What an incredible weekend of music Melbourne has enjoyed this Easter weekend. The Victorian Bands' League have succeeded in hosting a fantastic event with over 3,400 competitors and 78 bands. Hear now from the VBL about the 2018 Nationals, the QBA regarding 2019's Nationals and from Wellington's guest Musical Director Nigel Seaman. Reflect on the results of the Open Brass Grades plus the Open A Grade Concert Bands below!
A Word from the Organisers
Victorian Bands League President Megan Stapleton says "The VBL is thrilled with how the event ran and would like to thank our sponsors, the hardworking volunteers and all the bands for supporting the event. The whole event had a friendly and relaxed vibe."
Megan Stapleton also applauded the presence of international entrants in the Open A Grade Brass event. "It’s always great to have bands visit from overseas and it contributes to the prestige of the event. We would love to see more international bands attending in the future."
Megan acknowledged that the Parade of Bands on Saturday ran overtime, but still viewed it as a success. "Bands enjoyed being able to watch other bands perform and there was plenty of people there to watch. People are often quick to criticise online without considering the reasons why decisions were made". Queensland Band Association President Annette Ries also defended the Parade of Bands, stating "There will always be minor issues at an event of this size and complexity but we felt they were all resolved efficiently."
The QBA is excited about hosting the Nationals in Brisbane again next year. "The 2019 Australian National Band Championships will be held in the iconic Brisbane City Hall, in the centre of the CBD. This beautiful building has just undergone a refurbishment and all of the on-stage band events will be held here."
"The website will go live in the next few weeks and the official schedule released on September 1st. We extend a warm welcome to all bands in Australia and overseas to come to Brisbane in 2019."
In regards to what bands should expect at the competition, the QBA has commented that "the panel of adjudicators was an interesting addition to this year's Nationals and it achieved its purpose of removing subjectivity from the results. From a ‘behind the scenes’ perspective, it was very successful in achieving this goal and the response from the adjudicators was very positive. The decision to adopt this for Brisbane will be explored and discussed by the Nationals committee." This is following on from the introduction of a panel of adjudicators at this year's contest, which the VBL said "worked really well". Megan Stapleton said "The feedback we’ve received from bands has been very positive. We believe that a panel should always be used where possible at future events."
RESULTS - Open Brass Bands and Open A Grade Concert Bands
Open A Grade Concert Bands
In perhaps the most competitive section of the whole weekend, the North West Wind Ensemble claimed the 2018 Australian Open A Grade Concert Band title against their close rivals Hobart Wind Symphony and Unley Concert Band. With each of the three bands claiming a national title in the last 3 years, it was up in the air who would succeed this year, but the panel of adjudicators were convinced that North West Wind Ensemble were the leading ensemble, winning in all 4 of the categories.
Open D Grade Brass Band
Creswick Brass Band claimed victory in the Open D Grade with a clean sweep of the on stage performances. 2nd place went to the 2017 Champions Croydon, followed by Whitehorse Brass. Far Northern Brass, Daylesford Community Brass and Portland Citizens Brass experienced their first ever Nationals contest, with Portland standing out as clear winners in the Marching Championship.
Open C Grade Brass
Of the 12 C Grade competitors, Wonthaggi Citizens' Band stood head and shoulders above their rivals with a clean sweep of the on stage performances. Closing out the placings were Mitcham City and Western Brass. Moonee Valley saw gold in the Marching Championship.
Open B Grade Brass
It was a much more tightly fought battle in the B Grade, with Cairns Brass taking the title a narrow one point ahead of Marion Brass. Geelong West closed out the placings after a strong performance on the Sunday. Cairns also saw gold in the Marching championship, followed by Dandenong Band and Brisbane Brass.
Open A Grade Brass
The 15 competitors did not disappoint in perhaps the highest class Nationals competition we have seen in the last couple of years. Wellington Brass reclaimed the Australian National Title under the baton of Nigel Seaman, claiming victory in all on stage categories and the Street Parade. Their performance of 'Fraternity' will go down as perhaps one of the greatest performances of banding music on Australian soil.
Brisbane Excelsior and Central Coast closed out the top 3, while Preston Band secured the highest scored Victorian Band position (4th) with a 3rd place performance in their Own Choice. Other notable moments include Sonamu Brass Band venturing all the way from South Korea for the contest, and bringing a brand new banding sound to Australia. Kew Band, under newly appointed musical director Broden Ford, surpassed their recent performances with a solid 7th place finish. Boroondara Brass also demonstrated their A Grade ability with an 11th place finish, performing better than some long standing A grade counterparts.
Thoughts from Nigel Seaman (MD of Wellington)
In a brief comment made by Wellington Brass' guest Musical Director Nigel Seaman, he explained how Wellington was totally committed to the contest from the get go. "There was initially a bit of anxiety from both sides when I arrived; how would we get on? Because if we didn’t get on, it would be a very long month! But we hit it off straight away. They knew I meant business from the first rehearsal when we spent 30 minutes on the first 4 bars of Ravenswood. The band was fully committed to everything they did, they worked their socks off and that was shown in the performances, ‘Fraternity’ especially. It was played full of passion and commitment."
Nigel told me of how he "certainly enjoyed" the Melbourne Nationals and found it a "very pleasant experience". He is in discussions to return to Wellington in July to compete at the New Zealand National Band Championships.
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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.