History of Blue Mountains Concert Band

The Lower Blue Mountains Concert Band was founded in 1983.

Early in 1983 the Blue Mountains Gazette reported the formation of a community concert band in the lower Blue Mountains, an outcome arising in part from the success of the Glenbrook Public School band at the Opera House concert organised by the Department of Education in the previous year.  The bandmaster at Glenbrook Public School, Mr Ron Mallett, felt strongly that the young musicians in the school band should have the opportunity to develop their musicianship by rehearsing and performing with senior instrumentalists.

The first rehearsal of Lower Blue Mountains Community Band was in March 1983, and within a few weeks 30 past and present school band members had joined. A $200 Blue Mountains City Council grant helped buy music stands. Initially, rehearsals were held at Glenbrook Public School, then Lapstone Scout & Guide Hall. In August 1994, the band moved to St Andrew’s Uniting Church hall at Glenbrook, its present rehearsal venue.

Just four months after its formation, LBMCB joined with Warrimoo Chorale to present its first public performance at the 1983 Glenbrook Creative Arts and Crafts Fair. The band played ten items including: Chariots of Fire, Cabaret, Fiddler on the Roof, The Entertainer, and Amazing Grace. This event became the Glenbrook Village Fair, at which the band has performed every year since.

LBMCB grew and performed at community events across NSW.

In 1985, as part of International Youth Year, LBMCB was invited to perform as the guest band at the Orange Festival of the Arts. They joined Blue Mountains and Lithgow City Bands, Orange City Industrial Band and the Orange Police Boys Junior Band to play at the Orange Civic Centre and in Robertson Park. In that same year, the band performed several concerts, including at Springwood Hospital fete and Glenbrook Centenary Fair.

By 1990 the band had gained recognition as a significant local community organisation. In addition to town fairs in the lower Mountains, the band performed at many and varied local community events including Blaxland/Glenbrook RSL Anzac services and Carols by Candlelight services, and further afield at Canberra’s Floriade. In 2001 the band changed its name to Lower Blue Mountains Concert Band Inc.

In Easter 2002, the band travelled to Broken Hill to the Year of the Outback Band Festival & Military Tattoo. Competing against interstate bands, LBMCB won the Concert Band section of the contest and was invited to perform at the Gala Concert in the Broken Hill Entertainment Centre.

A 'Juniors' band was formed in 2002, which later became Mountains Youth Band.

It was clear by the Broken Hill concert that the band had changed. Its membership now consisted mostly of adult players, with a growing number of talented youth performers. The idea of developing a junior division for the band had been considered during the Broken Hill trip and in May 2002, the Lower Blue Mountains Concert Band Juniors was formed. It was felt the future of the band, and its charter to provide community service, lay in the development of a younger membership.

The junior band was launched on Sunday 18 August 2002 under the musical direction of Matthew Gately. The group commenced rehearsals with just twelve members, and, by the end of the year, membership had increased to 25. In its first year the junior division performed numerous concerts and eisteddfods, including Springwood Foundation Day, Penrith Eisteddfod, the NSW Band Championships and at Sydney’s Darling Harbour.

In May 2006 the junior band changed its name to Mountains Youth Band. The following year, under the baton of Garry Clark, the band was awarded First Place at the Bathurst Eisteddfod, Hawkesbury Eisteddfod, and NSW Concert Band Championships Junior C Division. In the same year, the band performed its first Holiday Celebration Concert at the Q Theatre, Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, Penrith.

In 2009, Mountains Youth Band achieved national recognition when it was awarded Champion Band at the Australian National Concert Band Championships (Junior C). The band travelled to Hobart in the following year and successfully defended this title. These successes established Mountains Youth Band as the premier youth community concert band in Sydney’s western region. Mountains Youth Band has performed numerous outstanding concerts, and was recognised by the NSW Government with a development grant of $10,000 in 2009.

The impact of Mountains Youth Band has been significant with many instrumentalists progressing to University to study music, or performing with prestigious Sydney ensembles. However it is the camaraderie and development of musicianship that highlights the contribution this band has made to many young people, and the opportunity for engagement with the Arts experienced by the players, their families and the wider community.

Becoming the Blue Mountains Concert Band

In June 2002, the adult band section of Lower Blue Mountains Concert Band entertained Blue Mountains audiences with a presentation of A Tribute to the Music of Brassed Off. Conducted by Richard Bournes, an augmented band performed two concerts of music from the hit British film, followed by screenings of the movie at Glenbrook Cinema. The band maintained its rehearsal and performance schedule with a small and dedicated group of instrumentalists. At about the same time, another adult music group, the Mountains Wind Ensemble, was also performing at fetes and concerts in the local area. Their conductor was Garry Clark, well known for his successful band programs in Sydney’s Hills District.

In May 2005, the Lower Blue Mountains Concert Band adult division amalgamated with the Mountains Wind Ensemble. This ensured the viability of a strong local concert band for rehearsals, performances and social activities. The membership has been augmented in recent years, with some members of Mountains Youth Band graduating and joining the adult band, and some parents of youth band members and other interested community members dusting off old instruments and returning to ensemble playing, some after many decades of absence. The strength in numbers, development of skills and range of instruments has allowed a more diverse repertoire to be enjoyed and the chance for the adult band to compete at eisteddfods and perform major concerts.

Enter the Blue Mountains Jazz Ensemble

In order to provide an opportunity for instrumentalists to develop their skills in jazz, the creation of a jazz ensemble was suggested in 2008. Auditions were held and talented adult and junior band members formed Blue Mountains Jazz Ensemble, under the direction of Tim Coggins. The group provides an opportunity for band members to experience a diverse repertoire of jazz and swing music, and the highly accomplished group is already in great demand.

The jazz ensemble has performed at the Leura Gardens Festival and Winter Magic Festival as well as numerous private functions and outdoor gigs. They delight all audiences with their variety of items and smooth sound, and their appearance at the combined concerts with Blue Mountains Concert Band and Mountains Youth Band is a huge drawcard.

The First Thirty Years...

Blue Mountains Concert Band Inc. is now recognised as a significant local organisation, contributing at many levels to the community. The band regularly supports local Anzac Day services, and community fairs and events. In the recent few years, all three divisions have combined to present outstanding concerts, showcasing the growing strength of the organisation and the musical talent and dedication of all instrumentalists in the band, and of our musical directors, Garry Clark and Tim Coggins.

For thirty years, this organisation has contributed to the Blue Mountains and wider community, and has engaged a significant number of people of all ages with the Arts, through their participation as performers with the band, or through their enjoyment as members of the appreciative audiences.