Nelson brass in silver medal band

The Leader (Nelson) - - FRONT PAGE - JES­SICA LONG

The ‘‘All Blacks’’ of brass bands has re­turned from the World Mu­sic Con­test in Hol­land with silver af­ter com­pet­ing against the best bands in Europe.

The Na­tional Band of New Zealand with 35 of the coun­try’s best play­ers at­tended the Kerkrade event in July and achieved the podium re­sult at the Cham­pi­onship Grade com­pe­ti­tion. Six of those mem­bers were Nel­so­ni­ans.

The event is held ev­ery four years and in 2009 the Kiwi group came away with fourth place. But this year they ‘‘de­cided to have an­other crack’’ at the top plac­ings.

Na­tional Band of New Zealand prin­ci­pal tenor horn Mike Ford said sec­ond was a ‘‘fan­tas­tic achieve­ment’’ which in­volved play­ing over two days.

Ford said the ma­jor­ity of the band were ‘‘ama­teurs ... like the All Blacks be­fore they went pro­fes­sional’’ but they also had mem­bers who had ca­reers as mu­si­cians.

The band was se­lected from the best of New Zealand’s play­ers who spent the 18 months be­fore the event prac­tic­ing and per­form­ing around the coun­try, Hong Kong and Europe.

On the first day of the compe- tition the band was re­quired to play Trac­ing Time, a 22-minute piece writ­ten by Swiss com­poser Oliver Wae­spi. The piece used the full range of the in­stru­ments and had fast suc­ces­sions to test the en­sem­ble.

‘‘It was a pretty dif­fi­cult work ac­tu­ally,’’ Ford said.

But with three months of prac­tice be­hind them the Ki­wis ’’nailed the parts’’.

On day two they played for 40 min­utes. That in­cluded a 15-minute piece writ­ten es­pe­cially for the New Zealand team by Scot­tish com­poser Peter Gra­ham, called the 39th Par­al­lel.

‘‘We knew we’d played re­ally well it all came to­gether re­ally well. The band just got bet­ter and bet­ter,’’ he said.

‘‘There were prob­a­bly mi­nor blem­ishes, we no­ticed within the band, but ... it was prob­a­bly the best band I’ve ac­tu­ally played in to be fair.’’

When asked how it felt be called the brass band equiv­a­lent of the All Blacks, Ford joked it was a shame they didn’t get the same fund­ing.

The World Mu­sic Con­test goes for a month and in­cludes a va­ri­ety of mu­si­cal dis­ci­plines.

‘‘It’s kind of like the Olympics of the mu­sic world,’’ Ford said.

Mem­bers of the Na­tional Band of New Zealand cel­e­brate their sec­ond plac­ing at the World Mu­sic Con­test in Hol­land.

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