Bay of Plenty Music School 2016

© BoP Music School - C Watson NZCBA Secretary Kathleen Mulligan conducting the concert band.
NZCBA Secretary Kathleen Mulligan conducting the concert band.
© BoP Music School – C Watson

What has 268 legs, strings, valves, and some impressive sets of lungs? The annual Bay of Plenty Music School.

Started in 1966 as an orchestral music school, the BoP Music School has grown to now include an orchestra, a concert band, and a choir. This year’s school was held in Whakatane, on the 22-24th of April, and concert band participants came from as far afield as New Plymouth, Matapouri, and Kerikeri.

The organising committee is conscious of keeping the weekend as affordable and accessible as possible. Putting on an event of this size is a massive financial undertaking, and they are always looking for sponsorship or funding. You can contribute towards the general operating costs, or you can sponsor a player who might not be able to otherwise attend. Any contributions are very gratefully received. Please contact if you can help!

© BoP Music School - C Watson The concert band during rehearsal.
Some of the concert band during rehearsal.
© BoP Music School – C Watson

The very reasonable fee includes morning and afternoon teas, suppers and lunches, and the communal meals allow plenty of time for mingling with people from all parts of the school. I particularly enjoyed catching up with musicians from around the country who I only see at music schools and at festival. That networking is a valuable part of the weekend, and it is nice to affirm the links between different bands.

The concert band had the pleasure of being conducted by NZCBA’s own Kathleen Mulligan, and had around 40 players. This number varied through rehearsals, as some players enjoyed the experience of also working with a full orchestra. We worked on a variety of pieces, from the folksy “American Riversongs”, to the technical “Joan of Arc”, to the stirring “Rhythm Danse”. My personal favourite was “Flourish for Wind Band”, a dignified fanfare with some beautiful harmonies. Kathleen was in fine form as always, with her dedicated focus on musicianship, and her expressive conducting.

Some of the six (six!) horns.© BoP Music School - C Watson
A few of the SIX horns.
© BoP Music School – C Watson

A highlight of the weekend was the Saturday night “fun concert”. Groups put together impromptu performances with people they may have never met before. This year the selection included a variety of Irish songs, Rossini’s “Duetto buffo di due gatti” (sung entirely in “meow”s), a jazz group, a brass quintet, and a horn sextet. Performing with limited rehearsal time is a great challenge to your musicianship! The crowd is very welcoming and forgiving of any mistakes, so it is a great way for those who are nervous about performing to give it a try.

The final concert featured pieces by the concert band, the orchestra, and the choir, as well as combined pieces. All 134 musicians came together at the end for a rousing rendition of Handel’s “Zadok the Priest”.

I thoroughly recommend the Bay of Plenty Music School for those musicians looking for a fun event that will push them musically. The 2017 event will also be held in Whakatane, from Friday 21 April to Sunday 23 April. Keep an eye on for further details.