Above: Glenn Madden Polished Professional.
Above: Adelaide Brass Quintet
Above: ASO with Elizabeth Band, Belshazzars Feast.
Above: Elizabeth Band, Burnie 1980
Above: Elizabeth Band in Melbourne 1985
Above: Young Glenn Madden, cornet champion.
The opening bars of the test piece “Spectrum” by Gilbert Vinter are challenging, to say the least! Six flats and a lot of flying about, at speed, for the cornets. Rapid fire semiquavers blazing the trail for a powerful melody spearheaded by the trombone section.I have two friends who connect me in an instant with this superbly crafted work. They are Glenn Madden and Glen Madden, and yes they are phonetically indistinguishable, the former is a trumpet player, the latter is a magpie. Glenn was named, by Dudley and Edna Madden, after Glenn Miller. Glen was named by me. I only gave him one “n” because I was worried that he might have an identity crisis. This could be especially important if Glen ever took up the trumpet, and his playing was not of the same high standard as Glenns!
The connection between Glenn Madden and Spectrum, in my mind, goes back to 1972, when the sound of Glenn’s cornet could be heard leading the St Johns Ambulance Brigade Band in Ballarat. Machinegun-like attack and a perfect cornet sound made audience members take notice. Unfortunately my memory of this performance comes via a tape recording. Glenn and four of his orchestral colleagues from the ASO had been “persuaded” by Harold “Digger” Walmsley to join the other St Johns band members on the bus to Ballarat. Their rendition of Vinters seminal work was recorded and, years later, I listened to it with Glenn’s eldest son Richard, who also happens to be a trumpet gun! After the opening 16 bars or so , Richard said to me, “You’ve either got it or you haven’t”. We smiled and nodded agreeably.
Glenn Madden has got it.
He got “it” by making the most of his considerable natural ability. His work ethic, in my opinion, was probably fuelled by his desire to be the best at whatever he does. I suspect that as a young person there were some seriously high expectations of him. Expectations that materialized in the form of a substantial professional musical career and a significant contribution to community music.
Glenn is a humble bloke and high achiever who also has a slightly fragile side. He says that if he had his time over again he would like to be a better trumpet player and even a better husband and father. That bit doesn’t appear in his responses, his wife Chesne told me to take it out, which I willingly did! His photo album looks like it could be used as a template for the ideal family. His three lads are hearty and good-hearted and a credit to their parents. His superb trumpet playing and marvellous musicianship are the envy of lesser beings. He is genuine, generous and not particularly inclined to self-glorification. He is an excellent listener, musically and socially. He loves gadgets, like heavy metal valve bottoms, extra-chunky mouthpieces and acusonic leadpipes, he is also a better-than-handy woodworker.
My other friend Glen Madden has been, unwittingly, on the receiving end of my magpie calls, which are a re-enactment of Glenn Madden’s rendering of the opening bars of Spectrum, but delivered in my special “Magpie” voice! The non-brassbanding neighbours look puzzled and bemused as Glen descends from the sky to take up the offer of bacon rinds and cheese placed on the feeding table. I smile inwardly and give thanks to Good Old Gilbert Vinter for bringing us together. Glenn, Glen, Gilbert and me.
I invite you to get to know Glenn Madden.
Geoff Meikle, 2020
Name Glenn Madden,
Born: Hobart, Tasmania,
Date: 2nd September 1944
Parents names: Dudley and Edna Madden
Instrument(s): Cornet, Trumpet (Bb, C, Eb, D, piccolo), Flugelhorn.
Who were your first influences and who gave you your first lesson?
My father, he influenced me a lot. He was a trumpet and trombone player, basically self-taught. He became a professional trombonist in the Melbourne Army Band after the war, it was a brass band back then. He had played in many brass bands in Tasmania before that, and yes he gave me my first lesson when I was 9 years old and many lessons until I was about 16.
What band(s) have you played in?
Has there been a particular time in your life that has been important in shaping you as a musician?
