Stawell Brass Band strikes right note

STAWELL - The Stawell City Brass Band has undergone some changes in the past 12 months but is still managing to strike the right note with its members and the community alike.

Stawell City Brass Band secretary Josie Joynson said the band has played at many events throughout the year, from the large crowd of the Stawell Gift - to a small art community out at Deep Lead.

"The playing out in the street at the Gift in Stawell always attracts a lot of attention - and also some former players, who travel great distances to both enjoy the Gift celebrations and also to play in their beloved Stawell Band," she said.

"There is no job too big or small the band won't play at."

Other events include the Australia Day Awards, ANZAC celebrations at Great Western and Stawell, Band Sunday (last year was at Dimboola), The Stawell Show, and Christmas playouts at the Stawell Town Hall, Stawell Christmas Parade and Pomonal.

One of the more poignant displays came when the Horsham Salvation Army, Horsham Band and Stawell City Brass Band combined and went to the Horsham Hospital to play outside a window where the conductor of the Horsham Band, Harry John lay in his bed.

Mr John has been a member of the band for more than 70 years. Last year he became ill and was hospitalised.

"The bands played 'Danny Boy', straight out of the script of the movie Brassed Off - it was indeed a special moment," Mrs Joynson said.

"Harry was very touched by this - and it was quite a buzz for us (it must have been a surprise to the patients and staff too!)."

Stawell and Horsham bands frequently combine to help each other out. At the time they also played at the Horsham Floral Festival.

On top of the large number of events the band has seen its fair share of talented names help them along the way.

"Mark Riedl helped out as conductor at the beginning of last year, but his expertise as a multi-skilled musician made it imperative for him to remain playing in the band," Mrs Joynson said.

"Walter Pope assisted with a couple of practices and really fired up the band and we were lucky enough to get the temporary help from Alphonsos Tan.

"During this time the band really gathered some serious momentum in regards to sounding great.

"Sadly, Alphonsus had a contract at a school elsewhere in the state and had to move on."

Ken Agnew has now taken the reins and will continue to conduct into 2014.

The band continues to be the recipient of donations and 2013 was no different with money allowing for the introduction of new hats and also banners.

The hats had the purpose of not only being more modern in appearance, but also to serve as sun-smart.

The banners boosted the smart appearance of the band and have the public's tick of approval, with many commenting on how fantastic they look.

As part of celebrations to mark the end of one year and the beginning of another awards were handed out to recognise members and their efforts.

Josie Joynson and Mark Riedl were named Bandspersons of the Year (Grace Bullen Memorial), Hannah Blight received Junior Player of the Year (Caleb Turner Memorial Trophy) and Declan Fry was awarded the Bardley Mair Memorial Shield.

"The band's numbers have been boosted this year with new members - it is delightful to see a 'renewed' interest in brass band music," Mrs Joynson said.

"New members are always welcome. Musical experience, though appreciated, is not necessary as we have members more than happy to pass on their expertise."

The band encourages everyone to 'like' the Stawell City Brass Band on Facebook.

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