The Nelson City Brass Band defended its C grade title at the New Zealand Brass Band Championships in Wellington.

Brass band hits the right notes

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The Nelson City Brass Band is in line for a promotion after successfully defending its C Grade title at the New Zealand Brass Band Championships in Wellington.

The band convincingly won the Hymn, Set Test and Own Choice Test sections, to win the C Grade aggregate by 12.5 points at the April 22 competition. It is the second consecutive year the band has won the title and now band secretary and baritone player Wayne Jennens says they’ll almost certainly be invited to step up to the B grade competition next year.

“Last year we won and got invited to go up to B grade, but we declined because we wanted another year to consolidate and try and show it wasn’t a fluke,” Wayne says. “Now we know it wasn’t a fluke so there’s a very good possibility that we’ll go up a grade.”

Wayne says that defending their title was harder than winning last year because there was so much more expectation from everyone. The band practised extremely hard leading up to the champs, rehearsing twice a week and at weekends, and then performed well on the day to secure the win.

Although everyone hit the right notes in Wellington, Wayne says the band’s musical director Nigel Weeks was also instrumental in the win. The Nayland College music teacher “got the music out of the music” as he conducted the 30-player band.

“A lot of it was down to our musical director. We have to play the notes on the page but he’s the one who has to shape the music.”

Wayne says the band also secured some individual honours with Logan Ford winning the Junior Cornet solo and Zane Maxwell finishing fourth in the Open Euphonium solo. The band already has Nigel, Steve and Alice Rudhall and John McGough in the National Band of New Zealand, which is heading to the Netherlands to take part in the Brass Band World Championships in July.

Wayne says the only sad note for the band was that its oldest member, 97-year-old  Maurice Abrahams, was unable to attend the national championships “for the first time in ages”.  At the other end of the scale, Jake McNaughton and Natania Ngawhau, both 15, performed well at the champs.

Nelsonians have a chance to listen to the champion band when they play their annual Mother’s Day concert at the Annesbrook Church on Saxton Rd on Sunday May 14. Admission is $15 for adults and $10 each for groups of 10 or more, with all proceeds going towards the “not inexpensive” costs of running the band.

“We need to pay for the purchase and maintenance of instruments and that’s not inexpensive,” Wayne says. “You pay up to $15,000 for a BBb base which is the most expensive instrument, and even a cornet costs $3000.”