OPINION – How the 2018 Australian National Championships Will Make for a Great Brass Banding Competition
A new year, and for brass bands-people, it's time for a new Nationals quest! With less than 12 weeks until the Melbourne Nationals, I thought I'd just share my thoughts on what should be one of the most exciting Nationals in recent history. I unfortunately will not be attending the Nationals, as you can find out about here, but I will be very interested to hear how all the grades go, and what interesting musical selections bands have made!
In the midst of all the anticipation, I think there are three things that will make the 2018 Nationals particularly noteworthy and encourage a fantastic weekend of music.
As a Melbournian, I must admit to be guilty of thinking that Victoria is far superior to other states, but the Nationals returning to Melbourne brings great advantages to the annual National competition. Melbourne Nationals historically have attracted high numbers of entries, with as high as 16 A Grade bands and 14 D Grade bands (in 2007). The 2018 competition in Kew should be no different, being a short drive from the Melbourne CBD and with plenty of accommodation in both surburbia and the CBD area.
MLC and Xavier boast fantastic venues that should truly enhance all bands’ sound across all grades. After some venue issues last Victorian Nationals, the current committee have sourced two high quality auditoriums that will be exciting for the crowd, adjudicator and of course Tim's Brassbanned streamers!
THE ADJUDICATION CHANGE
This year’s Nationals will feature a panel of three adjudicators for all Open brass band events, as disclosed here. A panel should ideally produce a less scrutinised and more constructive adjudication result and feedback. How often have we heard bands claiming that they were the best band on the day with everyone except the one person in the adjudication box? A panel of high calibre adjudicators will make the 2018 results unquestionable, and allow bands to accept the results, and truly enjoy celebrating the incredible music over 2018’s Easter weekend.
Furthermore, it goes without saying that allocating David Bremner as Chief Brass Adjudicator is an exciting selection, considering Bremner's impressive resume. It will be of interest to see if the VBL and NBCA have sourced more international adjudicators to fill the panels, or will fall back on local talent.
While the NBCA is yet to announce the full list of competing bands, 2018’s competition should be close and exciting across all grades, which I will do a more in-depth discussion on closer to the National competition.
In short, both B and C Grade will have new National champions after Boroondara and Latrobe Federal's back-to-back National successes respectively, obliging them to a grade step up. In A grade, the wide spread of competitors from 2017’s champions Central Coast, the current New Zealand Champions Brisbane Excelsior and the ever-rising Victorian State Champions Footscray Yarraville make up just three contenders in the hot pot for Australian’s highest brass banding accomplishment. D Grade also sees a wide spread of surging contenders, including 2017’s Champions Croydon Brass, 2016’s Champions Ararat Brass or the consistent Warriparinga Brass.
The 2018 Nationals is undeniably not going to be a competition to miss, and is shaping to be one of Australia’s most exciting brass banding contests in recent history. It is more than just who wins though; the Nationals should be about celebrating community bands making fantastic music and having fun in the meantime. So, to all bands competing in March, practice hard, enjoy making quality music and I wish you the best of luck across all grades!
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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.