Waratah Brass wins 2017 East Coast of Australia Championships

Waratah Brass Members with the East Coast of Australia Championship Trophies

Waratah Brass rejoined the competitive banding world on Sunday June 11th, 2017 competing at the HRBA East Coast of Australia Championships and Festival of the Bands at the Newcastle Conservatorium of Music.

The band presented the Sacred Item: I Know Thou Art Mine by Leonard Ballantine and the Own Choice The Year of the Dragon by Philip Sparke

The band played extremely well after working hard on their selected items and we were proud of our efforts.  The band won the A/B Grade section scoring 46/50 points for the Sacred Item and 95/100 for the Own Choice.

Image Courtesy of Hunter Region Band Association.

After the serious competition in the morning, the band presented a fun entertainment program for the Festival of the Bands:

Valero by James Swearingen (arr Sandy Smith)

Under the Boardwalk by A Resnick and K Young (arr Philip Harper)
Featuring Paul Grice on Flugel Horn

Who Wants To Live Forever by Brian May (arr Philip Harper)

Sparkling Diamonds by Leo Robin, Julie Styne (arr Sandy Smith)

Midwest by Richards (arr Derek Broadbent)

The band played very well and kept the large audience entertained throughout the program.

Waratah Brass Soloists Excel in 2015 Nationals

While the band did not attend the 2015 National Band Championships, a few of our members were on the stage in various capacities.

Greg Bennett played magnificently and became the Australian National Champion in the Eb Tuba.

Greg Bennett National Champion

Not satisfied with just one instrument, Greg also competed in the Open Tenor Trombone placing 5th. However, that was still not quite enough banding for Greg so he also played with the Hunter Wind Ensemble who were the Australian National Champions in the Open C Grade Concert Band section.

David Wilks St Marys Therese Curry St Marys
Therese Curry, David Wilks and part-time member David Kimpton played with St. Mary's District Band competing in the A Grade Brass achieving 4th Place.

David also competed with Castle Hill RSL - North West Wind Ensemble who were the Australian National Champions in the A Grade Concert Band section.

Clarence LeungClarence Leung competed in the Open Cornets achieving 8th Place.

Bob Akerman competed with Toronto Brass who achieved 6th in B Grade Brass.

Hannah Gibbons who is on leave from the band, placed 3rd in Open Tenor Trombone.

We surely know how talented our players are but there is something wonderful about that talent being recognized on the national stage. Congratulations to you all!

Waratah Brass Endorses New Life Members

Stephen Grice, Leonie Wilks, Therese Curry and David Wilks with their life membership plaques

Waratah Brass is proud to announce the endorsement of four new life members: Leonie Wilks, Stephen Grice, David Wilks and Therese Curry.  The new life members were presented with their life membership and commemorative plaque at the recent 130th Anniversary Concert held at Christ Church Cathedral, Newcastle on 16th November, 2014 by Waratah Brass President Rochelle Buckton.

Each member was endorsed following a speech on their history with and contributions to the band (full text of the speeches can be read on the Life Members page.

Review: Waratah Brass 130th Anniversary Concert

Waratah Brass 130th Anniversary Concert: Christchurch Cathedral, Newcastle
Guest Musical Director Mr Ronald Prussing

Sunday 16 November 2014 is a day that will be remembered in the Newcastle region for some time as not many groups or organisations can say that it was the celebration of their 130 year Anniversary. On this occasion it was the elite group of musicians from “Waratah Brass” saying just that.

In the wonderful surroundings and magical acoustics of Newcastle’s Christchurch Cathedral an audience of around 300 attended including previous Waratah Players, past Conductors, people from high echelons of music and business and the many music lovers who have followed the Band some for many years.

Waratah Brass performing Horizons by Paul Lovatt-Cooper

For this major Concert the band invited Mr Ronald Prussing of Sydney Symphony Orchestra fame and former Musical Director 2001 – 2006 to pilot the proceedings. Ron was a wonderful selection as he has great affinity with the band, which obviously hold him in high esteem and he very superbly not only conducted but compered the afternoon as well.

