Concert Program New York, New York!




Geoff Grey CSM

geoff greyGeoff Grey is one of Australia’s most prominent, productive and passionate ensemble leaders, with over three decades of professional music production to date.

A direct descendant of the famous London violinist/conductor Wilhelm Cramer and eminent pianist, composer and publisher Johann Baptist Cramer, he won his first piano competition aged six and has since toured nationally and internationally with numerous wind ensembles, orchestras, bands and choirs on cornet, trumpet, clarinet, voice, percussion, blues harmonica, trombone and, of course, baton. For services to music he was awarded the Conspicuous Service Medal (CSM) in the Australian Honours List.

With Geoff as foundation Artistic Director and Chief Conductor, the international standard Canberra Wind Symphony was launched in June 2015


captivating engaging brilliant

The Ensemble 

The Canberra Wind Symphony presents music written for its medium by the finest composers, including highlighting Australian works in showcasing the stunningly thrilling sounds this instrumental combination produces.

The Sound

Is it an orchestra? You can think of the Canberra Wind Symphony as an orchestra without the strings. All instruments in the ensemble are powered by the same medium – air – the optimal tool for creating a stunningly natural and unified sound with infinite possibilities of expression.

The Players 

The players – up to 45 – are passionate, technically stunning and highly motivated musicians who have joined together to play in an exemplary group of similarly experienced national and international performers – choosing to engage and excite audiences with breathtaking music.

 The Performances

Performances are presented in concert venues and boutique art spaces, and include a powerful selection of seminal works from a wide array of impressive 20th and 21st Century composers.  The use of a large brass section means that a Wind Symphony has just as much power and diversity as a string orchestra, and the rich timbres of the woodwinds deliver a highly toneful synergy to both the harmonic and melodic scorings

The Impact 

The introduction of the Canberra Wind Symphony is the most significant impact on the large ensemble landscape in the Capital Region since Ernest Llewellyn took over the reins of the CSO 50 years ago. This level of clarity and musicianship is rare – you’ll just have to experience it!

The Partners 

The Canberra Wind Symphony doesn’t just want or need sponsors. We’re looking to engage with passionate people and organisations that wish to support exceptional performances at the highest international level through partnering. Write to

for a comprehensive information pack of ‘Full Flight’ partnering benefits.

The Audience 

You! We look forward to your company soon.

For more information, please email




Our Partners

The Canberra Wind Symphony doesn’t just want or need sponsors. We’re looking

to engage with passionate people and organisations that wish to support

exceptional performances at the highest international level through partnering.

Significant exposure can be expected through the anticipated annual audience reach

of ten thousand (plus) over six performances spaced evenly over the calendar year.

Limited opportunities currently exist to become a foundation supporter of

outstanding repertoire performed by gifted musicians.

A brief outline of support packages is provided here. All Partners will receive

a special appreciation gift and will be acknowledged in performance literature.

Full details of the very broad and exciting range of Partnering benefits are available on application via, including the stimulating personal interaction opportunities available to Full-Flight Partners


Pay-it-forward Partners

– $50 per gift ticket

Buys a ticket for CWS to donate to Lifeline for distribution to a needy patron

Using music to help restore mind, spirit and relationships to individuals and the community

Player Partners

– $250 per individual annually

Covers the costs of a player’s annual local expenses

Nominations are encouraged for which instrument/player you wish to support*

Music Partners

– $500 per concert work

Assists in defraying the costs of accessing world class Wind Symphony settings

The work will be publically dedicated to the Music Partner when performed

Performance Partners

– $1000 for a performance

This donation reduces the logistic costs associated with staging a performance

This Partner receives public acknowledgement, media references and logo use

Principal Player Partners

– $2000 for a performance

This ensures all players are not ‘out-of pocket’ for their performance costs

Principal Partners can access the significant Full-Flight level benefits

Principal Music Partners

– $5000 for a commissioned World Premiere work

Assists in defraying the costs of commissioning world class Wind Symphony music

The Full-Flight Principal Music Partner’s name will be printed on the work, with worldwide reach

Principal Performance Partners

– $7500 for a performance

This donation covers venue and player costs associated with staging a major performance

This Full-Flight Partner receives exclusive naming rights as Principal Partner for the event

Principal Ensemble Partner

– $Negotiable

This philanthropist would underwrite multiple facets of this outstanding international organisation

This Full-Flight Partner receives exclusive annual naming rights of the Canberra Wind Symphony

*Subject to availability


New York, New York!

