For the 7th consecutive year, the City of Greater Dandenong Band ventured across the countryside, instruments and snacks in hand, to the Australian National Band Championships.
Hosted in Gawler, South Australia, the Band were just as excited about the music as the gorgeous scenery of the Barossa Valley. Staying in Nuriootpa, surrounded by tranquil vineyards and fresh country air, we could not have asked for a better reward to our months of preparation, organisation, and hard work.
After an early morning warmup at the lovely Marananga Band room, the Band hit the stage on the first day like angels - sounding like angels that is. Our hymn, Prelude on the Hymn Tune ‘Lavenham’, was delightfully delivered with finesse and grace - particularly by our resident master of vibrato and flugelhorn extraordinaire Cassi de Lacy-Vawdon (aka Sam Sparks). The test piece, aptly named Blazon, set the stage ablaze with sound and pleased audience and Band members alike. The adjudicator later commented on the Band’s fantastic range of tonal colours and contrastive sections. His favourite section seemed to be the trombone feature, or that's what they'll have you believe.
Day two saw the Band pull out all the stops for the Parade of Bands. Dubbed the “City of Best Dandenong Band” by live stream maestro Tim Kelly, Drum Major Mick Mathers lead the team into battle, literally. Marching to The Magnificent Seven theme, the Band approached the corner whereupon principle cornet Tim Hellyer sounded the battle cry. The Band then quickly divided into two teams of Cavalry versus Indians and a full on charge ensued. The enthusiasm of the crowd increased as they were showered with nerf bullets and bore witness to the largest hat charge in the history of brass banding. The Band had turned on each other with the cornets charging forth, riding their horns and playing kazoos, as the low brass and percussion took aim. Thoroughly entertained, the crowd continued to cheer as the Band marched off toward their sunset, back in perfect lines. After this “magnificent” display, Mick Mathers was awarded the B Grade Champion Drum Major award for the fourth time in a row, as well as the title of Champion Australian Drum Major – Jim Brill Memorial Trophy (contested across all grades) for the second consecutive year. The Band’s Change of Direction received the highest score out of all of the Bands on the Parade, you can check it out here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPxPsQYGf_o&t=108m52s
Waking up the next morning, we all felt the pressure of the big day ahead. Our Own Choice, the majestic London Overture by Philip Sparke, was a challenging piece to highlight the strengths of the Band. After a short warm up and tune, the Band showed the stamina and skill it had developed whilst working on the piece, making it well worth the rehearsals. It was a great feeling to have played the work to such a high standard, causing small high fives all around. Moving on to our stage march Washington Grays, the Band ended their contribution to the competition strongly.
Results showed our continued improvement across all areas, placing us 7th nationally and the second placed Victorian Band behind the recently relegated Boroondara Brass (who won the grade). A huge congratulations to everyone who participated, it was a mammoth effort from everyone to go and compete so well.
Despite the busy days of competition, the real shenanigans occur in the evening. As well as the now compulsory game of cards, the Band enjoyed two dinners together, complete with the Aussie essentials: beer, footy and banter. By the end of these nights, everyone was glad that they could play their instruments better than tell jokes.
The City of Greater Dandenong Band would like to thank all of our supporters, families and friends. We are also very grateful for the support from our Band members who were unable to attend this year’s competition and all those who were able to join the Band for this adventure. Special thanks to the Band Committee, our Secretary Catherine Hillman and our Musical Director Michael Mathers. Your contributions to the organisation and success of our Band make it possible for us to be showcased at our best.
Congratulations to all of the bands who attended the competition, especially the winning bands:
Brisbane Excelsior (Open ‘A’ Grade Brass Band)
Boroondara Brass (Open ‘B’ Grade Brass Band)
Latrobe Federal Band (Open ‘C’ Grade Brass Band)
Ararat City Band (Open ‘D’ Grade Brass Band)
Full results from the weekend will soon be available on the National Band Championship’s website: www.nationalbandchampionships.com.au
We would also like to thank Tim Kelly and the team at Brassbanned for another sensational year of live streaming the event. Thank you for enabling our families and friends to be a part of the action from home. For future competitions, be sure to keep up to date on the Brassbanned website: www.brassbanned.com
The Band’s next major performance will be the ANZAC Day Parade and Service on Sunday 17th of April at the Springvale Town Hall followed by services on ANZAC Day in Dandenong.
After this, the Band will be preparing for it’s annual Cabaret concert at Springvale Town Hall to be held on Saturday 9 July. This years theme is the exciting "Wide World of Brass" - an evening of sports related music.