Every 5-6 years, the Australian National Band Championships comes to Melbourne ... this year in 2018 would be that very year. Some had been reminiscing of the last time the Nationals was in Melbourne, being hosted in St Kilda and at times there was a little scepticism and perhaps doubt in people’s minds whether the event could hold up to be just as good this year by being hosted at Xavier College and Methodist Ladies College situated in Kew district.
But alas, the contest this year across the Easter weekend was no different to any other year ... with perfect weather and the program schedule running like clockwork, all those involved could agree that it was a huge success.
We are really proud and pleased with all of our performances across the weekend and are especially honoured to have performed the world contest premiere of composer, Jared McCunnie’s hymn, "Deep Harmony".
This year, 35 Dandenong Band members took to the Nationals contest stage for the second year in a row with no need for permit players like many other bands would utilise. There had been many instances in the lead up to the competition of bands withdrawing due to lack of players. Fortunately with Dandenong’s large member base we were never going to have such an issue. This is a testament to the hard working growing team that truly enjoy and love doing what they do.
The band was lucky enough to be given a late afternoon draw for Friday, which meant a final finishing rehearsal or perhaps a finishing touch could be placed on the pieces in the morning beforehand. After many months of preparation, the band performed the aforementioned hymn along with the Open B Grade test piece, "The Snaring of the Sun".
For the reader not familiar with how the contest works, it goes like thus... Once the band is on stage ready to play, the official adjudicator will ring a bell to signal that he or she is ready to hear the band play. The adjudicator follows a copy of the sheet music (the score) throughout the band’s performance and judges the band on how accurately the music is followed. Throughout the performance, the adjudicator will provide a verbal recording of key moments in the music, along with written notes, which are then made available to the band at the entirety of the weekend. To combat any bias from the adjudicator this year, the contest would run slightly differently with a total of 3 adjudicators judging each band and points scored would be a calculated average of the 3 adjudications combined. An amalgamation of points gained across the weekend goes towards a final placing.
After the first day, it would provide a slight feeling of relief for some players and perhaps a sustained heightened state of nerves for others.
In the Open 'B' Grade Brass Street March, held on the Saturday, we placed 2nd overall and took out the Most Entertaining Change of Direction for our carousel corner, scoring the highest points across all grades for the Change of Direction!
Sunday was the final day of contesting for bands. This year we tackled some pretty challenging music, which we would not have even thought possible of attempting a few years ago. There were rumours in the lead up to the contest from people outside of Dandenong that we would not be able to handle our own choice piece, Gilbert Vinter's masterpiece "Spectrum". However, we rose to the challenge and enjoyed every minute of the journey it took us on, giving a sensational performance that left many in the audience in a state of wonder and appreciation. In a raised state of awe from the Spectrum performance, the band surprised themselves, finishing with an astounding rendition of the march, "The Contestor".
This year marked the band’s ninth consecutive participation in the National Australian Band championships. In those nine years, the Nationals campaign was driven heavily by our brilliant Musical Director, Multi-National Champion Drum Major & Change of Direction Mastermind Extraordinaire – Michael Mathers. This year being one of the most successful, will have been Michael’s last Nationals contest with Dandenong Band (for now). The band is deeply saddened that Michael will be leaving the band at the end of this year, heading interstate to begin a new adventure with his family. The City of Greater Dandenong sincerely thank Michael for all the work that he has contributed over the years on the Nationals stage.
It would be remiss of the band also not to acknowledge all the hard working volunteers that contribute countless hours into making sure the Australian National Band Championships goes off without a hitch. Thank you to the Victorian Bands’ League along with their president, Megan Stapleton for organising and running a superb National Championships. The Brassbanned team for their awesome live streaming coverage of the weekend, which enabled our friends and families all over the world see us perform. Along with this year’s sponsors who made the event possible; Yamaha Music Australia, Ozwinds Brass and Woodwind, Hal Leonard Australia, and Fine Music.
A massive "Thank You!" also to all our supporters, all of our awesome band members, our fantastic Committee especially our Secretary - Catherine Hillman.
Congratulations to our friends at Cairns Brass for taking out the B Grade title this year, and to all of the other bands for their brilliant performances over the weekend.
The City of Greater Dandenong Band is already in preparations for their upcoming Cabaret spectacular to be held on Saturday 30 June at the Springvale Town Hall. We can’t wait to bring you more music!