Asphalt Cocktail
John Mackey (1975–  )
Ultimately commissioned by Howard J. Gourwitz as a gift to Dr Kevin Sedatole and the Michigan State University Wind Symphony, this five-minute opener is designed to shout ‘We’re here!’ from its opening bar. Brian Denu describes it as ‘Band candy’.
But it was a long time coming. American composer John Mackey was walking down Columbus Avenue with his good friend and fellow composer Jonathan Newman when the topic of titles for pieces came up and Newman said ‘Asphalt Cocktail’. Mackey begged to use the title: ‘I was born to write that!’ but Newman was adamant, ‘No. It’s mine.’
As Mackey tells it, ‘In May 2008, I asked him once again, begging more pathetically than I had before, and his answer this time surprised me: “Fine, but I’ll be needing your first-born child.” This was easily agreeable to me, as I don’t like kids.’
Well, as things do over cocktails (as it happens), Mackey and his wife were talking with Kevin Sedatole about his upcoming performance at the College Band Directors National Association (CBDNA) National Convention. It was decided that Mackey would write a piece to open the concert. Kevin told his friend Howard who generously agreed to fund the commission as a gift to Kevin and the Michigan State University Wind Symphony – and Mackey dedicated it to his mate who came up with the title, Jonathan Newman. Aww… bless.
It was indeed given its world premiere at the CBDNA National Convention in Austin Texas on 28 March 2009.
The wild clarinet solo that starts about a third of the way through has some risk involved – Mackey wrote a blog post that lists a few injuries sustained while performing it, which apparently only makes clarinetists want to play it more. Go figure…
Jerry Junkin and the Dallas Winds, who recorded the first all-Mackey CD, reckon that ‘John Mackey’s music runs the gamut of human emotion, from the sublime to the ridiculous. One minute he offers the sound of ripping metal, then suddenly gives you a melody that’s achingly beautiful. John always writes with a purpose, be it jostling you through the wildest Manhattan cab ride ever, or painting that ethereal hour just before sunset.’
Well, tonight, with ‘biting trombones, blaring trumpets and percussion dominated by cross-rhythms and back beats’, it’s the cab ride through Manhattan: Mackey aims to capture the grit and aggression that he associates with the time he lived in New York. As he says, ‘Picture the scariest NYC taxi ride you can imagine, with the cab skidding around turns as trucks bear down from all sides…’
West Side Story Symphonic Dances
Leonard Bernstein (1918–1990)
transcribed for band by Paul Lavender
Bernstein was the quintessential New York pianist, conductor and composer. Though he had been born in Massachusetts, most of his life was spent in the dynamic city. His compositions triumphed on Broadway – On the Town (1944), Wonderful Town (1952), Candide (1956). His compositions for the concert hall were more controversial but included symphonies, ballets, Chichester Psalms and his exultant Mass. He also wrote the Hollywood score for On the Waterfront.
A friend had predicted it all in 1941 when they commented on his outstanding talent (at 23 years old) that, ‘Lenny is doomed to success.’
Perhaps his most famous work is West Side Story from 1957 (the same year he became conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, the first American-born conductor to hold the post).
West Side Story was a new musical take on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, set in the gangland of the New York streets – with the Jets and the Sharks, street gangs of different ethnic backgrounds, respectively white and Puerto Rican, taking the place of the feuding families. Great choreography from Jerome Robbins, witty lyrics from a precocious newcomer called Stephen Sondheim (whatever happened to him…?) and one of the most exciting musical scores from Bernstein have forged one of the world’s favourite music theatre works. It went on to become a beloved film in 1961 with Natalie Wood and Rita Moreno as the female leads – and won 10 of the 11 Oscars it was nominated for (including Best Picture)!
