2005 Victory Dinner

Victory Dinner
Saturday 7th May 2005
Mercure Hotel
85-87 North Quay Brisbane

Bandsman of the Year – Brad James being presented with the trophy by MD Howard Taylor

The evening was set – dinner suits, cocktail dresses, fine food and wine, the Fireman’s helmet and 86 distinguished looking bandsmen and their spouses and partners, dignitaries, special guests and friends.

The inaugral Brisbane Excelsior Dinner Dance was a fantastic night which will hold memorable moments for many people. The evening, which will be an annual event as a Presentation Dinner, was held to celebrate the recent National Championships win. People in attendance included the band members and their spouses and partners, a patron of Brisbane Excelsior – Dr Dan O’Donnell and his wife Marion, the President of the NBCA – Geoff Fry and his partner Jean, the President of the QBA – Dr Noel Cassels and his wife Karen, special guests from the Brisbane City Council, 6 Life members of the Association, Barrie and Paula Gott, the Marching Girls, and many of our “Friends of Excelsior”.

Master of Ceremonies for the Evening was Mr Trevor Stanley who opened the evening and welcomed everyone to the event in fine style. Barrie Gott led the guests in a pre-dinner prayer and the evening progressed from there.

Following dinner, President Rick Casagrande, delivered the Presidential address to the guests. This speech, delivered together with a slide show prepared by Amanda Casagrande, was very moving in places and covered many aspects of the events and history leading up to XLCR’s victory this year. A copy of the speech can be downloaded here.

Musical Director, Howard Taylor, then presented the awards for the evening. Past cups won by the Brisbane Excelsior Band dating back to the early 1900’s were used as trophies for the individual awards. Recipients of the awards were as follows:

* Most Improved Player: Ben McLeod
* Best Section: The Horns (Steve Ridler, Amanda Casagrande, Samantha MacIntyre & Imelda Moore)
* Player’s Player (voted by the band members): Ashley Gittins
* Best Bandsman: Brad James

A presentation was also made to Howard Taylor from the bandsmen in appreciation of his leadership.

Following the formal part of the evening, dancing and general socialising mixed with a little bit of drinking (more for some than others!) followed. Thanks go to Julie Woods, ably assisted by her husband John, for providing the music for this.

Special thanks must go to Meg Fixter who co-ordinated the evening and also to those who donated prizes for the raffles and door prize – Edmund Park Outdoor Centre, Cathy from Cinque Hair Design, Mercure Hotel and Charlie from Castlemaine Perkins.

Five Individual National Champions

Ashley Gittins 2005 Australian National Champion of Champions

For the second year in a row, Ashley Gittins has won the Australian Euphonium Championship and has, this year, gone on to win the Champion of Champions. Playing Philip Sparkes “Party Piece”, Ashley treated the audience including many of his collegues to two outstanding musical performances – entirely from memory.

In the Champion of Champions, Ashley had stiff competition in the form of 3 other Excelsior players who had also won their individual events – Dale Hosking (Soprano), Bernard Denlay (Bass Trombone) and Rick Casagrande (Bb Bass).

In the Junior Champion of Champions, Excelsior were also represented by Imelda Moore. Imelda won the Junior Tenor Horn Championship and was awarded 99 points by adjudicator, Barrie Gott.

Other soloists to perform included:
Steve Ridler – 2nd Open Tenor Horn
Amanda Casagrande – 2nd Open Flugel Horn
Stuart Bent – 3rd Open Tenor Trombone
Brad Hosking – 3rd Open Baritone
Rodney Everitt – Open Bb Cornet
Brent Hoy – Open Bb Cornet
Lyndon Weise – Open Bb Cornet
Allan Lonergan – Open Eb Bass
Imelda Moore – Open Tenor Horn
Brenden Wheeler – Open Euphonium

Brisbane Excelsior crowned National Champions

Brisbane Excelsior and its Musical Director, Howard Taylor, won every event at the Australian National Championships in Adelaide. With near perfect scores in all 5 events, adjudicators Kevin Jarrett and Barrie Gott both independently thanked XLCR for providing them with performances that rated as one of the finest musical experiences they have heard………” the winning band’s performance of ‘Tristan Encounters’ was better than the top three performances from the 2004 NZ Championships and equal to any band in the world”. (Kevin Jarrett)

The bands performance of Paganini Variations left not only many of the audience in tears, but also several of the players. Contest officials were seen mopping the floor of water after the horn section had left the stage!

