It’s not often a school music group gets to perform their very own score written by a professional composer - but student musicians at Matthew Flinders Anglican College on the Sunshine Coast proudly have!
The College commissioned a new music piece, titled Rapture, for its elite Wind Symphony ensemble, an invitational ensemble of more than 60 top student musicians, playing across woodwind, brass and percussion instruments.
The ensemble proudly premiered Rapture at the College’s 2022 Sounds of Summer concert in the Flinders Performance Centre on Saturday, 22 October. See the performance in the video below.
The commissioning was the idea of College music teacher, Mr John Thomas, who has been expertly guiding and inspiring Flinders students through music for more than 29 years and is the Wind Symphony’s conductor.
The Flinders Friends of Music volunteer group provided the support to make the composition idea into a reality. And the Fitzpatricks, an Old Flinderian family, kindly donated a significant amount to enable the commissioning.
Rapture Score Created by Composer Brian Balmages
To create the piece, John approached the Wind Symphony ensemble’s favourite composer – award-winning American composer and conductor Brian Balmages, who equally spans the worlds of orchestral, band and chamber music.
Brian completed the project over 18 months, rising above the challenges caused by the pandemic.
John provided Brian with a hymn tune to form the basis of the composition and with the design brief to “reflect life at the College”.
In collaboration, Rapture was brought to life, with moments of pure joy, energy, excitement, anticipation, euphoria, reflection and peace threaded throughout.
Brian said, “It was a pleasure and personal triumph to compose Rapture.
“I hope all ensembles feel the immense fulfilment and gratitude that I experienced as I was writing the music.”
To hear from Brian about his approach to composing the piece, and view Rapture's premiere by the Wind Symphony, see the video below.
Sounds of Summer 2022 Concert at Flinders
At the Sounds of Summer concert, the Friends of Music (FoM) President Kerrie Miles presented John with a framed piece of the Rapture score.
Kerrie said, “JT (John Thomas) and, of course, wife Jenny Thomas (a fellow music teacher at the College) have dedicated most of their life to music and the past 29 years to students at Flinders.
“The friendship and mutual respect between JT and the students are demonstrated each day,” she said.
“It’s also evident at the Sounds of Summer performances each year when past students are invited to return, bringing their stories, reminiscing and once again enjoying the camaraderie that is the ‘Flinders Music Family’.”
It was fitting that Rapture premiered at Sounds of Summer as the annual concert is an evening-long celebration of the College's musical talent and one of the most popular events on the music calendar.
The 2022 concert brought together the College’s Wind Symphony ensemble conducted by Mr John Thomas and featured a trombone quartet and a saxophone duet.
It was also a special experience for the 24 graduating students in the ensemble, marking their final performance in the ensemble before departing the College as the Class of 2022.
And – as is tradition for the concert finale – 32 past students from the Old Flinderians’ Association returned to the stage to perform as a tribute to the long-lasting connections and friendships forged in the Flinders music program.
Friends of Music Volunteers and Donations
The Fitzpatrick family’s donation and support for the commission recognises their appreciation for the music opportunities their six children embraced while at Flinders over 24 years of education, from 1996 to 2019.
Mother Natalia Fitzpatrick joined the Friends of Music in 2007 and contributed on the committee over 13 years (including nine years as President), working with the staff, students and fabulous families as FoM volunteers.
Friends of Music aims to support music across the College and works to assist in providing support in any way possible.
About Brian Balmages
As a composer and conductor, Brian Balmages’ music has been performed by groups ranging from professional symphony orchestras to elementary schools in venues such as Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Centre, Sydney Opera House, Toronto Centre for the Arts, and many more.
He is a recipient of the A. Austin Harding Award from the American School Band Directors Association, won the 2020 NBA William D. Revelli Composition Contest with his work Love and Light, and was awarded the inaugural James Madison University Distinguished Alumni Award from the School of Visual and Performing Arts.
Cover photo (L-R): College Music Captain Kairyo Searle, Flinders Music Teacher Mr John Thomas and College Music Captain Maddy Archer, with a gifted framed music score of the Rapture commission