Published on Tuesday, 16 September 2014 19:14
Written by Bruce Gale
Two BBJ quintets and one sextet were examined by officials from the London-based Associated Board of the Royal School of Music (ABRSM) in Medan on Sept 5. The two brass quintets entered in the intermediate category (approximately grades 6-7) and the sextet was examined in the primary category (approximately grades 4-5).
There was a mad scramble on the morning of the exam when band librarian Yunus Marbun realised that he could not find the original copies of the music for the primary group to present to the examiner. Without them, the sextet (which for the first time in BBJ history included a percussionist) could have been disqualified.
Frantic SMS messages between Medan and Singapore followed as I tried to give him suggestions about where to look. Finally, about one hour before the exams were due to begin, Yunus found the music among the documents he had taken back from the Music Camp in late July.
The exams, held at Medan's Aryaduta hotel, were the first ensemble examinations faced by BBJ members since 2009. The groups were nervous as they waited for the exam to begin.
The three groups practiced their pieces during the music camp held at Berastagi (a highland area about four hours journey outside Medan) in late July, where they were taught by myself and a small group of more experienced BBJ members. Special thanks must also go to BBJ tuba player Lasnointer Marbun, who is currently studying music at Yogyakarta's Institut Seni Indonesia. Two weeks before the exam he flew to Medan to help the students with final preparations.
In medan, the examiner was Mr Kevin Bowyer.
And the results? The sextet was awarded the C+, while the two intermediate level Quintets both achieved B+. Congratulations to all!