Instrumental Music News

Spotlight on Chamber Winds

Chamber Winds is one of the intermediate concert bands at Brisbane Girls Grammar School, with students in this ensemble ranging from Years 7 to 11. The ensemble is currently rehearsing its repertoire for the Term 2 Movie Concert. Chamber Winds are exploring music from the 2004 musical movie, The Phantom of the Opera, and a medley by film composer, Danny Elfman, titled, Music in the Dark. They are looking forward to performing this exciting program soon!

International Women’s Day Concert

Our International Women’s Day Concert will be held in the beautiful new Talbot Theatre in the Thomas Dixon Centre, West End tonight. Our senior ensembles will be presenting a diverse range of repertoire, revealing the individual stories of women of the past and present, including some of our student composition winners of 2022.

Since its inception in 2018, Brisbane Girls Grammar School’s International Women’s Day Concert has performed the compositions of 51 female composers. It has had 21 world premieres—14 of them by our very own students and 8 of them have been very proudly commissioned by the School.

We are excited to welcome Australian female composers, Catherine Likhuta, Sally Greenaway, and Alumna, Merinda Dias-Jayasinha (2014), who will be in attendance to hear their compositions, with a special performance by Merinda with the Big Band.

The curated program honours International Women’s Day by celebrating the achievements of women in the musical arts and includes the premiere of three original student compositions.

To purchase tickets please follow this link.


Senior String Festival

This year, BGGS and BGS are collaborating on the 27th Annual String Fest. This long-established festival provides a unique opportunity for advanced string students from Queensland to play significant works from the string orchestra repertoire, to work with outstanding string pedagogues and players, and perhaps most importantly, to foster new friendships with other young string players. Noted participants of past String Festivals include world-renowned concert violinist, Ray Chen, and Concertmaster of the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and leader of the Australian String Quartet, Dale Barltrop.

This year, the Festival Orchestra will be playing the emotionally charged Adagietto from Gustav Mahler’s Symphony no. 5 which is featured in Visconti’s classic multi-award-winning film, Death in Venice. The program is complemented by the first movement of Franz Schubert’s heart-wrenching and visceral Death and the Maiden string quartet, written in 1824 which was arranged by Mahler for string orchestra in 1896.

Girls from Chamber Strings and Mendelssohn Strings will be working hard over the next week to master this challenging repertoire while having fun collaborating with students from other schools.

Strings Fest Concert: Wednesday 8 March, 6.30 pm, Great Hall, BGS.

Adult $15, Concession $10.

Booking limit of two tickets (due to limited seating available in the venue).


Intermediate String Workshop

Copland, Bartok, and Albinoni are the ‘middle child’ of our string orchestra progression. As such, we want to celebrate them and give them fantastic and memorable learning opportunities.

At this year’s Intermediate String Workshop, students will enjoy working with past student and legend of the Australian music scene, Jo Davie. Jo played violin at BGGS and is now in demand nationally and internationally as a singer, especially in the gypsy jazz and folk music genres. She and fellow band member, Gareth Mewes, will be introducing our students to new repertoire, and new skills specific to folk and jazz idioms.

Intermediate String Workshop: Saturday 11 March, 9 am to 3 pm, CLC Level 1, BGGS.

The concluding concert is at 2.30 pm.

Amelia Howell-Smith—the full spectrum

In a unique twist, Year 10 student, Amelia Howell-Smith (10L), has found herself learning the biggest and the smallest instrument here at Brisbane Girls Grammar School.

Amelia plays double bass in Mendelssohn Strings, Gypsy Band, and Symphony Orchestra, as well as flute in Symphonic Winds. Physically it’s a quirky combination and Amelia has had to master two notation languages—bass clef and treble clef—which is a testament to her discipline and learning skills.

While Amelia commenced flute studies at Newmarket State School in Year 4, she has only been playing the double bass for two years—a remarkable achievement! She was attracted to the sound of the instrument during a demonstration in classroom music. Amelia enjoys a wide variety of musical styles—classical styles for flute and ‘groovy styles’ on the double bass.

If Amelia was marooned on a desert Island and only able to have one instrument with her, she says she would have the double bass, because there’s a good chance she could shelter inside it. A wise choice!

Bravo Amelia for your contribution to BGGS Instrumental Music!

Amelia Howell-Smith (10L)

Celtic Ensemble and Gypsy Band Tour to The National Folk Festival

It is with great pride and excitement that we announce our World Music Ensembles Tour for Gypsy Band and Celtic Ensemble to play at the National Folk Festival in Canberra.

The National Folk Festival started life as a district folk music festival in 1967. A relatively modest offering held over two days with an Official Opening on the Friday evening.​

Over the years, the festival has continued to evolve and reshape itself and 2023 will be no exception. While the National Folk Festival adapts to the current challenges, it will always remain true to its beginnings, and be a meeting place for the exchange of songs, styles, and ideas. ​

We have been lucky to secure a total of six performances over the festival. In the table below you may notice that there will be two separate performances for each group and then two combined performances (Celtic Ensemble followed by Gypsy Band) called the Brisbane Girls—which is a fun take on the Australian folk song ‘the Brisbane Ladies’.

Celtic Concert CE Kids Festival Friday 7 Apr 2023 1 pm to 1.30 pm
Brisbane Grammar Gypsy GB Bohemia Stage Friday 7 Apr 2023 5.30 pm to 6 pm
Brisbane Grammar Celtic CE Trocadero Saturday 8 Apr 2023 10 am to 10.30 am
Gypsy Music Concert GB Kids Festival Saturday 8 Apr 2023 12 pm to 12.35 pm
The Brisbane Girls CE and GB Bohemia Stage Saturday 8 Apr 2023 5 pm to 6 pm
The Brisbane Girls CE and GB Scrumpy Sunday 9 Apr 2023 11:20 am to 12:20 pm

We can’t wait to participate in Australia’s longest-running national festival!