Tonight’s West Side Story Symphonic Dances is a faithful arrangement by Paul Lavender for wind symphony from the spectacular concert work Bernstein arranged and recorded with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in 1961 (the year the movie was released – this dude knew how to market his schtick!). It features a Prologue, ‘Somewhere’, a Scherzo, Mambo, Cha-Cha, the Meeting Scene, the ‘Cool’ Fugue, the Rumble and a Finale.
Paul wrote his arrangement in 2007 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the musical. He is the Vice President of Instrumental Publications for music publisher Hal Leonard Corporation (and therefore a hero to most musicians!). He has had an extensive professional relationship with film composer John Williams (of Star Wars fame) but is no slouch himself, having contributed more than 1,200 arrangements and compositions to the educational and concert repertoire! He has received international acclaim for two of his most notable transcriptions: Mussorgsky and Ravel’s Pictures at an Exhibition – and Bernstein’s Symphonic Dances from West Side Story.
Symphony No. 2 ‘The Big Apple: A New York Symphony’
Johan de Meij (1953–  )
Featuring graphic artist Geoff Filmer from Graffik Paint
Johan de Meij was born in the Netherlands and is a Dutch conductor, multi-instrumentalist and composer. His first symphony from 1988 was dubbed The Lord of the Rings symphony and, in 1989, won first prize against 143 entries in the Sudler International Band Composition Competition in Chicago, and has become perhaps his best-known work. He has written four symphonies for wind symphony.
However, his second symphony that you will hear tonight, named The Big Apple: A New York Symphony, was premiered by the United States Air Force Band in Washington DC in 1993, and is fast becoming popular (partly due to a fantastic performance on YouTube by the New York Wind Symphony recorded last year with de Meij conducting). He now lives in the USA between two homes (one in Manhattan).
Before devoting his time exclusively to conducting and composing, Johan had a successful professional career as a trombone, flute and euphonium player, performing with major orchestras and ensembles in the Netherlands. So it is not surprising that he has written concertos for both the trombone (T Bone Concerto) and the euphonium (UFO Concerto). (He’s got quite a talent for naming his works too, hasn’t he?)
He is principal guest conductor of both the New York Wind Symphony and the Kyushu Wind Orchestra in Fukuoka, Japan. He established his own publishing company Amstel Music in 1989.
Tonight’s dynamic and sparkling work has three movements: Skyline, Interlude in Times Square, and Gotham. It also uses a recorded backing track of New York soundscape to enhance your experience of ‘being there’ – so it’s not necessarily the freezing winds of Canberra’s winter you hear howling around you…
New York, New York
John Kander and Fred Ebb
‘Start spreadin’ the news…’ It was 1977… and the film was New York, New York… and the song was ‘New York, New York’… and the singer was Liza Minelli. The song was to become perhaps even more famous – if that’s even possible! – in the version recorded by Frank Sinatra in 1979. Join us, cos if we can make it there, we can make it anywhere…

Click to join our mailing list



Sarah Nielsen (Concert Master) Sponsored by Kim Tankard

Sarah Hewat

Lorinda Bond


Tim Artelaris

Richard Mason

Tony Barker

Paul Crouch

Mami Iwashita

Molly Campbell Sponsored by David Cox

 Stephen Hally-Burton (Sopranino)

Neille Williamson (Alto) Sponsored Anonymously

Caroline Christenson (Bass)


David Whitbread


Marijke Welvaert

Woody Wang

Adam Matthews


Michael McGillion

Luke Midena

Dianne Tan

Iain Hercus


Greg Stenning

Mike Purcell

Paul Cottier

Claire Leske

Alex Ross


Matt Ricketts Sponsored by Rob Crowdy

Neal Morris


Phil White


Gabby Mears

Tony Sillcock


Jenna Hinton

Andrew Brown

Chris Jennaway

Brandon Reed

Alicia Perritt


Liz Charlton


Emily Leong