Jazz musicians join The Promise at Easterfest

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Toowoomba, Queensland

An Avondale vocal ensemble’s return appearance at the largest Christian music festival in Australia has featured two of the country’s leading jazz musicians.

I never expected such a high standard of musicianship from students of that age. It really is remarkable.

Avondale Jazz Ensemble director David Pudney and multi-instrumentalist Adrian Cunningham joined The Promise for its five Easterfest performances in Toowoomba over the holiday weekend. The highlight: a performance at St Luke’s Anglican Church as part of the festival’s Gospel in the Chapel program on Saturday.

The resonance from the 1850’s stone and high ceiling created an optimal ambiance for the 400 or so members of the audience. They gave The Promise a warm reception, with a notable number following the ensemble since its Easterfest debut this past year. Some were moved to tears, particularly during the poignant biblical story of Absalom in “When David Heard,” a song from The Promise’s Give Thanks album.

“It’s such a compelling and moving piece,” says Adrian, who had not head the ensemble sing it before. “The experience will stay with me for a long time.”

A delay in his planned return to New York City freed Adrian to perform again with The Promise—he performed at two of the ensemble’s three album launches in March. During the songs in which he did not feature as a soloist, Adrian would sit with his eyes closed. “I never expected such a high standard of musicianship from students of that age,” he says. “It really is remarkable.”