Tom Hill Picks Up The Baton [Dec 2009]

A warm glow enveloped the Waitakere Band Hall as old faces made new friends under the baton of guest conductor for the night, Tom Hill. Tom conducted the band from 1969 to 1983 . On a fleeting visit to New Zealand to celebrate his 76th birthday with his son Fendall, the Waitakere soprano cornet player, Tom took up the baton once more. In between the notes he invoked memories of players and performances past with stories that brought forth laughter, and thoughtful smiles for much missed friends.

Spirit of the Living God (Gullidge) matched the depth and soul of a man who has enjoyed a lifetime of music interwoven with his pastoral vocation. Variations on a Ninth (Vinter) showed Tom’s more mischievous side as players faced this challenging classic.

The moment of the evening came in New Lynn March (Hill), a piece Tom composed for the band. After hearing Fendall’s impressive soprano cornet obligato, Tom stopped the band. “I don’t remember writing that,” he stated emphatically. Fendall held his breath – the obligato was his addition to the piece. Tom smiled, “well play it like you mean it then!” As Tom closed the practice with a prayer every heart lifted. It was as banding should be, music shared by family and friends.

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