Getting Brassy with Oakleigh Brass

Oakleigh Brass Anzac Day 2011
Oakleigh Brass Anzac Day 2011

Oakleigh has had a brass band for a very long time! Now known as Oakleigh Brass, a band was first mentioned in 1892 and, with the occasional break, continues to the present day welcoming new players and performing in Oakleigh and surrounding suburbs.

Over the years the band has performed in several venues, including the former Oakleigh Mechanics’ Institute and the former rotunda in Warrawee Park, Oakleigh, and during WWI it ran “picture nights”, bringing silent movies to Oakleigh to raise funds, mainly for the Red Cross. After celebrating 25 years of operation in 1918, the band continued to entertain citizens until the outbreak of WWII in 1939. As in WWI, many band members joined the armed forces and the band went into recession until 1969.

The Newport Railway Workshops Band, which became the Victorian Railways Institute Band after losing the support of the Victorian Railway Commissioners, was in danger of extinction. Through the good offices of the Oakleigh Lions Club and Oakleigh City Council the band was invited to relocate to Oakleigh. Obviously, it was better to inherit a working brass band rather than start from scratch.

The band was renamed the Oakleigh City Band with a mixture of local and former VRI musicians, some of whom are still members. The band has continued to thrive and each year performs at many local and city-wide events including Australia Day celebrations and the Monash Carols by Candlelight. For many years the band has marched in Anzac parades in Melbourne, Altona, Oakleigh and Newport, and in recent times joining with Stonnington City Band to participate in the Melbourne Anzac march. While it no longer competes, the band has in the past achieved the highest level, briefly reaching ‘A’ grade in 1972.

Since its move to Oakleigh, the band has been fortunate in having some very able Musical Directors and supportive committees. Some Musical Directors were Ron Appleton, Kevin Morgan, and Hayden Dinse; the current incumbent is David Keeffe. Each Director has brought his specialist musical knowledge and experience to the Band and its public performances.

Oakleigh Brass prides itself on being a community band and welcomes new members of all ages, both beginners and experienced players. The Welcome Project offers tuition to beginners; an innovation in the world of community music.

Rehearsals are on Monday nights from 8pm to 10pm in the Oakleigh Hall, 142 Drummond Street, next to the Oakleigh Library.
For membership enquiries visit the band’s website: oakleighband.org.au

Oakleigh Brass gives an Annual Concert in October. This year’s concert, “Fly Me to the Moon”, is on Sunday, 20 October, at 2:30pm in St David’s Uniting Church, Drummond Street, Oakleigh. Everyone is welcome.

Barbara Timcke