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Our Brass Past

FOR MORE THAN 120 years, town or brass bands have consistently made music, sweet music in the picturesque open-air locations of Darwin. The NT’s first town band kicked off in 1895 in the Darwin area, then known as Palmerston.

By Tierney Seccull

Brass bands traditionally, and still are, a community band. Everyone’s a volunteer, except perhaps the musical director, and anyone is welcome to join – whether you know how to play an instrument or not.

These days, the Darwin City Brass Band (DCBB) has proudly continued this tradition, performing music for the community at a wide range of free events, from ANZAC Day parades to pop-up performances by the sea. An exciting event this month celebrates the wonderful contribution of town bands, past and present.

Held in the iconic historical setting of Mines House, Band at the Top features a dinner and show by Darwin’s much-loved community band. The idea for this special event came about when the National Trust reached out to suggest a concert in the historic Myilly Point Heritage Precinct.

“We did a concert for them towards the end of last year for one of their afternoon tea events, and we sent them a bit of information on brass bands in the Top End. The National Trust didn’t realise brass bands had been around Darwin since 1895, so they were interested in it,” says DCBB President, Bill Buckley.

“Every year, they do a special feature on something. And they said, ‘oh look, would you do a bit of a feature with us on that band history?’ So that’s how it started, it was really initiated by the National Trust people, all as a result of one of our free concerts.”

Working with actual playlists dating back to 1895, the band, under the baton of Musical Director Craig McGiffen, presents a program of music played by the respective town bands over the past 120 plus years. The event also reflects on our war history with ‘Two to Ten’ – a special world premiere penned by Melbourne-based youth freelance composer, Jared McCunnie.

“We’ve commissioned a work to coincide with the 80th anniversary of, not just the Bombing of Darwin, but the attacks on Northern Australia in World War II,” Buckley says.

“Darwin did get bombed, and so did other places, including Katherine, Broome – right across the north we copped it for two years, so it’s really commemorating those two years of war in North Australia.”

As you experience the sounds of this beloved brass band, and reflect on our war history, you’re treated to some tasty fare. Tuck into roast pork and veggies, or opt for the fish, and top it off with a sweet brownie or classic pav. There’s also an onsite bar for a cheeky tipple or two, and everyone’s encouraged to dress up – take your pick from any era since 1985!

This is set to be one magical, unique experience, not to be missed. Immerse yourself in this wonderful historical event, and sneak a glimpse into our brilliant past of brass.

Band at the Top
COST $55

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