Arts / Boys in the band plan a big night

IT’S been a bumper year for Canberra conductor, percussionist and “CityNews” music critic Ian McLean, with “Mary Poppins” and “Jesus Christ Superstar” behind him.

The same is true for Geoff Grey, who took over the reins of the new Canberra Wind Symphony this year while also directing Canberra City Band.

Ian McLean.

Ian McLean… drumming.

Not bad for two boys who cut their teeth playing in military college bands, each going on to become commander and director of the Royal Military College Band and then assuming leadership roles in the wider world of music.

Now these two busy musicians have joined forces to stage a rip-snorting New Year’s Eve party at the Albert Hall, designed to take us back to the great days of social dancing.

While both McLean and Grey would prefer to have a full pops orchestra on stage at the elegant Albert Hall, reality set in when they realised the venerable Albert’s stage was too small and opted for an 18-piece “salon orchestra”.

Grey will put down his baton to take on the role of MC for the night as will McLean, who was having far too much fun drumming that he gratefully handed over to one of the region’s top string players, Tor Frømyhr, who will lead from the violin just in the manner of Johann Strauss, King of the Waltz.

The evening has been conceived as a masquerade-style dance aimed at pleasure and frivolity, from the moment Robbie Mann sits down to play the grand piano to when the musicians swing into the waltzes and polkas, classic pops music and Viennese waltzes for which they have been chosen.

Geoff Grey... conductor turned MC.

Geoff Grey… conductor turned MC.

The musical duo say they have also arranged the music so people will be easily able to converse at the same time as listen.

There’ll be a break at 9pm so guests can enjoy the fireworks from the North Terrace and at midnight, while the band plays “Auld Lang Syne”. “How to dance” cards have been produced and the expectation is that the joint will be jumping – in the most elegant fashion.

Canberra Salon Orchestra New Year’s Eve dinner-dance, Albert Hall, December 31, bookings to


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