Above: Contemporary Kerry
Above: Brighton Concert Band, National Band Championships 1993
Above: Elizabeth Brass Band, Nationals 1990
Above: Latrobe Federal Band , Nationals 1985
Above: Tasmanian Youth Brass Band, 1974, Kerry second from right, Dudley Madden conductor
Above: Primary Schools Wind Ensemble 1993
Above: Kerry, with Salisbury, Geoff Snelling in foreground, at the Mitcham Band Festival 2019
Kerry Hewett is proud to be an Aussie and makes you feel proud to be an Aussie.
Having said that he is also worldly, witty, warm and can, with his impressive command of colloquialisms, wax lyrical with equal eloquence on the Ford Falcon, Eric Ball, Daryl Baldock, David Boon and Barry Tuckwell. For those of you out there in Brassbandland who may not be familiar with those last three names, Baldock, Tuckwell and Boon are St Kilda FC, french horn and Aussie/Tassie cricket legends, respectively!
Kerry is a sociable bloke. I have socialized with him on many occasions, every now and then our vision has become slightly blurred as we've sat together and had a wee look at life through a hazy, scotch-induced mist. Sometimes, but not always, after ingesting a variety of social lubricants we've poured out our troubles and made each other laugh. Our friendship is now 30 + years strong and still going.
That's Brass Banding for you.
Kerry is an excellent and thoughtful muso and a first rate teacher. If your kid came home from school and said that he/she wasn't doing well in music, you could take teacher error out of the equation straight away if Mr Hewett was running the show!
As usual, Kerry has produced the goods with his story. He is renowned for pulling his weight, mind you if I weighed 61 kilos, pulling my weight would be a fair bit easier than it is at present!
I strongly urge you to savour the wit and wisdom of the son of a painter and decorator from North Hobart.
Geoff Meikle, 2020
Brass Band Profile
My name is Kerry Leslie Hewett. I was born in Hobart in 1960, on a day when the temperature topped 39C and a week or so before television broadcasting began in Tasmania. I weigh about 61kg wringing wet. My sister is a pharmacist who had the piano lessons. I got the chemistry set. Go figure!
I attended New Town High School in Hobart’s inner northern suburbs – as did at least 2 other contributors to this compilation of SA Brass Band identities. After a year on recorder – (recommended for the students with no prior musical background), I decided that there had to be something more to musical expression other than the dreaded Misery Stick. After a few exchanges between my mother and the music department, I was admitted to the school’s brass program.
I began playing Tenor Horn early in Year 8 and my teacher was Glenn Madden’s father Dudley. He directed the Tasmanian Youth Brass Band, which I joined later that year. Dudley was a conservative gentleman approaching retirement age and the generational gap between he and I (at age 13) meant that some of his pearls of wisdom were not always appreciated or understood. As I now am of a very similar age myself, I take a far more compliant view of his instruction and values.
By Year 11 I had moved to the Returned Services Memorial Band – later to become Glenorchy Brass. Their director was Arthur Victor Edwards, trumpet player with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra. His brass band credentials were impeccable. He came from the brass band heartland of the Wollongong – Illawarra region of NSW. He was faultless in his wisdom of all things brass and preparation of brass bands. He had an almost biblical knowledge and understanding of the Arban’s Tutor, and could identify and instantly direct you to the specific study(s) from it that you should be practicing. And he never got it wrong. Ever.
If I learned one thing from Arthur – and I learned many - it was his advice on dealing with the slings and arrows of brass band politics. I consulted him on numerous occasions regarding the sort of difficulties and impasses that anyone who has directed a community band will inevitably encounter. He told me quite directly - “…Son, I will give you the same advice I got from *** ******* when I was your age – ‘ Go into this business fully expecting to get a kick up the @#*!, because you will never be disappointed!’ “
By the age of 14 I had begun playing the french horn. I had realised that the lovely little tuba that had so appealed to me and the brass band community was not so familiar or understood outside of it. So I began studying with Frits Harmsen, principal horn the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra and played with the Tasmanian Youth Orchestra for the next 4 years. During that time TYO performed 3-4 major concerts each year across Tasmania and toured to Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.
I was accepted into the Bachelor of Music course at the Tasmanian Conservatorium of Music in 1978 and pursued a largely orchestral and chamber music pathway through the University of Tasmania, graduating in early 1982.
My first teaching appointment was to Burnie in NW Tasmania. I was appointed as Musical Director of the Burnie Municipal Band until moving to Devonport the following year, becoming a member of the nearby Latrobe Federal Band (established in 1872 and Australia’s oldest continuously functioning brass band), under the direction of Peter Quigley AO. By this time I was no stranger to State and National competitions, and the “Feds” won 3 consecutive state B Grade titles in both Tasmania and Victoria in my time playing with them, as well as appearances at 2 National Band Championships. I also was given the reins of the newly formed Mersey Leven Youth Brass until I left for South Australia at the end of 1986.
In 1987 I moved to Adelaide and sometime after was invited by Richard Madden (Dudley’s grandson) to attend a rehearsal of the Elizabeth City Brass Band, his father Glenn having recently passed the baton to his ASO colleague James Dempsey). The next 4 or 5 years were quite successful but turbulent times for the ECBB. A junior band program was established in the early 1990’s with which I was involved. In addition to the SABA competitions, the band competed at national championships 3 times in my time with it. I played some challenging and inspiring music, had some great times and made a number of strong friendships at Elizabeth which last to this day. The devolution of the band in the early 1990s was therefore a sad moment for many of the fine people who had committed themselves to it for many years.
