Although we cannot verify the exact date, it is believed The West Tamar Municipal Band Inc. started life back in the 1870s as the Beaconsfield Brass Band. In fact, the earliest reference we can find was that the Beaconsfield Brass Band led a town procession for the Beaconsfield Community Picnic on Boxing Day in 1880. Interestingly, back in those days Beaconsfield was an important gold mining town and the third largest in Tasmania.
Throughout the years, the Beaconsfield Brass Band has continued to progress and as with all community-based groups has undergone its fair share of ups and downs and good and bad times. Over the years, there have been at least two periods of recess which saw membership dwindle. Yet in more prosperous times the Band would be bursting at the seams with lots of local musicians ready and willing to take up their instruments and play.
The band has, throughout its history, played at community and charitable events, whether they be regular weekend picnics in the early days at Inspection Head, Beauty Point or for Anzac Day services, Australia Day events or Carols by Candlelight at Christmas time. Performing for the community and entertaining the public was then, and continues to be the primary motivation for the band’s existence and central to its operating charter.
In 1993, to coincide with the change of name of the Beaconsfield Council to the West Tamar Council, the band also changed its name to the West Tamar Municipal Band and the incumbent Mayor was asked to be Patron of the band. The current Mayor Cr. Christina Holmdahl and the West Tamar Council fully support the band and we are very grateful for their ongoing interest.
Over the life of the band, we have performed at events large and small, and in more recent times performed in and won several state titles at band championships. Whilst our roots may be local and home-grown, we have continued to perform around the state including Queenstown, Strahan, Richmond, Huonville, Hobart, St Helens, George Town and many more regional towns. In fact, in 2010 the West Tamar Municipal Band was officially recognised and honoured by being presented with the “Community Group of the Year” award.
Today, the West Tamar Municipal Band continues to regularly perform at events such as Music in the Park which is a community-based initiative of the Launceston City Council, held in the City Park Rotunda each January; Australia Day celebrations; Anzac Day ceremonies and the Woolmers Festival of Roses each November. We also give numerous concerts in churches and halls throughout the West Tamar and Launceston areas. To meet the needs of clients who would like to hire the West Tamar Band but do not require the ‘full complement’ of 35 musicians, we have established an ensemble of players for such occasions as weddings, cocktail parties and private functions.
Recent years have seen a strong resurgence in The West Tamar Municipal Band and it has continued to grow in size and scope. The band now boasts active membership of some 35 local musicians and continually strives to maintain its relevance in an ever-changing marketplace as it entertains audiences of all ages. Under the tutelage and guidance of Musical Director David Potter, ex-Royal Australian Air Force Band (French Horn) and piper with St Andrews Caledonian Pipe Band, the West Tamar Municipal Band continues to grow, evolve and prosper. As such, the music performed by the band continues to broaden both in genre and complexity as we seek to offer our audiences a repertoire that is entertaining, recognisable, relevant and captivating.
Contrary to what most people believe, most brass bands do not play just ‘hymns and marches’ any more. We have adapted to what we believe our audiences want to hear and include a varied and diverse spectrum of music to entertain all ages. We certainly play some traditional hymns and marches, but also everything from jazz to movie themes to pop songs. To achieve a sound that pleases everyone, we have added vocalists to our line-up and they sing a variety of songs accompanied by the band. We also perform with St Andrews Caledonian Pipe Band on many occasions, as audience members love the stirring sound of pipes and brass together.