Wow, what a year! 2019 was a yet another big one for the City of Greater Dandenong Band. We welcomed our new musical director, Jamie Lawson, who has slotted into our band seamlessly and is continuing to lead the band to new heights.
The band started the year with a bang where we had the opportunity to play at Government House for their Australia Day celebrations. Hosted by the Hon. Linda Dessau and Mr Anthony Howard QC, visitors were invited to view the historical State Apartments and enjoy a variety of activities and displays throughout the grounds. It was a great privilege for the band to be invited to be a part of the day.
Next, it was heads down, pencils out in preparation for the National Band Championships held at Brisbane City Hall. This year saw the City of Greater Dandenong Band's tenth consecutive year of participation in the Nationals Competition. The B grade test piece for 2019 was 'The Legend of Pandora', it involved some very challenging solo sections that featured a number of players throughout the band. The band also performed the hymn tune, 'In Love for Me, own choice, 'The Saga of Haakon the Good', and the march 'Simoraine'. There were 16 bands in B grade, of which Dandenong placed 7th overall. The band placed 4th for both the stage march and own choice sections, and were the highest placed Victorian Band in the B grade Own choice category. A tremendous effort!
Another integral part of the Nationals weekend is the Saturday street parade; which Dandenong Band has become one of the crowd favourites over the year, as we are known for our entertaining right hand turns. This year, with our newly appointed Drum Major, Cameron Sanders, the players formed a choreographed circular dance to the song 'The circle of Life' from The Lion King. Our efforts managed to secure the band equal 2nd place in this category. Well done to all involved, it was another wonderful weekend of banding!
ANZAC was upon us not long after Easter this year, a smaller group than usual took to the Pillars of Freedom in Dandenong for the Dawn Service. After a bite to eat and a coffee, we were back again for a small march and 11am service to commemorate the ANZACS and to pay our respects for those serving both locally and abroad to keep our country safe.
After prepping for Nationals, it was time to take a giant leap into our spaced theme cabaret in July 2019. The City of Greater Dandenong Band marked the 50th anniversary of the 1969 moon landing in style. Performing to an audience of almost 300 people at Springvale City Hall, the evening was certainly one to remember. Featuring special guests including the Voices of Casey Choir, vocalist Danielle Matthews, and a world premiere performance of a Jared McCunnie work, 'Freefall', performed on euphonium by Fletcher Mitchell – one of the stand out moments of the evening. Thank you again to all of the incredible people behind the scenes that worked tirelessly to ensure the night was a success. We look forward to the next cabaret in 2020.
September saw the band competing again, this time in the Latrobe Valley Eisteddfod in Traralgon, Victoria. The City of Greater Dandenong Band placed first in both the A and B Grade sections. On top of this, all 3 of our small ensembles also place first in their sections! Congratulations, Dandenong!!
October was a busy month for the band with a number of playouts, including the annual memorial service for the National Servicemen's League. We also had the opportunity to join the Australian Welsh Male Choir for an afternoon of music at St Paul's Cathedral, Melbourne. It was an amazing experience for the band to play in such a prestigious venue. Following the concert, we joined the choir at Young and Jackson's for one of their famous 'singing in the pub' sessions; in true Welsh style!
In November we partook in the Annual State Remembrance Service at Springvale War Cemetery and the NASHO Cup Ceremony for the Tri-Service Cadet Parade. We were also very fortunate to be a part of the Help Is On Its Way Concert held at Bunjil Place Theatre. Help is on its way is a local choral initiative led by Jonathon Welch, offering an opportunity for individual singers and choirs to come together to sing, whilst raising awareness and fostering dialogue around family violence and positive mental health, particularly for males in our community. It was an honour to be a part of this event.
Before we knew it, December was here – which meant Christmas and the New Year were about to arrive once more. Dusting off the old red carol books for another year and heading out to the Dandenong Market and Springvale Bunnings for carolling, Harmony Square for the annual Carols service and Balmoral Gardens for another night of carolling with some of our favourite fans.
2019 was a big year but 2020 is looking to be just as big. Preparations are already beginning for upcoming gigs and for the next Nationals Competition, held in Perth. We would like to thank you all for your ongoing support in 2019 and look forward to seeing what the band gets up to in the coming year!!