In 1993 I was appointed as conductor of SA Education Department’s Primary Schools Wind Ensemble, a position I held for the next 23 years. That same year I began playing with Mitcham City Band under Glenn Madden in 1993. I became musical director of the band after Glenn stepped down the following year, having success with the band in a strong B grade at Tanunda in 1995. However, shortly after, the truth and wisdom of Arthur Edwards’ words from years earlier resonated with me.
By 1997 I had registered with Salisbury City Band which was, at the time, directed by a mate from my days with Elizabeth City Brass Band. Hint: A front row cornet player, jazz trumpeter (also flute, saxophone and guitar), MC Extraordinaire, boat builder and these days is a highly successful emerging author. Sometime some years later, the baton was passed to his wife Adrienne and daughter of the band’s founding conductor from 1958, Ken McMahon.
I can still be found playing Tenor Horn - usually at stupid o’clock every April 25th and January 26th, or standing around in light drizzle in yellow and black, wearing a funny hat with tinsel enveloping my instrument amidst a bunch of similarly attired folk, waiting…waiting…waiting. (Gotta love that part of being in a community brass band)
In SA I had begun to play more regularly with concert bands, something that I had only done infrequently when living in Tasmania, mainly due to the rarity of community concert bands at the time there. In fact, many of the brass band community there at the time regarded them as “Screech and Whistle Bands”, having only the poorly directed local high school concert band of 13-15 year olds as a reference point. The same people who also believed that only Boosey & Hawkes could build a decent cornet or euphonium, and that a diagram marching competition in the middle of a Tasmanian winter would draw a huge crowd!
I do understand that people choose to play a particular instrument for a variety of reasons unique to them. However, I contend that those reasons and individuals are much more diverse within concert band than within a brass band. Simply, the instrument chooses the player. The soprano cornet player is therefore more likely to have more in common with the bass trombonist on the other side of the band than the flautist and the oboist who sit next each other in a concert band. I could also be quite wrong about that too.
From 1992 I played French Horn with City of Brighton Concert Band (now Holdfast Bay Concert Band) under Dr Stephen Boyle, who directed the band to 3 consecutive national B grade titles. I also played with Tea Tree Gully Redbacks directed by David Gardiner (Band of the SA Police) at the Nationals in Geelong(2002), Newcastle (2003) and Melbourne (2007).
Competition in some band circles can be the life blood of the ensemble, something of a raison d’etre for many, sometimes almost a blood-sport for others. The fact remains that for many bands and individual players in them, competition is where they must address unfamiliar repertoire that (usually) demands a greater technical and musical challenge than the weekly blow in the band room. And it is performed in the very public forum of one’s peers. Get it right – instant kudos, recognition and respect – (maybe). Get it wrong - and all of us have at some point- and it seems as if there is no hole big enough to crawl into. I am uncertain as to how many times I have performed at State competitions. At the time of writing I have performed at 14 Nationals, and in more than one section at the same competition 4 times.
Only on 4 occasions has the event been held in the state that I lived in. And once- and only once- have I appeared as a 3rd cornet player.
Working hard to produce a quality ensemble, playing or directing. Simply stated – “It’s good when it’s fun, but it’s much more fun when it’s good.”
The camaraderie of brass bands, especially at contests- (Bloody hard eupho solo! Who are you blowing with these days? What did yez get for the inspection?, etc etc)
Australia winning The Ashes, and St Kilda FC - winning anything
Drill Adjudicators dressed like a lion tamer with a clipboard and the compassion of a parking meter attendant.
Diagram marching (see above)
Street marching behind anything horse-drawn.
Often there does not appear to be a sufficient number of Tuesdays in a week, so I juggle my obligations between SCB and my community orchestral commitments. Very fortunately for me, both parties have been happy for me to do this for quite some time.
I am currently president of Adelaide Horn Jam, a seasonal french horn ensemble of ~20-25 players from the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Band of the SA Police, Elder Conservatorium and instrumental teachers and community ensemble players such as myself who can play a bit.
I play with Unley Symphony Orchestra, Adelaide Summer Orchestra and when required, Adelaide Wind Orchestra and Norwood Symphony Orchestra. I am an associate conductor of SA Education Department’s SA Schools Concert Band and have directed the SA chapter of the Australasian Double Reed Society’s massed ensemble for the past 4 seasons. (I don’t understand that last one either!)
Reduction of my teaching time and retirement are definitely foreseeable. As for continuing to play in bands - I would hope to be able to for as long as I am capable. I mentioned to some colleagues a year or three ago that I don’t want to be that old guy that many bands have had in their ranks at some time. The one who hasn’t been able to put 3 or 4 notes together for as long as anyone under the age of 45 can remember. The player who, back in the day, was an absolute gun player but it is now all beyond him completely. How sad. Either he is no longer able to tell the difference any more, or just doesn’t care any more.
After raising this topic with one of my colleagues, a very fine and well respected local musician, marginally younger than I, he said, with a very straight face “Kerry, there’s something we need to tell you….”
Kerry Hewett 20/01/2020