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Report & Result: 2018 Yamaha Australian National Band Championships

The famous Fireman's Helmet National Trophy heads over the Tasman Sea to New Zealand as Wellington Brass claim the Australian National Championship honours in Melbourne.

  Wellington Brass Band conducted by Nigel Seaman has regained the famous Fireman's Helmet Australian National Trophy

Wellington Brass swept their southern hemisphere rivals aside in Melbourne on the weekend to take the famous Fireman's Helmet National Trophy back across the Tasman Sea.

Led by Cory's Musical Advisor Nigel Seaman, they won both the Championship Section contest and separate street march competition, securing the A Grade title they last won in 2015 with a resounding own-choice performance of 'Fraternity' — one that was described by Chief Adjudicator David Bremner as being a "spectacular world class performance".


Earlier, the foundation of their success was built on a classy rendition of the set-work, 'Time Machine' by Thomas Doss. A cultured rendition of their selected hymn 'In Love for Me' and bold march item also topped the discipline categories to eventually build a comprehensive five-point margin of victory over former winners Brisbane Excelsior, with defending champion Central Coast Brass in third.

And whilst David Bremner joked that he and fellow judges Maureeen Cameron and Alan Lourens were grateful to the excellent organisers "…for arranging an armoured vehicle to get us back to the hotel", the Australian banding public will have known that the New Zealanders were the worthiest of winners — even appreciating the waspish humour displayed by them in winning the Street March categories.

Cricket travails

There, they poked fun at the recent travails of the Australian cricket team, with a brilliant re-enactment of the infamous 'underarm bowling' controversy that took place at Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1981 — complete with batsman in retro kit as the band played the famous World Series Cricket theme tune. All that was missing was the sandpaper and the tears of resignation from Australian counterparts…

Back inside the concert hall Wellington ensured that their victory also had little to dispute.

"We were very unanimous in our decisions" David Bremmner said, before adding, that there were "two outstanding performances" on the Thomas Doss set-work. It was also one which he said was a "fantastic test" with the top five or six bringing out the "colours" in their "strong performances".

Accurate description

And whilst he pin-pointed what he called "the usual things" about intonation, balance and flow in regard to the hymn tune renditions and the need for clarity and precision in the march selections, he felt the own-choice pieces were "all strong" with some "outstanding performances" — although he did feel that there were "disappointing" dynamic contrasts.

That was certainly an accurate description of a number of accounts in both disciplines; with Brisbane XLCR under Howard Taylor perhaps guilty of pushing too hard at the extremes at times on their own-choice of 'A Brussels Requiem' as they sought a ninth title success, whilst Central Coast led by Conrad Curry just overcooked things on 'St Magnus'.

"We were bombarded by fortissimos at times" he said, before highlighting the one "spectacular world class performance" that stood out, as Nigel Seaman brought the rich textures and emotive undercurrents of Thierry Deleruyelle's work to the fore allied to razor sharp precision with Wellington.

However, there was much to enjoy from fourth placed Darebin City with their own-choice of 'Metamorphosis for Brass Band' (coming third in the own-choice discipline) as well as with Warringah Concert Brass and Brisbane Brass in fifth and sixth overall.

Warm reception

There was also a warm reception for Sonamu Brass Band from South Korea under MD Jeong Sup Kim, especially after their spirited rendition of 'On the Shoulders of Giants' and the march 'Jubilee', played at breakneck speed, saw them gain a wonderful ovation from the audience at the Methodist Ladies College.

The results though bore out the judge's findings; with Wellington's clean sweep of the prizes presented one after another to their guest conductor Nigel Seaman.

He in turn said that he was "the proudest Welshman in this building tonight!" (the first since Nigel Weeks in 2001 to conduct the winning band at the event) he as he thanked the players for "working their socks off" in the month long preparation under his baton. "They aspire to the highest possible level" he said, "and they have done this from the word go."

They in turn thanked him for his efforts, stating on their Facebook page that he had "lifted the band to new heights" — some accolade given their recent list of achievements.

The accumulated silverware on the table in front of him on stage emphasised the weight of both opinions, while Nigel's sense of pride will have surely been shared by the celebrating New Zealanders for a victory that gives them a huge boost of confidence as they start their preparations for their own National Championships in Blenheim in July.

Grade winners

Elsewhere there was a victory for the Queenslanders of Cairns Brass in the B Grade under Jon Christodoulides as they pipped Marion City from South Australia by a single point to reclaim the title for the first time since 2015. Geelong West from Victoria was third.

Meanwhile, there was a comprehensive 'clean-sweep' victory for Wonthaggi Citizen's led by Craig Marinus in the C Grade, ahead of rivals Mitcham City Brass and Western Brass, whilst Creswick Brass Band conducted by Katrina Bird took the D Grade honours.

The Junior Grade honours went to Gunnedah Shire Band, Hyde Street Youth Band and North West Junior Brass Band.

