The 2018 Easter long weekend saw Melbourne host the Australian National Band Championships with 78 competing bands and over 3,400 players. The event was held at several venues with exceptional performance facilities and concert halls including the Methodist Ladies College and Xavier College in Kew. The competition was a fantastic event and our congratulations and thanks go to the Victorian Bands League and in particular, Megan Stapleton (VBL President and event organiser) and her dedicated group of volunteers who made the event a real joy.
The format of the competition includes the stage performance of a set test work and an own choice hymn on Friday, a street march event on Saturday and the performance of an own choice major work and a stage march played on Sunday. The championships for the Open section brass bands are divided into 4 graded sections with bands competing within the appropriate section for their abilities.
This year the Footscray-Yarraville City Band competed with two band ensembles including Western Brass (Musical Director Erin Ellenburg) in the Open C grade section and the Footscray-Yarraville City Band (Musical Director Phillipa Edwards) in the Open A Grade section.
Western Brass had a great weekend in their first ever Nationals campaign and placed 3rd overall in a very strong section of twelve competing bands.
Footscray-Yarraville City Band have had great results at the last two National Championship with a 3rd place overall in the 2016 competition in Adelaide and a 2nd place last year in Launceston. The 2018 Nationals saw a field of 15 A-Grade bands including bands from New Zealand and South Korea. While our band did not achieve a podium place in this year’s stage event we did place first for the music category on the street march event and an overall 3rd for the street march section. Special thanks to Steve Semmler-Farr for a terrific arrangement of Michael Jackson’s ‘Don’t Stop til you get enough!’ for our music selection on the march!
Hyde Street Youth Band (Musical Director Jeroen Bentcourt), and Hyde Street Youth Band Junior Band (Musical Director Phillipa Edwards) also had a very successful weekend, with the Junior Band placing 3rd in the Junior C Grade Section. HSYB had an incredibly busy weekend, competing in both the Open D Grade (7th place), and winning the Junior B Grade!
The National Championships are a very important part of the band’s primary goals of Musical and Performance Excellence, and also encouraging young people to become involved in music with the positive effect it has on them and our community. Footscray-Yarraville City Band has a strong development program and is also actively involved in mentoring and providing support for Western Brass and Hyde Street Youth Band, and we had a number of junior players involved in solo and ensemble sections of the competition.
The Footscray-Yarraville City Band, together with our second band Western Brass and the Hyde Street Youth Band have established a strong community banding precinct in Footscray that ensures that our shared bandroom facility is well utilised and provides vital arts and cultural opportunities for new players and the wider community. We are also very excited about the opportunities that the recently launched Footscray-Yarraville City Percussion Academy will provide to young people in the Western Suburbs and are very grateful for the leadership and commitment of Katie Thomas as the principal tutor. We look forward to seeing her students involved in future National Band Championships!
We are very grateful for the continued support of the Maribyrnong City Council and we proudly represent our vibrant community when we perform at these National competitions.
It is a real joy to share the stage with an amazing group of people and play music together. Its all about mateship, supporting each other and doing the best you can. The reward is being able to play music, connect with the audience and leaving something special.
Photo credit: Jacqui Schulz