Alan Wilkie was the foundation conductor of Brisbane Brass and was one of the most well respected people in the brass band movement. Under Alan’s guidance, Brisbane Brass was taken to great heights. Our library proudly boasts arrangements from Alan’s pen. We are still performing these monumental arrangements and they prove his talent was immense. There are lots of stories where Alan is involved. He had the ability to encourage people to strive to their best. In rehearsals, he would scratch his head in annoyance and chant one of his favourites “you are not a little bit behind, you are in another building!” Alan passed away suddenly in 1999 at the age of 58. In November 2000, Brisbane Brass celebrated Alan’s life with two concerts fittingly titled “The Magic of Alan Wilkie”.
Our Founding President, Cliff Nichols, began his banding career at the age of 4 when he acted as mascot for the Nambour band in which his father was a cornet player. It was over 60 years ago that Cliff won the novice champion in Ipswich and he has gone on to win 20 state euphonium championships and has won the most Champion of Champions events for any person in the last century.
Cliff was also the first winner of the prestigious Ern Keller Memorial trophy in 1974. The banding movement is indebted to Cliff for the tremendous contribution he has made. Cliff retired from the role of President in 2013 but his assured Euphonium sound is still heard ringing out in our C Grade Band.
John Wilson is a Brisbane Brass institution. He may be a quintessential quartermaster and a peerless provider but above all is simply another deeply committed contributing member of the association. After retiring from the Senior Band where he had played Baritone for more yonks than most of us can remember, John spent a couple of years as heaven forbid, a non playing member. The lure to play proved too strong however and after Best Of Brass in Maryborough 2006 John looked in the shed, pulled out an Eb Bass and took his place in the back of Brisbane Brass 3.
A born performer; John holds the distinction of “funniest line in rehearsal” at the 2007 Qld Championships in Bundaberg with a few words that cracked the band up entirely and put them in a relaxed mood to perform an easygoing “Hasllemere Suite” to help secure the highest aggregate and a barnstorming “Aces High” to take out the Stage March title. John’s 60 years of devotion to the brass band movement is one which we all greatly acknowledge.
Jack Haskins, originally a member of the South Brisbane Federal Band did not play an instrument. He was a member of that band’s committee and a staunch supporter of the band. In 1972 a number of the players resigned from this band. These fellows, seven in all, decided to form a new band which eventually became the South Eastern District RSL Band. Jack was very active in the formation of this band and to help get the band off the ground purchased two tubas on hire purchase from Palings.
The band eventually paid Jack back but it took some time. When Perc Deighton retired as band librarian, Jack took over and continued in the position for many years. Jack was a very willing worker for the band right up ot the time of his passing. He never played an instrument but loved brass bands. There are very few people in the brass band movement like Jack Haskins, he was always available for working bees, saw jobs that needed to be done and just did them, he served on the committee for many years and is one of the few people who has helped in the a very positive way to make our association what it is today. Jack was awarded life membership of Brisbane Brass.
My first exposure to brass banding occurred in the mid-1970s when I was courting my wife Ann. Ann’s father, Cliff Nichols, was heavily involved in brass banding at the time and still is. When I finally finished studying in 1985, I became more involved in the brass band scene by attending the occasional brass band concert and competition. It was in 1992, however, that my life forever changed when I became a member of the management committee. In the years that have followed Brisbane Brass has continued to grow musically and numerically. This has been due to many factors. These include:
- The foresight and proactiveness of our founding fathers in purchasing in 1985 the freehold of the property which is our band hall. The property is mortgage and debt free. This has provided us with a stable home and a solid foundation, enabling us to grow into the formidable music association that we are today. The sheer determination of successive management committees to advance the cause of brass banding, their single-minded commitment to attracting and developing young brass musicians and promoting them through the ranks. The appointment of talented and dedicated musical directors who have remained loyal and committed to our association and its objectives for long periods of time.
- The continuing quest for musical excellence through public performances and competition has also been a contributing factor to the success of our association.
- In reality, however, everyone in our association has had a part to play in our success – the musicians, the musical directors, the management committee, the mums and dads and other supporters. It is this family focus and willingness to help others that I find particularly attractive about our association. We are not just a band. We are a family. Whereas not all family members are expected to share identical views, we as a family are united in working together in harmony for the betterment of our association and the brass band movement.
My involvement with Brisbane Brass started back in 1989, when my eldest daughter Elizabeth joined Brisbane Junior Brass under the baton of Jeff Herbert and then Greg Aitken. This was shortly followed by daughter Jennifer in 1991, daughter Stephanie in 1993 and son Jonathan in 1999. All four of my children were taught to play a brass instrument by their Grandfather Cliff Nichols and it’s no wonder they have followed in his footsteps with a love of brass music and brass bands. At some stage over the last 27 years, all my children have played in Brisbane Brass in the A, B, C, D or Junior Bands.
As with all successful Associations, there always has to be members to help carry the load. I remember initially just helping my husband Ken Jeffrey, who was the Secretary of the Association in 1993, typing up member’s details, instrument lists, accommodation and camp information, general forms, helping out on canteen duties, etc and before long I inevitably ended up on the Management Committee as a Committee Member.
Greg was appointed musical director of Brisbane Brass in 1998 following the retirement and untimely death of the late great Alan Wilkie. At the time of his appointment, Greg was one of the youngest Musical Directors of an A Grade Brass Band in Australia and recognised as an exceptional musician in his own right. Greg was the 2001 open tenor trombone Champion of Australia. In the same year Greg performed with the Glossop Band in the British Open Championship in Birmingham, England and toured the Southern States of Australia with one of the world’s great Brass Bands, the Grimethorpe Colliery Band.
In 2002 Greg again competed in the British Open, on this occasion with the Carlton Main Frickley Colliery Band and in 2006 Greg participated in the European Brass Band Championships in Belfast, Northern Ireland with the Leyland Band. Greg’s love affair with Brisbane Brass began in 1990 when he became the musical director of Brisbane Junior Brass . He led the band to a D Grade whitewash at Nambour a year later, saw the band win the Junior Grade Brass Band State Championship in Toowoomba in 1994, and the following year proudly saw the members crowned National Open D Grade Champions of Australia. This was the first national championship ever won by Brisbane Junior Brass since its formation in 1984.
Bill has been principal euphonium with Brisbane Brass since January 2001. An instrumental teacher with Education Queensland, Bill began his career in brass bands with the Toowoomba Municipal Band at the age of twelve on Eb bass and was a 15-year-old bass player when Brisbane Junior Brass (to become Brisbane Brass 2) was formed on 22 May, 1984. This foundation member attended the band’s first rehearsal and turned 16 the same week. Over the next four years, Bill also played with Brisbane Brass A Grade Band and became musical director of the newly formed Brisbane Junior Brass II. At the age of 20, Bill was living in the band hall and paying for his keep as the hall’s caretaker. He also holds the distinction of attending both the first rehearsal in the Stafford Road premises and the last in February 2009 when the hall was vacated after resumption for the Airport Link project. After completing his Diploma of Music at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music in 1988, Bill moved to Gladstone and worked as a brass/percussion instrumental instructor with Education Queensland.
Upon returning to Brisbane in 2001 with his wife Linda, son Alex and daughter Imogen, Bill built our 3rd band into an almost invincible D Grade operation and led our youngsters to contest success as the only competing Junior Brass Band in QLD at the time. It is Bill’s friendly manner and musical expertise that allowed so many children to feel nurtured in the Brisbane Brass environment and led to the healthiest ranks the band has ever enjoyed.