I remember as a 12 year old hearing Louis Armstrong, live in concert with his band, that had a profound influence on me to become a full time musician. Back then I wanted to play and sound like Louis. That was not, obviously, the direction that I eventually went. I have always had a love for jazz and big bands. My greatest love, of course, eventually was orchestral music. I was fully employed as an orchestral musician for 35 years.
Going to Sweden in the late 70’s and playing with the Malmo Symphony Orchestra for one year was a great experience and learning curve for me. I had many lessons from several great trumpet players and teachers.
Contesting…….. Is it worth the effort?
Yes, I believe so. Because banding is an amateur venture, contesting can be a goal, a standard to achieve and a way to improve the level of playing. I don’t believe in the points system however. In my opinion, 1st, 2nd and 3rd placings by the adjudicator is enough. After all, the adjudicators decision is only his personal opinion!! We must not ever forget that!
Banding is for fun and not too be taken too seriously.
What awards, prizes and achievements have made you glad you made the effort.
What are your preferred styles of music?
Classical music, every style, orchestral, opera etc. Big Bands, traditional jazz, the earlier brass band test pieces, eg. 70’s and 80’s. I think the modern test pieces are far too difficult (“A” Grade) and have become too technical, losing the meaning of what the music is all about (in my humble opinion).
Who are your favourite musicians, bands and musical associates?
My colleagues from the Adelaide Brass Quintet, Jim Dempsey, Howard Parkinson, Nelson Green, Peter Whish-Wilson and later Warwick Tyrell.
Louis Armstrong, Doc Severinsen, Timofei Dokshizer, Count Basie Orchestra, Ole Anderson (Danish Radio Symphony), Vincent Cichowizc (Chicago Symphony Orchestra, I had lessons from him), James Stamp. All of these people have influenced me in some way, just by listening to recordings, as well as many violinists and singers from around the world.
What would you do differently? Any regrets?
I would be a musician over again. I think perhaps the only thing I would like to do again is to strive to be a better player than I was.
I have to say that if I hadn’t had the love and support of my wife Chesne (pr. Shane), I would not have achieved what I did. She also encouraged our three boys, Richard (trumpet), Matthew (trombone) and Aaron (trumpet) to achieve great things. They are all excellent musicians.
What effect has banding had on your family life?
It has had a tremendous effect on us all. The social life and camaraderie we had during the Elizabeth City Brass Band era, (I conducted the band for nine years from 1980-1989) was fantastic.
I also conducted the Mitcham City Band for 12 months
Has banding influenced your social life?
Yes, absolutely. We have all made many life-long friends through being involved with Elizabeth, and of course other bands and the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.
What are your other interests?
Woodwork, cabinetmaking, restoring used and old furniture, walking, bike riding and going out to long lunches with my wife Chesne and friends.
What lies ahead for you?
To live the rest of my life enjoying listening to good music and watching good movies on TV. Be as healthy as possible and also enjoy listening to our three sons performing, as well as our two grandsons William and Nicholas Madden, both trumpet players. We look forward to seeing them mature and their careers develop along with our other seven grandchildren.
As a professional musician with a brass band background, I would like you to consider addressing the following questions as part of your story.
How would you characterise your approach to music and playing your instrument now, compared with your early brass band days?
I think I would probably learn the piano, I believe that this is the foundation to all music and spend more time playing through the Arban Tutor, Schlossberg, James Stamp etc. method books.
Is there a difference between the pressure you feel as a pro and the pressure you felt on the brass band contest stage?
I always got more nervous playing with an A Grade band in a contest than I ever did with an orchestra, I can’t explain why.
Is there one particular quality that a musician needs to become a pro or do they need a cocktail of qualities to enable them to perform professionally?
To become a pro muso, one needs to perform at a high level all the time. When playing in a concert, there are no second chances.
How many cocktails would you advise someone to consume before they perform?!
Do you play for free when asked to by a brass band?
B) No……….Please explain!
C) Depends on whether they provide free cocktails!
Do you still enjoy being part of the brass band scene?
B) No………….Please explain!
C) Only if it involves a vast quantity of cocktails!
Anything else?..................Thoughts and opinions?
I think I have said all I need to say!
Keep on Banding!