“A throwback to years gone by, when every local park had a bandstand and every Sunday you would hear the local band playing for the community”
Community bands from across Victoria descended on Melbourne’s Federation Square on 18 October for the inaugural BandStand Sunday. Music Australia Councillor Jeremey de Korte reports that this event, Organised by the Victoria Bands League, revives the wonderful tradition of bands in public spaces for community enjoyment.
On Sunday the 18th of October, the Victorian Bands’ League (VBL) presented the inaugural ‘BandStand Sunday’ event at the iconic Federation Square in the center of Melbourne. The day aimed to give as many community brass and concert bands as possible the chance to play at this venue, and to showcae what community bands are all about. Participating came from all over Melbourne and country Victoria, while the audience was made up of whoever stopped to listen in the square when bands were playing. By all accounts from bands and band members, audience, and organisers, the day was judged to be a huge success, and it was also blessed by the weather gods!
Based on history, the event the VBL presented is nothing new for community bands, but it is a type of event that hasn’t been run for a very long time. History tells us that most bands played at local bandstands or halls on regular occasions, some of them every week for devoted audiences. At certain times during the year, bands from all over Victoria would present coordinated concerts with the aim of helping a charity such as the Hospital Fund. These events were written up in local newspapers with times and locations of local bands listed.
As alluded to in the opening quote, the VBL BandStand Sunday event was based on past activities, but very much brought into the future. Bands from across the state reacted very enthusiastically to the invitation issued by the VBL, and playing times were allocated by the VBL Executive Council. The end result was the VBL was able to showcase a full program of bands from 10am – 6pm with rotations every half hour. Obviously, the fact that Federation Square was the ‘bandstand’ was a major incentive for bands to seek an invitation. During the event, members of the VBL Executive Council also found time to keep up a rolling coverage of photos and commentary on social media.
Bands came from across Melbourne and country Victoria, and for most bands this was a new and exciting performance opportunity. The Conductor of the Daylesford Community Brass Band noted during the performance that her band hadn’t performed in Melbourne for thirty-one years. The Haddon Concert Band, based in the town of Haddon 15km west of Ballarat, were very excited to be performing in front of very large audience. Both the Warragul Municipal Band and the City of Greater Bendigo Brass Band made the trip to Melbourne and gave sterling performances. The Sale City Band from Eastern Gippsland travelled over three hours to reach Melbourne, yet arrived early enough to hear other bands, and proudly performed from 5.30pm, their last item being the “Gippsland” march.
Community bands from around metropolitan Melbourne also participated, including two bands that gained top placing in their sections at the August State Band Championships. It was wonderful to hear Victoria’s top A grade brass band, Darebin City Brass – Preston Band perform. And it was during Darebin’s performance where the crowd was at its peak of over 800! Metropolitan concert bands were well-represented with the Southern Area Concert Band from Moorabbin, and the Casey Concert Band from Berwick performing, along with other regional concert bands from Haddon & the Ballarat Memorial Concert Band. Metropolitan brass bands that performed included bands from Mornington, Heidelberg, Oakleigh and Stonnington (Malvern).
Of note was a performance by the famous Hyde Street Youth Band whose playing did not reflect the age of band members. Hyde Street Youth Band are reputed for being the oldest continuous youth band in Australia, formed in 1928 as the Hyde Street State School brass band. The future of bands lies in the young, and it was wonderful to see Hyde Street present such a fine performance.
Federation Square was a lively venue all day with much of the audience enjoying stunning weather to listen to one band, or many bands. On average, about 400 people were listening to each performance with audience numbers growing slightly in the afternoon. It was generally noted that many people stayed to hear a number of performances, and certainly people took advantage of talking to VBL Executive Council members who were manning the information table. People were also quite interested in obtaining information flyers provided by the bands, and one enterprising band brought boxes of their Centenary Commemoration CD’s which were given away for free.
Based on this event, one might ask what opportunities does it offer community bands in Victoria and the VBL? Certainly the whole day was a huge success with supportive feedback received from bands, audience, and organizers. The VBL is eager to hold a similar event again as we believe that it showcases Victoria’s community bands to a much wider audience, with the aim of helping people seek out their local community bands for concerts or even joining as a musician. Upon further reflection there is scope for expanding the event to two a year and/or into regional towns.
Much thanks for organising the day belongs to a member of the VBL Executive Council, Mr Brenton Burley who somehow found time to put it all together, and to other VBL Executive Council members who attended throughout the day. The VBL would also like to thank Federation Square for hosting the event, to Yamaha and Fine Music for the loan of percussion instruments, and to Moonee Valley Brass Band for the loan of chairs and music stands.
And lastly, thank you to all the Victorian bands who supported the event and made the day so worthwhile.
Visit the Victorian Bands’ League site here.
Ballarat Memorial Concert Band: http://ballaratconcertband.org.au
Casey Concert Band: http://www.caseyconcertband.org
City of Greater Bendigo Brass Band: http://www.bendigobrass.org.au
Darebin City Brass – Preston Band: http://www.darebincitybrass.com/bands/preston-band/
Daylesford Community Brass Band: http://www.daylesfordbrass.org.au
Haddon Community Concert Band: http://www.artsatlas.com.au/hccb/
Heidelberg Brass Band: https://www.facebook.com/Heidelberg-Brass-Band-328118547344407/
Hyde Street Youth Band: http://hsyb.org.au
Mornington Youth & Citizens Band: http://mycband.org.au
Oakleigh City Band: http://oakleighband.org.au
Sale City Band: http://salecityband.com.au/home/
Southern Area Concert Band: http://sacb.com.au/index.shtml
Stonnington City Brass: http://www.stonningtoncitybrass.org.au/SCBJoomla/
Warragul Municipal Band: http://www.warragulband.org
Fine Music: http://www.finemusiconline.com.au
Yamaha Music: http://au.yamaha.com