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NATIONAL BAND OF NEW ZEALAND RUNNERS UP TO THE 2017 WORLD CHAMPIONS

Following 18 months of preparation the National Band of New Zealand assembled in East Auckland for their final rehearsals before our tour of Hamilton, Auckland, Hong Kong, Holland and Germany. The tour couldn’t have got off to a better start with the Hamilton City Brass taking control of the first concert of the tour, playing hosts exceptionally well. Prior to show time they put on an awesome spread for the 36 strong hungry band. Then through their promotional efforts provided us with a full house, and one of the most enthusiastic crowds of the tour, together with our first standing ovation! Bravo Hamilton you rocked!

I was asked to assist the tour by helping to promote our Auckland concert via the media. The media certainly didn’t let us down with stories and coverage by the Western Leader, Face TV’s Rockin the Planet on Sky TV 83, Newstalk ZB helped us out with featured interviews, as did Radio New Zealand. To top all that off TVNZ Breakfast featured the band live on their show from 6am to 9am with crosses throughout the morning. I dread to think how much all this promotion would have cost in the form of advertising, yet Auckland still failed to produce a capacity crowd for what turned out to be New Zealand’s World Champion silver medallist’s. Then again they don’t turn up to watch the Blues play either.

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From there it was on to Hong Kong to perform at the 20th Anniversary of the new Hong Kong administration where a huge crowd turned out at their beautiful theatre to listen to the kiwis.

For the rest of the tour in Europe it was not one but two standing ovations per show at our concerts. It’s amazing how the arts are so respected abroad. Maybe it’s the population that provide more support for the arts. Maybe it’s because we are from another country or maybe it’s just because we idolise sport in our country way more than we have an appetite for the arts. I have toured a lot in my career and every time you travel, you wish you could get the same reaction from New Zealanders. I hope that doesn’t sound too negative but its fact and really makes you understand why New Zealand musicians and entertainers get such a buzz from taking their talents off shore.

The National Band of New Zealand proved that it was not just the general public they were good at impressing. The World Championship judges loved us too. We followed our concert performances with a silver medal performance at the World Championships in Kerkrade Holland. I have been very honoured to be selected for four National Bands over the years and this was my second time competing at the World Championships. It’s interesting after each tour, you always hear individuals within the band say it was the best National Band yet but for me personally, it was the best National Band I have been involved with. There are many reasons for this but above all, this band was good. Real good! The music we played and selection of repertoire to get the result needed was superbly selected by Musical Director Nigel Weeks and the personnel all got on so well. Everyone was there for the right reasons, encouraged each other and the balance of younger members and us more senior members really blended into a fun group of talented musicians. There were so many highlights for me musically, listening to the skills of the principal players of this incredible band and the way Nigel Weeks brought so many quality individual musicians from all over New Zealand into a harmonious musical ensemble was something rather special.

The band was beaten by Brass Band Willebroek representing Belgium. One of the top ranked brass bands in the world, four times former European Champions and now World Champions. We were 2 and a half points behind them. Top English band Carlton Main Frickley came in 3rd with the reigning World Champions, there to defend their 2013 title, Manger Musikklag from Norway coming home in 4th position.

This was certainly one of the many career highlights for me. The band had a number of sponsors and supporters that helped them financially achieve their goals to get to this contest but the players also had to contribute substantially to finance the trip. Sometimes personal finance can determine the quality of the participants as not everyone can afford to go. But in this case the 2017 National Band of New Zealand was full of talent no matter how much the individuals had to pay to get there. A credit to the management, the conductor and the personal pride within the New Zealand brass band movement to get the chance to represent the best little country in the World!

Again I really do need to thank CTS Tours and the Variety Artist Club of New Zealand for their assistance with my personal contribution and to all those that helped with the fundraising. It allowed me to concentrate on practice rather than the money worries. It’s great we repaid such wonderful support with a fantastic result that was produced with just 16 days practice prior to the championships. Up against the best in the world that play together day in and day out.

For those unfamiliar with brass bands they don’t use trumpets in brass bands like you see me play at my gigs. Cornets are used by the musicians. So for this tour I’d have to say the trumpetguy was a very proud cornetguy!

Check out the gig guide for the rest of the year. As I take a breath I don’t want too much of a breath and there are plenty of dates to fill for the rest of 2017. What better way to promote a show at your venue featuring John McGough the trumpetguy. The 2016-17 Variety Artist Club of New Zealand’s Top Musician of the Year and a member of the National Band of New Zealand. Silver Medallists at the 2017 World Championships. Surely that should excite the punters.

Let’s start a party!

Bye Bye from the trumpetguy.

John McGough