This year's Melbourne Nationals see 12 bands (following Frankston's withdrawal from the competition) compete in the Open C Grade Brass. A new National Champion will be crowned, following Latrobe Federal's back to back victory in the C Grade in 2016/17.
For whoever is crowned champion, B Grade contesting will surely not be far away. The C Grade competition has proven in the last 6 years to be a strong predictor of formidable B Grade bands, with Northern Brass (2014/15 Winners) and Marion City (2012/2013 Winners) both winning back to back C Grade titles prior to Latrobe Federal, and going on to achieve various successes in B Grade, such as Northern's 3rd place finish at the Victorian States 2017, or Marion's 3rd place at the 2017 Nationals. Could this year's winner go on to be another strong B Grade contender in years to come? Only time will tell!
Test Piece - 'The Graces of Love' by Oliver Waespi
What a great selection for C Grade! I love Oliver Waespi's compositional style and think this selection will be enjoyed thoroughly by performers, listeners and adjudicators alike! I was surprised to find that no C Grade bands have played any Waespi work at a contest, so this test selection results in an equal playing field for all the bands.
Dynamics, maintaining tempo and confident solos will likely be the deciding factors for 'The Graces of Love'. A strong percussion section will assist the band with its ostinati passages. But, all in all, 'The Graces of Love' should be an exciting test work and should be enjoyed by all the C Grade bands!
Looking at previous Nationals test work results, it can only be expected the Warriparinga, Boroondara Harmony Brass and City of Greater Bendigo will perform well in the test, but Waespi's unique style might see a dark horse emerge with the adjudicators' preferred interpretation of the work.
The reigning champions Latrobe Federal have been promoted from the C Grade, so high expectations will then fall on 2017's runner ups Warriparinga Brass. The South Australian band has not dropped outside the top 3 of every Nationals contest in both C and D Grade over the last 5 years, and will come out swinging to ensure a high place again against a large and formidable competition.
Western Brass, runners up at the Victorian State Championships last year, are leading the Victorian bands enjoying a home state advantage. The sibling band of Footscray Yarraville, they have struggled to compete at Nationals because of permit rules, but after filling some seats with more permanent members, they will be looking to smear the C Grade competition with their distinct mustard hue. Narrowly missing out on a place at the State Championships were Wonthaggi Citizens' Band, who haven't competed at a National level in the C Grade since their demotion, and will be fired up for victory.
City of Greater Bendigo Brass may prove to be red hot contenders in the test section, after their strong performance of 'Chorale and Toccata' at the 2016 Nationals which placed them 2nd in the test item. In the bright red are Moonee Valley Brass, who will be competing in their first Nationals since the appointment of Greg Flood as Musical Director. Adding to the rainbow of bands (and uniforms!) are the orange of Boroondara Harmony Brass led by Doug Lewis, who will want to do better than their 5th place finish in Launceston. Marist Brass, led by Colin Wellard, will be also looking to impress, especially after a disappointing result at the States last year.
Bankstown City Brass have sat nicely within the C Grade competition since 2002, They carry some of the most competition experience, and that could show this Easter weekend. Also from NSW are Maitland City Brass Band, who will be optimistic after their 3rd place at the NSW States in 2017. Venturing up to the mainland are Tasmanian State C Grade runners up Ulverstone Municipal, as well as Hobart Brass Band, who will be looking to perform well after their 2nd place in the D Grade at Launceston. From South Australia are the current C Grade South Australian Champions Mitcham City Brass, who will be looking for their first Nationals placing since 2011.
All in all, a fantastic line up of bands, but here are my predicted top 5:
3) City of Greater Bendigo
4) Mitcham City
5) Boroondara Harmony
Dark Horses: Moonee Valley, Ulverstone Municipal, Wonthaggi Citizens
You might also like...
Jared loves to share his passion for music and artists through music reviews and commentaries. These include a selection of reviews written for community radio stations 3MBS and Radio Monash.