The City of Greater Dandenong Band has once again travelled interstate to compete at the Mount Gambier Brass Band Festival on the weekend of the 15th of November. The band is extremely happy with their overall performance, placing third in the B Grade Music Contest, winning the Street March and our own Musical Director/Drum Major (Michael Mathers) being awarded the Best Drum Major. The band also collected the highest award of the weekend, the much sought after title of Band of the Year!
The Dandenong Band took to the streets of Mount Gambier early on Saturday morning for the adjudicated Street March, performing Victorian Rifles to an enthusiastic crowd of spectators and the other competing bands as well as the numerous adjudicators. The massed band’s march followed, lead by reigning National Champion Drum Major (our own Michael Mathers), with a rendition of Waltzing Matilda. The band then gathered at the top end of town hastily changing into the band’s Christmas costume for 2014; this year the band members were dressed as spectacular marching snowflakes!
Marching down the main strip of Mt Gambier these snowflakes eagerly partook in the WIN TV Christmas Parade and were very well received by the thousands of excited onlookers that came to help celebrate in the festivities.
This is the third time in four years under the direction of Michael Mathers that the band has competed at Mount Gambier and it has become a focal point for the band to round out it’s year. "I just love this 'contest'. It's fun, it's relaxed and it’s very social. We talk to the other bands, we help the other bands and they help us. It's a friendly competition with a nice balance of seriousness and fun... the way I think all banding should be," Michael said. "If every contest was this much fun we'd be tripping over each other to get there. I particularly love the relationships it helps us build with our fellow bands and their members. Ultimately, we are all one big brass band family and getting together on these kind of weekends re-affirms that in my mind."
Later in the afternoon, the band got down to more serious business at the Sir Robert Helpmann Theatre as they took to the stage for the main contest. The first piece performed was the beautiful hymn, Nicea (Holy, Holy, Holy) which saw the band off to a good start. The band then attempted the challenging yet heart-warming test piece, Aotearoa (Land of the Long White Cloud) by Philip Sparke. A former A Grade test piece the music was certainly challenging for the band and forced them to work hard on numerous aspects of top quality brass band playing. The third piece performed was the march Ravenswood. Unfortunately this performance was not as well received by the adjudicator as the two previous pieces and this was reflected in the scoring. Hoping for rectification the band then performed their entertainment piece, Mr Sandman, and entertaining it was! Featuring Tim Hellyer, Paul Simmonds, Damien Lord and Maddi Mathers, as honourary percussionists, the audience was sure in for a treat. Although not going quite as planned, the band had a lot of fun performing this piece on stage and the audience were left laughing and very appreciative of their efforts. The adjudication by Mr. Mark Ford gave the band a total of 220 points out of a possible 300, placing the City of Greater Dandenong Band in third position within the B Grade Section.
Celebrations followed (at the House of Schnitz) and ensued well into the night, leaving us all with fond memories of a great weekend and one in which we look forward to participating in again!
The band would like to thank all of the committee for its hard work in getting us to the festival and in costume creation, as well as the numerous supporters for all their hard work and time helping the band with this competition. A special thanks to Nicole Mathers and Ben Gebert for organising the Christmas parade costumes and to all of the supporters who came along to cheer on the band. Also a huge thank you to Tim Hellyer, Michael Mathers, Nicole Mathers and Catherine Hillman for their extra efforts in ensuring the trip and the competition ran as smoothly and successfully as possible. Additionally to every member in the band, without all of their hard work, effort, commitment and enthusiasm we couldn’t have had such an enjoyable weekend! Overall, Mount Gambier 2014 was a fantastic trip with a solid and entertaining performance, a positive result and some quality time to bond as a band. This will surely go a long way in helping the band to prepare for the Nationals in Sydney during the Easter weekend next year.