Nelson brass in silver medal band
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.