All of our bands have been working extra hard over the past few months to prepare entries for the Australian National Online Festival Of Bands 2021. The festival is replacing the National Band Championships this year because of the uncertainty and unpredictable state border closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. All of the participating bands have prepared video/audio recordings of their performances and submitted them to the festival organisers for adjudication.
The performances will be streamed by BrassBanned over the Easter weekend (April 2-5).
Some of the performances with be streamed as audio only because we weren’t always able to get permission from the music publishers to prepare a video recording. We want to thank the composers, arrangers, and publishers who were generous enough to give us video synchronisation permission free of charge, including Brolga Music, David Stanhope, Etienne Crausaz. Other publishers like Hal Leonard/De Haske gave us permission to stream the videos during the festival, but the versions uploaded to YouTube after the festival will be audio only.
This year Wollongong has submitted entries for 4 bands, and a total of 14 individual pieces of music. Some of our junior members performed in all 4 bands, and have worked very hard to produce some great performances.
The 2021 festival will also mark the debut of the newest band Wollongong has to offer. “Illawarra Brass” was formed in January 2021 to record entries for the festival, bringing together past and present members of the Wollongong brass bands with a few guest performers into an incredibly talented ensemble. The local public were lucky enough to get a sneak peak at the Illawarra Brass debut concert on 7 March, but the rest of the world will have to wait until the BrassBanned live stream. The concert also featured the Wollongong Junior Brass band who played their festival program for the first time in public. It was a great success and a welcome return to live music performance, albeit with a relatively small and appropriately COVID-spaced audience.
We’re excited that all of our hard work will be presented to the world over Easter, and can’t wait to hear what the other bands around Australia have contributed to the festival!
Not everyone is fortunate enough to learn a musical instrument in their early years, but it’s never too late to pick one up and give it a go.
Building on the success of our junior/beginner band programmes, we’re hoping to offer a new opportunity for adult beginners in 2021. Whether you’ve just always wanted to learn and never had time, used to play an instrument at school and let if fall by the wayside, want to learn a second instrument, or just want to catch up to your kids’ level of musical ability, this could be the chance you’ve been waiting for.
We’re still gathering expressions of interest and working out the details, but here’s what we’ve decided so far:
It’ll be for adult beginners, no prior musical experience required.
We’ll teach you how to play and maintain your instrument.
It’ll be great fun!
If you’re interested, contact us or come along to the kick-off meeting at 6:00pm on Friday 29 January 2021 at the Woonona High School Hall (entry at the end of Nicholson Rd, Woonona). Please bring a face mask in case the weather demands that we meet inside and COVID restrictions are still in force.
Our bands have been working hard over the past few months to prepare entries for the NSW State Band Festival. In a “normal” year we would have been performing live at The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre for the State Band Championships, but the challenges of COVID-19 moved the 2020 event to an online festival. Bands from across the country prepared audio/video recordings of their performances, and Brassbanned “live” streamed them over the weekend.
The effort we put in paid off, each of our bands achieved podium finishes in their respective categories.
Open D Concert
Open D Brass
Open C Brass
Special thanks to our Musical Directors Leanne Walton, Des Cannings, and Kevin Skues for pulling together great performances from the bands!
It’s Spring 2020, and to mark the occasion the Senior Brass Band broke out their best/craziest hats at this week’s rehearsal. Maybe we’re anticipating outdoor rehearsals and performances as the weather starts to warm up?
We’ve got plenty to celebrate, having kept the bands running through isolation via online rehearsals, then to “in real life” rehearsals at a larger venue to accommodate increased distance between players. We rehearsed on some pretty cold and windy nights through winter, with the doors of the hall wide open for flow-through ventilation. After that experience it’s fair to say that everyone is looking forward to some warmer weather!
You can also see our instrument bell covers in the photos. Bell covers are now compulsory for all players after research showed that brass instruments with bell covers emit far fewer aerosols than talking. The covers make surprisingly little difference to the sound of the band, but add a lot of safety.
We’ll keep doing everything we can to keep things safe for our players and Musical Directors, and look forward to being able to put COVID-19 behind us!
It’s become clear that holding any sort of concert while COVID-19 transmission is possible would present significant challenges for both the audience and our bands. We’ve decided to cancel the remaining concerts and events that were planned for 2020 and set our sights on 2021.
The COVID-19 situation changes daily, of course, so we’ll be updating our plans regularly.
We’re planning on participating in the BANSW “State Band Festival Online” event, so keep an eye out for that. Since it’s not feasible to run the State Band Championships “live” this year, bands will be recording their pieces (with video) and the performances will be “live streamed” by brassbanned.com over the weekend of November 14/15. It won’t be quite the same as “being there”, but it’ll be great to see what all the bands around NSW have been up to and celebrate what’s been achieved under difficult circumstances.
It finally seems that there is some light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, and with the relaxation of restrictions on gatherings by the NSW Government we’re starting to contemplate a phased return to face-to-face rehearsals.
Our immediate priority is maintaining safety for our players, and we’re working on setting up the band hall for the new rehearsal structure. You can access a copy of our COVID-19 Safety Plan below.
Special thanks go from the bands to all of our Musical Directors for their efforts keeping rehearsals going remotely, it’s been a long haul, and online meeting platforms still have a long way to go before they’re usable for music.