he City of Greater Dandenong Band has once again travelled interstate to represent the City of Greater Dandenong at the 2014 Australian National Band Championships in Brisbane over the Easter weekend.
Competing in its fifth consecutive National Championships (one of only two Victorian bands to do so) the band had a fantastic weekend and performed to a very high standard impressing both the listening audience at the venue and those watching the live stream back home and beyond.
Although not placing at the top end of the highly contested field, the band performed admirably with what can best be described as an ‘undermanned’ team.
With at least eight of its regular players unable to attend, the band resisted the opportunity to stack the playing group and instead took its own band, supplemented only by a few fill ins, accepting the limitations of having missing players.
Musical Director Michael Mathers was extremely pleased with the bands energy and effort and can see the obvious growth in the playing group. “Although we didn’t have our full team on the park, I was extremely proud of the performances and can see definite improvement from the band. Playing this kind of (challenging) music over the last few years has had definite rewards for the whole playing group both musically and socially,” Michael said.
In addition to the onstage contest, this year taken out by Townsville Brass (QLD), the band once again impressed the crowd with its marching endeavours and again entertained the watching public with an inventive and amusing change of direction. “The band has come to accept my wacky ideas for turning corners now…” Michael said “… and doesn’t even bat an eyelid when I suggest them now.”
Described by one viewer as ‘innovative’ the band this year chose to turn right by forming an outrigger canoe and paddling their way around the corner while playing the Hawaii Five-O theme. As well as the four paddlers (three trombones and a Drum Major), the crowd was surprised even further when a few of them got wet (including the adjudicator) courtesy of four strategically placed water pistols.
Although not winning the Change of Direction Award (won by Goldfields Brass Band in D Grade who played a theatrical game of two-up in the corner) those watching on were highly entertained and once again impressed by Dandenong Band’s continued effort to make marching fun.
The band was subsequently placed second (by one point out of 200) in the Parade of Bands for B Grade and fourth nationally for all grades. The combined on stage and marching points for the weekend saw the band with an overall aggregate of fourth out of a field of twelve in B Grade.
In addition to his role as Musical Director, Michael is also the bands’ Drum Major and took out the B Grade Drum Major Championship for the third consecutive year. On top of this he was also awarded the Champion Australian Drum Major (contested across all grades).
“I sense that the players are slowly warming to the idea of the Nationals contest as a regular event and can see the musical and social benefits that come with it. We play well, we have fun while marching, and we socialise within our own group and with the other bands which is important, and enjoyable,” said Michael.
As well as sharing the music, many of the players went sightseeing and dining together whilst in Brisbane and some even partook in a River Cruise which netted them a fancy hat. Debate still rages as to whether it is a Fedora or a Trilby … or just a hat. Any qualified milliners out there are invited to comment on the photos and advise accordingly.
Overall everyone enjoyed a great weekend in Brisbane with fantastic company, great music and glorious weather. The band would like to thank the band members who were unable to attend the competition this year for all their support leading up to and during the contest, also those players that filled in and helped us out this year, as well as all of our supporters – especially those who were able to make the trip to Brisbane with us. Special thanks also to the Dandenong Band Committee and specifically to our Secretary – Catherine Hillman, for all her tireless work and our Musical Director – Michael Mathers, whose passion and dedication to the Band never stops!
Congratulations and thanks to all the bands who competed over the weekend especially the winning bands:
Brisbane Excelsior Band (A Grade Brass)
Townsville Brass Band (B Grade Brass)
Darebin City Brass – Northern Brass (C Grade Brass)
Goldfields Brass Band (D Grade Brass)
Full results from the weekend can be found at the National Band Championship’s website: http://www.nationalbandchampionships.com/
We also thank Tim Kelly and his amazing team from Brassbanned who enabled all of our friends and family back home in Melbourne to watch the band’s performances live on the net with stunning video and sound quality: http://www.brassbanned.com/
Upon returning to Melbourne the band once again performed its duties at the Dandenong/Cranbourne RSL Dawn Service and ANZAC Service on ANZAC Day including two marches and a small concert for the RSL patrons.
The bands’ next major performance is its annual cabaret concert at the Springvale Town Hall on Saturday 26th July. For tickets please contact the band’s Secretary – Catherine Hillman on 0423 925 192.