band and his own musical development has been outstanding as he is such an excellent role model for all Saints boys.

The St Peter’s College Big Band 2 boys are Henry A, Rohan B, Tom B-S, Chris B, Fred B, Albert C, Ben H, Tristan H, Robert J, Josh L, Indran M, Chris N, Thomas P, David Q, Max S, Will V, Eton W, James E. Directed by myself.

The St Peter’s College music department would like to thank all our music and admin staff and students, their instrumental teachers and families for making this such a rewarding experience for all our boys.

Philip Walsh
Director of Music