This was a music lovers dream concert with music from all genre’s taken from some of the latest journal to some of the classic works of the Brass Band Movement. What was amazing about this concert is the point that after nearly 2 hours of performing the band still managed to render a major Dvorak Classical work as a last item that had some of the audience on their feet in sheer dismay at what they had just witnessed. This led to not one but 2 encores one being a highlight of the entire Concert   

David Wilks and Waratah Brass performing NapoliHORIZONS (Paul Lovatt-Cooper) was a great opener with some wonderful sounds featuring various soloists of the band. PLC to the fore with a brilliant composition which was quickly followed by MACK AND MABLE (arr. Dr Keith Wilkinson) the 1974 Jerry Herman stage musical transcribed for brass. This overture tests all players and the band came up shining. Good percussion by David Kimpton and Co making this an exciting rendition.

Ron Prussing went to great lengths to then explain that when he was M D his Solo Horn Player was David Wilks who he now found was the Bands Principal Cornet player. David after an introduction to the background of a solo he was to play then with Band rendered NAPOLI (H. Bellstedt arr. Geoffrey Brand) to the great delight of the audience who totally loved it. This was a rendition any player in the world would have been happy with and David Wilks did a fine job.

THE WITCH OF THE WESTMERLANDS (A. Fisher arr. Philip Harper) is a work that transcends the name in that it is unexpected to be such a beautiful flowing hymn like composition. This showed mellow work from a seasoned Solo Baritone player and gorgeous she was. In such a setting as this Cathedral it was indeed a moving sound.

David Kimpton performing Russky-Percussky
This was then followed by what can only be described as a freak work for percussion RUSSKY-PERCUSSKY (Goff Richards) with Percussion Soloist David Kimpton. Not only is the band work a piece of art but the soloist has to play a myriad  of instruments running between each one in break neck speed, this was a sight to see. David thank you for such a great rendition.  The Audience simply enjoyed it 100%.

VITEA ATERNUM (Paul Lovatt-Cooper) was the last work for the first half of this concert and the second of 3 PLC works on this anniversary concert. This was nothing short of musical brilliance. The band excelled in the emotion and tone of the composition and this was indeed a highlight of the afternoon.  Ron Prussing worked the band to its fullest urging each player to give of their best and this clearly showed. A work of total religious significance which the band excelled in bringing forth to the audience. An honour to hear and experience.

Prior to an Interval being held Band President Rochelle Buckton came forth to speak and then made several presentations to band members. 

Retiring from the band:  Graeme Scott, BBb Bass.

Long Service Medals presented to numerous members of the band including Therese Curry for 30 years and David Wilks 40 years.

Life Memberships were bestowed on: Leonie Wilks, David Wilks, Stephen Grice and Therese Curry.

Stephen Grice, Leonie Wilks, Therese Curry and David Wilks with their life membership plaques

STRIKE UP THE BAND (George Gershwin arr. Goff Richards) a now standard of the brass band world made for a great second half opener to this major concert by a wonderful band and was well played.

Therese Curry and Waratah Brass perform Donegal BayAnother solo was then given this time the beautiful DONEGAL BAY (Paul Lovatt-Cooper) by Baritone Soloist Therese Curry. PLC arranged this number reminiscent of an Irish Air for Baritone an instrument now well established as a solo member of brass bands. This was sweet, tuneful and above all well executed. Newly bestowed Life Member Therese was a wonderful soloist in this touching work.

CHARADE (H. Mancini arr. Graham Lloyd) written for a 1963 movie starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn is an Academy Award Nominated theme. This is an amazing arrangement of pure jazz, not to mention being a complex number which the band did well to master.

In a total change to the last number ALL IN THE APRIL EVENING (H.S. Robertson arr. Eric Ball) was a sheer delight to hear  featured in this 130 years Anniversary Concert. This very famous arrangement of Hugh Robertson’s classic mastered by the doyen of Brass “Eric Ball” had total silence at the end showing the respect for this work and its meaning.

Then almost high on the heels of this work finishing we were yet again shown the brilliance of the membership of Waratah Brass in ANNIE LAURIE (A. Prior arr. Dr Keith Wilkinson) bought to us by Principal Trombonist Hannah Gibbons.