Barrie Gott commented on the delivery of the hymn tune “His Provision” – XLCR knew the words to this hymn and played with great sensitivity.

A very emotional Musical Director, Howard Taylor, achieved one of his major goals – the Australian National Championships, and dedicated his award of the Champion Conductor to his father.

Dale Hosking, soprano cornet for XLCR, had a ‘blinder’ of a weekend and was suitably awarded the Musos Media award for best soloist in an A Grade band. Other soloists in the bands performances included Rodney Everitt, Paula Russell, Amanda Casagrande, Steve Ridler, Ashley Gittins, Brenden Wheeler, Brad Hosking (with tuning slide in!), Brett Baker, Julie Woods, Steve Whittington, Rick Casagrande, the percussionists, and of course, the 3rd cornets. There was also frequent mention in the adjudicators comments about the high quality of the band accompaniment.

Drum Major, Rick Casagrande, celebrated the third year in a row where XLCR were awarded the prize for the best A Grade marching band in Australia. There is no doubt that the presence of Black Dyke trombonist, Brett Baker, within the ranks of the band for the street march contributed enormously to the bands success in this event this year.

Brenden wins 2005 BBC Musician of the Year

Brenden with the ‘gong’

Hear Brenden play in the Grand Final at:

We spoke to Brenden an hour after the announcement that he had won the BBC Brass Musician of the Year, 2005!!! Brenden was absolutely beside himself with happiness!

Sporting a new suit and a haircut, Brenden played ‘Flight to Sparta’ from ‘Three Worlds’ by Peter Meechan and ‘The Holy Well’ by Peter Graham and was accompanied by Black Dyke. The first of these pieces is extremely demanding – technically. Brenden said, “The first thing I did when I finished playing was to ring my Mum and tell her how happy I was with how I played. Regardless of the result, I was so satisfied because ‘I nailed it’!. To win was a bonus.”

At the end of Brenden’s performance, he received a standing ovation which went on for so long that Frank Renton had to go back stage, find Brenden, and bring him back onto the stage to acknowledge the ovation.

Mick and Cathy Wheeler are equally stoked. “Any doubts we had about sending Brenden to the UK have gone.”


I was going to write a paragraph or two on Brenden’s lead up to the BBC Young Brass Musician of the Year final….but I think Brenden does it best in his reply email where I asked him for a few details. His email says…..


Just nursing a bad hangover this morning from man uniteds 4 2 victory… 🙂 regretting it this morning though………..

The final is the 19th of feb with black dyke at the royal northern and the semi finals are broadcasted on the 18th and 25th of feb on bbc radio 2 listen to the band program at and the final is broadcasted on the 4th of March……….. The final stage is a proper concert and it will be announced at the concert who wins… just a first place and three runner ups…….. i’m playing New Order:Flight to Sparta and The Holy Well…….

theres a dodgy photo on the bbc site at
and i’ll attach a few more to this….. don’t know if you want a fun one or a serious one so i’ll attach a couple in the hepworth uniform……..

got to run to band now… hope i’ve covered it all let us know if theres anything else……. wish i was coming away…… it’d be a fantastic trip…… don’t do anything i wouldn’t do!!!!

p.s. looking for photos but can’t really fine many that you could put on the web for public viewing hehehe…….. only 2……..

Brenden at his best!!

The Brenden that we know and love after his Scottish Open win with Hepworth