2009 Australasian Open - Introduction & Predictions


The world is getting a smaller place - from Queensland to Prestatyn in North Wales on the same weekend. Guess who got lucky...

fabbJust to emphasis that the world is indeed getting a smaller place, just a few hours after performing their integral roles at the National Championships of Great Britain in London, composer Peter Graham and adjudicator David King boarded a flight to do the same thing at the 2009 Australasian Open being held at Cooloongatta, Queensland this weekend.

Integral part

The reason for the long haul flight is that both professors will once again be playing an integral part at a major championship – Peter Graham in a dual role as both the composer of the set work ‘The Torchbearer’ and as a judge, where David King and Steve Bastable will join him in the box over the two days.

More information on the judges can be found at:

20th anniversary

David KingIt was David King (right) who initiated the idea of commemorating the 20th anniversary of the death of Eric Ball with a work from Peter Graham – the result of which being ‘The Torchbearer – Symphonic Variations on a Theme by Eric Ball’ which was used to popular acclaim at the Royal Albert Hall.

There the audience, players and conductors loved it – the adroit pastiche writing testing the performers and delighting the listeners. It will undoubtedly do the same here.

Not a bad place

It’s not a bad place to do a few days work either.
Coolangatta is to be found on the Tweed Coast, which is the coastal boarder between Queensland and New South Wales and is packed to the brim with all the facilities performances and listeners will enjoy and appreciate.  Just in case anyone needs to cool off, the venue is less than 80 metres from the famous Kirra Beach.

Given that British bandsmen and women will be enjoying the October delights of Prestatyn in North Wales at the Pontins Championships this weekend (where the beach is also less than 80 meters away but isn’t half as welcoming), you can see why the event is growing in popularity with brass band lovers from all over the southern hemisphere.   

Innovative and progressive

The Federation of Australasian Brass Bands (FABB) has a very innovative and progressive approach to the contesting genre (registration is much more open than in the UK) and their ambition to make something of lasting note has been emphasised by the joint commission with the National Championships in Great Britain of the set work.

That innovation sees the musical event consisting of two sections.

Australasian Open

The first, the Australasian Open, consists of that one test piece for all bands. 

This is followed by a 30-minute concert/entertainment programme on the following day, recorded in HD for possible use as a televised event, to promote public appeal. Bands must produce a themed 30 minute programme including at least one brass soloist.

BastableAdjudication for the first discipline is closed (and will be undertaken by Professors King and Graham), whilst adjudication is for the Entertainment discipline is open (and sees Steve Bastable (right) join David King). 

In addition, the winner of the solo prize will get an automatic entry to the Ern Keller International Soloist of the Year event with FABB sponsoring their participation by way of airfare and accommodation costs.

Each event has its own trophy and title and a winners purse in each of AU$5,000.

Other attractions

There are other attractions too.

On Friday 23rd there will be an ABC Forum for composers and conductors with Professor Peter Graham (below) and Professor David King and later the dame day Peter will speak about the test piece.

On Saturday 24th commencing at 12.30pm, the first band will take to the stage to compete at the Australasian Open, with the Australasian Entertainment Open taking place on the Sunday at the same time.

After all the playing will come the presentations, whilst to keep everyone even happier, the bar will remain open into the small hours of the following morning! You can see why it’s becoming such a popular event then.

4BR’s Anthony Banwell has also taken the opportunity to visit what will soon become his new homeland, and will be reporting on the event with the help of the regular members of 4BR Downunder.   
Further information can be found at:

GrahamAs for possible winners?

Two very different disciplines, although it will be interesting to see which of the competitors here will be able to really put down a top class performance of the set work – only four of the best bands in London really got to grips with ‘Torchbearer’.

Euphonium, soprano and solo cornet players will need to be on the top of their game for sure.

With that in mind we have opted for Gunnedah to lead the way on the test piece, ahead of Kew and Warringah.

The fun and games of the Sunday should see some cracking performances with plenty of top class brass inspired entertainment on show. K& N Spring Gully look like the form horses here, closely followed by Warringah and Footscray.


Australasian Open (Test)
1. Gunnedah
2. Kew Band Melbourne
3. Warringah
Dark Horse: K&N Spring Gully Brass

Australasian Entertainment Open
1. K&N Spring Gully Brass
2. Warringah
3. Footscray
Dark Horse: Brisbane Brass


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