SALE City Band has returned from its trip to Kiribati.
Former bandmaster Hugh Davies has had a long association with the Pacific nation, after helping to form its first military brass band in 1979.
Mr Davies had intended to send the Sale City Band over to visit for many years, and finally got his wish, with 17 players, aged between nine and 80, heading over.
The band played with the country’s police band and Uniting Church band, and performed at the president’s residence for independence day celebrations.
Sale City Band president Mike Riley said it was an amazing experience, as many people on the island hadn’t heard a brass band play before.
“The police band don’t often do playouts, so it was a new thing,” he said.
“Along the way, we did playouts at three different schools — all of the schools send off a marching group to do the big independence day parade, so I joined in with the bass drum.
“We played at the Australian High Commission for NAIDOC Week, and we also went to a primary school that was funded by Australian aid, so all the dignitaries were there including the High Commissioner.”
Mr Riley said a highlight was playing in the main square in Tarawa, attracting a massive lunchtime crowd.
“An older fellow in the back stood up, he was very animated and talking in their language,” he said.
“I was nervous because I usually go around with the tambourine, to see if anyone wants to have a go — fortunately one of the locals said ‘don’t worry, he’s just really, really happy you came all the way from Australia to play for us’.”
Having the Sale City Band play with the police band was particularly exciting for Mr Davies, who also has family over there.
“Hugh was absolutely rapt, because ever since he started the band in 1979, he’s been wanting someone to go over there to show them what a band can sound like, he’s been trying to get a band over there for all that time,” Mr Riley said.
“There were no music stands or music folders, they were a revelation, so all of that was left behind for them.”
Australia’s High Commissioner to Kiribati, Bruce Cowled, said in a letter the visit was highly appreciated by the locals and the Australian community, and Kiribati’s deputy police commissioner, Atantaake Bureka, added the local band had learnt a lot from the visit.