Benjamin's Big Band is the flagship group within the Garigal Community Performing Arts Society. Audiences are always treated to a highly musical and entertaining performance by this versatile and often humorous group. A slightly larger than usual big band, it consists of flutes, clarinets, saxophones, trumpets, trombones, rhythm section (guitar, piano, bass, drums), and a number of vocalists.
There is also a range of excellent soloists and improvisers within each section ensuring variety throughout their shows. Age varies from 13 to adult and the repertoire requires strong, experienced players who have a good understanding of their instrument and who are proficient at reading difficult level charts. This band guarantees that your feet won't stop, even if you're sitting down.
Gerald Steinmann is well known on the North Shore as an outstanding band leader, musical director and educator with over 20 years experience at hundreds of schools across Australia and internationally. His inspirational technique of rehearsing groups to have them perform at the highest level has proven extremely successful in a number of different fields.
From concert bands to big bands, rock groups, small jazz ensembles, marching bands and vocal groups Gerald brings an infectious enthusiasm to his teams of musicians, which translates into the motivation for polished performances. He also performs regularly with his own group Big Toy!
Chanelle Nicolas is a 16 year old vocalist from Australia. She has been singing with Benjamin’s Big Band for 2 years and has always loved it. Chanelle has been performing on stage since she was 3 years old. She enjoys singing jazz, pop and traditional Bulgarian folk music. She is also a composer of original music.
Chanelle wishes to pursue her career in music and dreams of being a well known singer who brings joy to everyone through her music.
Jessica Atalla joined Benjamin’s Big Band mid 2016 as a vocalist and has enjoyed performing with the band at the Willoughby Spring Fair, Eurofest, Manly Jazz Festival and recently at the 2017 Merimbula Jazz Festival. Jessica has a love of music which she developed in primary school, where she learnt the flute and piano and was an active member of the school band and choir. She enjoys musical theatre and has had many lead roles in both primary and high school musicals including the lead role of Joseph in her primary school's senior musical, Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat and the role of Little Linez in her high school’s production of Hairspray. She has also recently performed in supporting lead roles in her high school's productions of The Sound of Music and Xanadu. Currently in Year 10 at Bridigine College St Ives, Jessica is actively involved in the school’s musical programme. She is an active member of the school choir, Senior Vocal Ensemble and the school’s highly successful A Cappella Group. In the past four years she has performed with the school's choir groups in Melbourne, Gold Coast and New Zealand. Jessica’s passion is singing and loves performing as a vocalist with Benjamin’s Big Band.
Angus Bullough has been working as a professional multi-instrumentalist musician, educator, sound engineer and arranger for the better part of a decade all over the world, and has been with Benjamin's Big Band since it’s inception as an audience member until he joined himself as a musician in 1996, and as a director from 2002. Working predominately in the Jazz genre, specialising in funk, he can also be seen around town playing with rock, covers bands, world music and teaching bands & students in several schools across the northshore or working at Continuumusic Studios. He has worked with well known musicians such as John Morrison, Craig Calhoun, Steve Edmonds, Rex Goh and John Williamson, bringing his wealth of knowledge and experience to share with Benjamin’s Big Band.
Brendan Collins is the composer-in-residence at Barker College and has previously been the composer-in-residence with the Sydney Youth Orchestra and the Associate Principal Trombonist with the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra. His compositions are performed regularly throughout Australia as well as internationally. Brendan’s son Tom was also a featured member of BBB, playing trumpet.
Erin Hendry began with Benjamin's Big Band nearing the end of 2012 as a featured vocalist, and has been singing for close to six years. Her background lies in musical theatre, with Sydney Youth Musical Theatre and when she isn't performing, she works as a microphone technician with Loud and Clear Audio. Recently graduated from Asquith Girls High School, Erin now studies Music Education at Sydney Conservatorium of Music, with principle study in Composition. Erin's passion for performing has lead her to opportunities such as vocal masterclasses, musical theatre workshops, and performing at events such as the Hornsby Music Festival, St Ives Festival on the Green, School Spectacular, and numerous other school and community events.
Lizzie Campbell began with Benjamin's Big Band nearing the end of 2013 as a featured vocalist. Lizzie has been singing since she was a little girl, with the help of professional musician and big brother Nic Campbell (saxophonist in BBB). Singing for her HSC, Valedictory and End of School Assembly in Year 12, this is where she started to undertake singing seriously. With Benjamin's giving her the step in the right direction, Lizzie is now involved in a trio singing contemporary hits around Sydney and keen on furthering her singing aspirations.
Emma Harsanyi has been with Benjamin's Big Band for 4 years and is one of their regularly featured vocalists. She began playing the clarinet in year 3, and began on the baritone saxophone in year 8 at Killara High School. Emma has also performed in Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat with the north shore based company Penny Presents and A Christmas Spectacular with Willoughby Theatre Company. She is currently studying Event Management at the International College of Management in Manly.
Sharmini Thomas joined BBB in 2009 after being discovered at the Sydney Opera House. Since then she has entertained thousands of people around Sydney and Australia as one of BBB's featured vocalists.
Avalon Langdon has only been singing for about 18 months and yet already she is emerging as a new strong young talent. Currently a year 11 student at Pymble Ladies College she is a recent addition to Benjamin’s Big Band, and has already made an impression on a number of large audiences around Sydney, including the Manly Jazz Festival and the Sydney School Spectacular at the Sydney Entertainment Centre this year.
Rehearsals are at the YoYo's Youth Centre, located next to Forestway Shopping Centre, Frenchs Forest. BBB rehearses every Wednesday during school terms from 6:45-8:15pm.
Rehearsal location map