Hannah Gibbons performs Annie LaurieThis young lady is an amazing band player and soloist and Waratah are very honoured to have her in its ranks. Today’s solo was nothing short of virtuosic excellence. Precise slide control, superb tonguing, and almost faultless execution of a most difficult Prior composition. Hannah’s trade mark of just walk out from her seat and play, no music was there to the full. Hannah is such a humble person with a wealth of ability and I always enjoy her solo work. Today’s performance was nothing short of exceptional.    

As mentioned at the beginning of this report the final printed work on the Programme for this afternoon was the Antonin Dvorak’s arr. Dr Ray Steadman-Allen MELODIES OF DVORAK.  After a major concert of works Conductor Ron Prussing ended the occasion with such a challenging extended number which is indeed a credit to this great band.

This is music to savour and get your mind around. This is complexity upon complexity with its Classical settings of many of the great Dvorak’s works including his Slavonic Dances and Rhapsodies. Not without its moments for the band this was still a highly respectful rendition of this arrangement by Salvationist Composer Lieut Colonel Dr Ray Steadman-Allen.  This was greatly accepted by the audience with a standing ovation at the conclusion.

From the audience response it was obvious that they wanted more and one wonders what the players had left after such a major concert with several extended works included. Ron Prussing coming to the microphone explained that on Tour to Australia 1988 The Black Dyke Band used a simple hymn to end Concerts. Ron Prussing then married the Issac Watts words “When I surveyed the wondrous Cross” to the Hymn DEEP HARMONY (Handel Parker) and as the band played many were bought to tears. This was worth attending just to hear this number alone. 

The audience still seeking more were given one last item of a romp through Wilfred Heaton’s classic march PRAISE written for a 1949 North American Tour of the International Staff Band. At a quick pace this was still played well and ended an event to remember.

Waratah Brass

This was a wonderful afternoon of music making by what is arguably one of Newcastle and The Hunters best musical ensembles. This band has survived many things in its history including the 2007 “Pasha Bulka” Cyclone that totally destroyed their band hall, most of their music library and many instruments. The band played on as it has done for the last 130 years a credit to both players and officials of the past and present.

Thank you Waratah for the many memories you have given to your audience over the long years you have performed. You have served your Community well and today’s performance was a brilliant display of just what Brass Banding can do in the 21st Century.     

I have waited for this concert for some weeks knowing some of the works to be performed and can truly say this was a pleasure to Review…… Thank you

Review By

16 Nov 2014

Photos © David Jarrett

Waratah Brass Honors Milton Morris AO with Life Membership

Grahame Scott, Milton Morris, Jimmy McNeillWaratah Brass is proud to announce our newest Life Member The Honorable Milton Morris AO.  Mr Morris was presented with his life membership and commemorative plaque at the recent Proms at the Lake concert on 29th September, 2013 by another Waratah Brass Life Member Jimmy McNeill.  Grahame Scott gave a wonderful speech on Mr Morris' life, career and association with the band. 

Milton Morris AO is a most respected politician who represented the Electoral district of Maitland between March 1956 and August 1980. 24 years, which included 10 years as Minister for Transport. He was also Minister for Lands and Minister for Decentralisation and Development at various times.

On his departure from parliament, he was permitted by Queen Elizabeth II, on the Governor's recommendation, to continue to use the title "The Honorable”.   With regard to Honours, in 1988, he became an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for his contribution to politics, youth and the community.

Not one to sit on his afterthoughts, following his retirement Mr Morris has supported the local area by serving with a number of Community based organisations.

Chairman of Hunter Valley Training.
Honorary Chairman of Lewis House Apprentice Hostel, Mayfield
Patron of East Maitland sub branch, Returned Serviceman's League
Patron of Mai Wel Handicapped Association.
Honorary Prefect of Hunter Christian School (formally Mayfield Christian Community School)

And: Patron of Waratah Brass

During the time Milton has been involved with Waratah Brass he has taken a keen interest in the organisation, particularly to do with the training band, Wallsend Youth and Community Brass. As our patron, Milton has been generous in many ways to Waratah Brass and we as an organisation owe much to him, although, he would have none of that!

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