The City of Greater Dandenong Band marked the 50th anniversary of the 1969 moon landing in style with our space themed cabaret held on 20 July 2019. Performing to an audience of almost 300 people in Springvale City Hall, the evening was certainly one to remember. Featuring special guests including the Voices of Casey Choir, vocalist Danielle Matthews, and a world premiere performance of a Jared McCunnie work performed on euphonium by Fletcher Mitchell, the band took us from the Earth, to the Stars, and beyond!
The evening was ignited with a rendition of Strauss’s fanfare Also Sprach Zarathustra Sonnenaufgang (Sunrise), made famous for its use in Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, before transitioning into the energetic and exhilarating Starburst by Dan Price.
Throughout the evening the Band was joined by Australian singer, musical theatre, and cabaret artist Danielle Matthews. Danielle inspired the audience to Imagine (John Lennon) all the people sharing all the world, and that From a Distance (Bette Midler) the world looks blue and green, before lifting us to new heights with a stunning performance of Kate Miller-Heidke’s Zero Gravity.
Once again, Band members Maddi Vargo Mathers (cornet) and Cassi de Lacy-Vawdon (flugel horn) showcased their talents beyond brass instruments. Maddi took the audience on a lunar experience with beautiful renditions of Jazz standards How High the Moon and Fly me to the Moon. Later in the evening, Cassi was joined by her sister Bronte de Lacy-Vawdon for a haunting rendition of David Bowie’s Life on Mars before performing Van Morrison’s Moondance as a big band arrangement with the Band.
Also featured within the Band was Rachael Shinetone in a stirring performance of Stars from Les Misérables featuring solo trombone. Having joined the Band only this year, Rachael has embraced her role as principle trombonist, more than doing justice to the song usually performed by a lamenting Javert in stage performances of Les Misérables. Paying homage to the late, great Freddy Mercury and the surviving members of Queen, The Band performed a song about humankind’s inability to live harmoniously. The epic, Innuendo, featured the solo cornet section, and particularly Band president, Timothy Hellyer, and Damien Lord.
The Voices of Casey Choir delighted audiences in their debut appearance at a City of Greater Dandenong Band concert. Performing the Irving Berlin classic Blue Skies, as well as other classics including Fire and Rain and Catch a Falling Star, before being joined by Danielle Matthews for 1966 R&B/soul rock song Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. Joining the Choir and Danielle on piano was accompanist Jodie Lockyer.
One of the standout moments of the evening was the world premiere of Freefall, composed by local Melbourne composer Jared McCunnie. Jointly commissioned by Fletcher Mitchell and the City of Greater Dandenong Band, Freefall is inspired by Red Bull Stratos, the 2012 project that saw Felix Baumgartner break the world record for the highest freefall jump from the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere. Freefall sees the euphonium soloist take the role of Felix, whilst the musical accompaniment represents the people on Earth. Featuring Fletcher Mitchell, Yamaha Performing Artist and Clinician based in Brisbane, on euphonium, Freefall is a musical marvel, demonstrating the superb capacity of instrument and performer alike.
But of course, no space themed Cabaret would be complete without the likes of the march Mercury, Peter Graham’s Drums of Thunder from the Windows of the World suite, or the themes from space enterprises such as March of the Resistance from Star Wars, the Thunderbirds theme, or the main theme from Star Trek – The Next Generation. Finally, the Cabaret was rounded out with a massed performance of Elton John’s Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.
One Small Step for Band was brought to you by the City of Greater Dandenong Band under the expert direction of Musical Director Jamie Lawson. Joining us for the evening, and tying everything together, was Phillipa Edwards as compere. Working behind the scenes were innumerable people for whom we are incredibly grateful. These people include (but certainly are not limited to) Cathy Bardi, Jonathan de Lacy, Cassi de Lacy-Vawdon, Phillipa Edwards, Benjamin Gebert, Stephanie Gilfedder, Timothy Hellyer, Catherine Hillman, Matt Hillman, Sharryn Lydall-Smith, Jamie Lawson, Todd O'Shea, Trudy O'Shea, Natalie Potenzi, Cameron Sanders, Rachael Shineton, Abby Smith, Em Smith, Sharon Tacey, David Taylor, and Rachelle Thom.
We would also like to say a very big thank you to out raffle sponsors for their very generous donations this year, including Australian Venue Co., Bright Chalet, Hepburn Bathhouse & Spa, HP Gaming, The Oracle Owl, Yarra Valley Lodge, and Woodfire Pizzeria & Cucina.
Most of all, though, the Band would like to thank the audience for their ongoing support. We look forward to seeing you all again next year for another spectacular night!
Article by Cassi de Lacy-Vawdon
Photography by Benjamin Gebert