Musical history saved

ON SONG: The Whyalla Community Brass Band performing at ANZAC Day.
ON SONG: The Whyalla Community Brass Band performing at ANZAC Day.

More than 100 years of musical history has been saved with a timely grant from the Whyalla City Council.

The Whyalla Community Brass (WCB) group was starting to feel the pressure last year with mounting cost for the non-for-profit organisation.

Fast approaching its 105th anniversary, the brass band may have fallen silent if not for the council’s Community Grants Program.

Putting its application in for a grant in November last year, WCB was approved in January this year ensuring the band not only survived but its gala 105th celebration concert will go ahead in October this year.

“This grant has enabled us to survive and will help with the costs of staging the 105th celebration at the Middleback Arts Centre,” band secretary Reg Warnes said.

“It’s so important for every council to have a town band and we’re glad council believes in what we do.”

The town’s brass band has survived since 1912 while other bands have fallen by the wayside.

The WCB has incorporated the Whyalla Town Band and the Salvation Army Band along the way to be an important community body providing entertainment at many venues as well as official duties such as welcomes and Anzac Day parades.

Moving into the digital age, the WCB has moved with the times to create a website and facebook site with this requiring extra capital for computers while the associated costs of uniforms, stationary and general running expenses keep rising.

The WCB also has a junior band ensuring the future of the town’s band presence.

“We are so grateful to the council, the councillors and the grants community for this grant,” Mr Warnes said.

“We’d like to thank them all for having faith in us and encouraging us.”

Mayor Lyn Breuer was on hand this week to be briefed on the band’s progress towards its anniversary while she also presented two well-deserved life memberships.

Ms Breuer had the honour of handing the life membership badges to 95-year-old Raymond Powell, who is the still the band’s second cornet, and to music director Phillip Babidge who also plays the euphonium.

“This band is really important to the town and it has a long history,” Mayor Breuer said.

“It is wonderful to see the local tradition of the band continue and amazing to see the wide range of ages involved.

“There is an 80-year difference between the oldest and the youngest member of the band.

“Council is so glad the Community Grants Program is able to help and ensure the survival of community groups like this band.”

The WCB 105 Celebration will be held on Saturday, October 21 at the Middleback Arts Centre.

Along with the WCB, which will combine with the Port Lincoln City Band to play as the Whyalla Anniversary Concert Band, there will be a host of guests.

These include the Royal Australian Navy Band, the Kadina Moonta Wallaroo Band, the Whyalla Secondary Schools and Samaritan College stage bands and the Marian City Band.

The Whyalla City Council Community Grants Program has four grant rounds closing in March, June, September and November of each year.

Community grants are afforded to successful applicants to the maximum value of $5000. 

The next Community Grant Progam round closes on Friday, September 1.

The application forms for non-profit community organisations are on the council website and at the front counter at council headquarters.

Further information can be obtained from Whyalla City Council Executive Assistant Michelle Armstrong on 8640 3444.