Keeping Festival Fresh 2016

Any major enterprise must go through a process of self-review and adaptations in order to remain fresh and relevant. Here are some of the innovations that featured at the NZCBA Concert Band Festival in 2016.

New Awards

The 2016 Festival had two new awards.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force Band Award – for an Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble, won by West City Sax Quartet

The Royal New Zealand Navy Band Award – for the winner of Band Competition Category, won by Manukau Concert Band


Competition Category

This optional category was open to bands that received a Gold award at the 2015 Festival in Rotorua. Participating bands were given a set piece (Chroma by Carl Strommen), and were required to play a march and a reflective piece, as well as an “own choice” piece if desired. Four bands chose to participate.

Adjudication took place alongside the existing Gold/Silver/Bronze standards, and resulted in a numeric score, allowing for first/second/third place rankings. The competitive marking also took into account repertoire choice

The top band in the competitive category receives The Royal New Zealand Navy Band Award, and in 2016 the inaugural award went to Manukau Concert Band. Second place went to St Peter’s College Concert Band, and Macleans College Senior Concert Band came third.


Royal New Zealand Airforce Band

In 2016, the opportunity to provide adjudicators, and a concert, was extended to the Royal New Zealand Airforce Band.

The Friday night concert was a spectacular success, attended by around 500 people. A particular crowd favourite was Byron (Buzz) Newton, whose euphonium solo “Carnival Cocktail” was so well-received that he provided an encore, Baadsvik’s famous multiphonic piece “Fnugg”. Their prize of two CDs went to no other than our editor, for her guess that the RNZAF Band had been involved in 500 playouts over the previous year (the official total was 504).

RNZAF band members enjoyed their time adjudicating the bands, as well as solos and ensembles.


Brassbanned Live-streaming

While the 2015 Festival was also live-streamed, it definitely deserves a mention here. People around the world tuned in to the live-stream at various points throughout the weekend.


Power Optional

Certainly one of the new events for 2016 was a region-wide power outage! Inland snow took down power throughout the district. Organisers and musicians rallied magnificently, managing to rejig schedules and rearrange solos to make sure the schedule proceeded as cleanly as possible. Kudos goes to the NZ Youth Symphonic Winds, who played their lunchtime concert in the foyer of the War Memorial Theatre!

It was truly a testament to the adaptability and professionalism of the concert band community, but let’s hope this is one innovation we won’t be repeating!

© Irene Goh, 2016