Band in tune with war history

The Perth Hills and Wheatbelt Band on its tour of the European battlefields of two world wars.A band member pays musical tribute.
The Perth Hills and Wheatbelt Band on its tour of the European battlefields of two world wars.A band member pays musical tribute.

The Perth Hills and Wheatbelt Band of students and former students of senior high schools from Kalamunda, Lesmurdie and Northam gave the performance of their lives.

Over five weeks, they performed at iconic places in Australia�s military past including Gallipoli, The Western Front and Omaha Beach.

Band director and Kalamunda SHS music teacher Peter Hind said The Australians at War tour brought home the reality of how many lives were lost in wartime.

Tributes included Last Post ceremonies to honour fallen Australian soldiers at cemeteries, on battlefields, at memorials and on defence bases.

�These ranged from solo bugle calls, official formal events, a full marching band, a 1940s swing band to flash mobbing bridges, beaches and footpaths,� he said.

One of the aims of the tour was to highlight the involvement of Australians in some of the lesser-known conflicts and to provide opportunities for band members to conduct services for relatives.

�This saw our team of buglers playing Last Post at numerous cemeteries and significant locations,� Mr Hind said.

Shrapnel Valley, Lone Pine, Fromelles and The Nek were among the significant locations visited by students.

The band had the honour of marching through the Menin Gate in Ypres, playing Waltzing Matilda at the conclusion of the 29,999th performance of the Last Post ceremony.

At Fromelles, the band participated in the official ceremony marking the 99th anniversary of the conflict.

Mr Hind said Last Post ceremonies were very moving.

�Everywhere the band went, their professionalism, maturity and commitment to engaging with the historical significance of the location was commented on,� he said.

�They truly were great ambassadors for their country.�

The students� informal performances also proved popular with locals and these included playing the Dambusters March on the Mohne Dam and flash mobbing Omaha Beach with The Longest Day theme.

Mr Hind said the tour was one of the longest run out of WA and was very successful.

The Perth Hills and Wheatbelt Band will tour the US in 2018, with performance dates in New York, Washington and LA.