Covid comeback as bold as brass

Bulwer Street Brass in a more compact, slimmed down lineup, but there’s space for the full band’s debut in December.

AFTER their first two launch gigs were Covid-cancelled a new brass ensemble are hoping it’ll be third time lucky for their big debut on December 5.

Bulwer Street Brass member Rob Coleman says the project started when local classical and jazz musicians got together with the aim of performing the music they love but that rarely gets played in Perth. 

Mr Coleman says it’s been “chaotic” trying to start a band amid the turmoil of a global pandemic.

“We set up and were trying to launch this for 2020, and obviously with Covid we were cancelled for our first performance in April.

“We’ve been distracted just trying to survive. Especially freelancers: We got cut pretty bad last year. All of the funding went to major organisations rather than the people who play for them.

“Once all your gigs are gone and your teaching’s cancelled, everyone’s been scrambling to survive.”

After languishing for months, “we landed a Restart the Arts grant and that was fantantic,” and the second attempt at a launch was scheduled for January 31 in the opulent surrounds of the Government House ballroom. 

“It was the first day of the second lockdown in Perth,” Mr Coleman recalls. 

Now, after a long search, they’ve locked in a date for the launch, so no one cough in public until December 5.

“It’s hard to find a venue for 20 brass players, so luckily WAAPA’s helped us out in a big way by offering the Richard Gill Auditorium,” Mr Coleman says.

The ensemble wants to avoid the risk-averse music model of just playing classical pieces from the the same 150 years of music from one part of the world that makes up the majority of western concerts, and wants to move between genres like jazz, classical, renaissance and contemporary.

With all the delays since the idea germinated, the band is no longer based in Bulwer Street, but their former HQ lives on in the name. 

“I lived in a derelict house on Bulwer Street,” Mr Coleman says. “A 1920s two bedroom house, and it was dilapidated to say the least, but incredibly cheap.

“It used to be a bit of a hangout for freelance brass players. It was where this idea was really hatched. People getting drunk and angry and wanting to do something different. That’s where we came up with the name.” 

The December 5 launch features pieces from Byrd, Bach, Kats-Chernin, Ellington, Sculthorpe, and Tomasi, tickets via www.

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