Wellington secured the A Grade title they last won in 2015 with a resounding own-choice performance of 'Fraternity' — one that was described by Chief Adjudicator David Bremner as being a "spectacular world class performance"4BR


A Grade:

Adjudicators: David Bremner; Maureen Cameron; Alan Lourens
Set-Work: Time Machine (Thomas Doss)
Hymn/Test Piece/Own Choice/ Stage March = Total

1. Wellington Brass Band (NZ) (Nigel Seaman): 94/195/198/94 = 581
2. Brisbane Excelsior Band (Howard Taylor): 93/194/196/ 93 = 576
3. Central Coast Brass (Conrad Curry): 92/192/193/92 = 569
4. Darebin City Brass — Preston Band (Andrew Snell): 91/190/194/91 = 566
5. Warringah Concert Brass (John Saunders): 91/188/190/90 = 559
6. Brisbane Brass (Josh McKechie): 90/178/188/89 = 545
7. Kew Band Melbourne (Broden Ford): 90/179/185/88 = 542
8. Glenorchy City Concert Brass (N/K): 90/184/179/88 = 541
9. South Brisbane Federal Band (Tom Paulin): 89/183/181/88 = 541
10. Footscray-Yarraville City Band (Phillipa Edwards): 89/175/187/89 = 540
11. Boroondara Brass (Daniel van Bergen): 89/183/179/87 = 538
12. Sonamu Brass Band (Korea) (Jeong Sup Kim): 89/173/178/88 = 528
13. Willoughby Band (Josh Mann): 89/171/176/87 = 523
14. City of Holroyd Brass Band (Richard Sandham): 89/175/171/87 = 522
15. Tanunda Town Band (Bruce Raymond): 90/169/172/87 = 518

B Grade:

Adjudicators: John Collinson; Peter Luff; Andrea McMahon
Set-Work: The Snaring of the Sun (Stephen Roberts)
Hymn/Test Piece/Own Choice/ Stage March = Total

1. Cairns Brass (Jon Christodoulides): 90/180/191/96 = 557
2. Marion City Band (Veronica Boulton): 92/182/189/93 = 556
3. Geelong West Brass Band (Jeff Steele): 83/174/183/94 = 534
4. Brisbane Brass No. 2 (Richard Madden): 81/176/181/89 = 527
5. Maroondah Brass (Ron Moore): 88/172/171/92 = 523
6. Darebin City Brass — Northern Brass (Jamie Lawson): 85/169/178/90 = 522
7. Canning City Brass (Matt Barker): 85/169/175/92 = 521
8. Box Hill City Band (Simon Brown): 81/165/182/92 = 520
9. Townsville Brass (Mark Smith): 84/166/177/90 = 517
10. Parramatta City Brass (Jonathan Gatt): 83/164/181/89 = 517
11. Toronto Brass (Tom O'Hearn): 85/170/170/91 = 516
12. City of Greater Dandenong Band (Michael Mathers): 81/165/177/91 = 514
13. Surfers Paradise Brass Band (Scott King): 83/161/176/88 = 508

C Grade:

Adjudicators: Eric Anderson; Jenny Going; David Musk
Set-Work: The Graces of Love (Oliver Waespi)
Hymn/Test Piece/Own Choice/ Stage March = Total

1. Wonthaggi Citizens' Band (Craig Marinus): 94/195/196/95 = 580
2. Mitcham City Brass (Steven Packer): 92/192/195/93 = 572
3. Western Brass (Erin Ellenburg): 91/189/192/94 = 566
4. Ulverstone Municipal Band (Thomas Lamb): 91/187/193/92 = 563
5. City of Greater Bendigo Brass Band (Cally Bartlett): 90/185/194/91 = 560
6. Marist Brass Band (Colin Wellard): 91/185/192/91 = 559
7. Maitland City Brass Band (Luke Bradbery): 90/191/182/90 = 553
8. Moonee Valley Brass (Greg Flood): 93/179/185/90 = 547
9. Boroondara Harmony Brass (Douglas Lewis): 91/182/184/89 = 546
10. Hobart Brass Band (Robyn Males): 90/183/182/88 = 543
11. Warriparinga Brass (Veronica Boulton): 91/181/177/89 = 538
12. Bankstown City Brass (Ken Bradley): 89/175/180/88 = 532

D Grade:

Adjudicators: Robert Breen; Matt Klohs; Chris Smith
Set-Work: An English Pastorale (Dean Jones)
Hymn/Test Piece/Own Choice/ Stage March = Total

1. Creswick Brass Band (Katrina Bird): 85/190/189/85 = 549
2. Croydon Brass Band (Melinga Benger): 83/188/187/84 = 542
3. Whitehorse Brass (Broden Ford): 84/187/183/83 = 537
4. Ararat City Band (Wally Pope): 82/185/185/81 = 533
5. Far Northern Brass (Mathan Wiltshire): 80/179/184/81 = 524
6. Eaglehawk Citizens' Brass Band (Ken Wellard): 81/181/179/82 = 523
7. Hyde Street Youth Band (N/K): 80/183/177/81 = 521
8. Daylesford Community Brass Band (Jennifer Jordan): 80/177/178/80 = 515
9. Portland Citizens Brass Band (Emma Thompson): 80/178/175/80 = 513

Junior A Grade:

Adjudicator: David Bremner
Set-Work: Platform to the Heavens (Paul Lovatt-Cooper)
Hymn/Test Piece/Own Choice/ Stage March = Total

1. Gunnedah Shire Band (Anthony Rowe): 81/183/182/82 = 528

Junior B Grade:

Adjudicator: David Bremner
Set-Work: Coomber Suite (Darrol Barry)
Hymn/Test Piece/Own Choice/ Stage March = Total

1. Hyde Street Youth Band (N/K): 78/178/175/77 = 508

Junior C Grade:

Adjudicator: David Bremner
Set-Work: Times Passed (for Easy Brass Band) (Alan Fernie)
Hymn/Test Piece/Own Choice/ Stage March = Total

1. North West Junior Brass Band (Peter Johnson): 78/175/176/78 = 507
2. Creswick Youth Brass (Katrina Bird): 74/170/167/70 = 481
3. Hyde Street Junior Band (N/K): 71/166/170/73 = 480
4. Box Hill Academy of Brass (Lauren Innes): 70/168/166/71 = 475

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