Above: Classic Phil
Above: Phil being fitted for a new band hat!
Above: Phil holding the Don Heinze Shield with Tony Nicholls looking on.
Above: Phil leading the way during the diagram march.
Above: Phil with Sarah Denman.
Above: Prime time Phil during John Martin's Pageant
Above: Slimline Phil on his brother's shoulders.
Above: Smiling Phil, tuba at the ready!
Above: The Phil we all know and love with Darren Cameron.
Above: Young Phil collecting another one for the pool room!
Above: Phil with David Polain.
Most people would know Phil Benger as a jovial, jocular, jolly Jester.
That’s because he is.
But that is not all there is to Phil. He is also cluey, thoughtful, hard-working and a considerate leader. As a utility player in the band and as a Drum Major particularly, he is worth his weight in gold medals, which he has plenty of after years of dedicated work in drill and marching.
What many people may not realise about Phil is that he has a huge heart, metaphorically speaking! A few years ago when the SA Band Champs were held at Faith Lutheran School, Phil was up on stage collecting his umpteenth Best Drum Major award. In his thank you speech right at the point where he said that he would like to dedicate this award to his late Dad, the voice cracked. It was a truly special moment in the room. Those who know Phil had the collective wind taken out of their emotional sails en masse. His good mate Geoffrey “Chip” Magin and I were sitting on either side of the aisle in the middle of the hall. As Phil approached us we rose together with outstretched arms in an intuitive gesture of support for him.
It’s at times like this that you quickly come to the realisation that Banding is as much about people and relationships as it is about music. What Phil has to say about Ron Arthur is particularly poignant.
I invite you to savour the words of Phil Benger, a credit to his family and the Brass Band Movement.
Geoff Meikle, 2020
Brass Band Profile - PHIL BENGER
I began with the Klemzig Boys Brass Band when I was seven and a half, following my brother Kevin in first. Mum and Dad encouraged us to join and learn new things.
At the time Jack Mitchell was the conductor of the band and his wife, the incomparable Nellie Mitchell, later Nellie Wilsden, was the teacher of the learners class as well as playing the "G" trombone. Being short of height and arm length, she was known to use an extension handle, so she was able to get the long positions.
At the time the band was run by the formidable Morgan Goode with the Gillespies, Gough and Trotta parents. Also the Nye family provided family to the band.
There were Magins, Bengers, Hunts, and numerous other families involved when I joined.
There was one night during practice when we weren't playing all that well when Jack Mitchell, who was conducting and not getting the desired result, decided to begin slumping to the floor. John Gough, on eupho, and the lead solo cornet, knowing that Jack had a heart problem flew out of their seats to catch him from falling. He was laughing as they got to him and their instruments were just hitting the floor, all this to prove a point. The point was taken on and we improved. Those things you remember.
I began on cornet and then onto baritone because my mouth was too big, go figure.
I have since played all of the instruments in the band, including tuned percussion but not the trombone.
We competed in numerous competitions every year, Tanunda, Waikerie, Hahndorf and numerous others. We did many fetes and concerts and we seemed to be doing gigs most weekends. Christmas was always special with the band on the back of one of the parents' trucks playing carols all over the district with a special emphasis on aged care homes.
Jack succumbed to his heart condition and I remember playing his favorite hymns at the Enfield cemetery during the service. This was the first time I saw men crying as their love for him in the band was massive which I didn't comprehend at that age, but I realized why as I matured and realized the asset he had been to the band.
Nellie took over as conductor for the time being until other conductors came and went.
Notable conductors that I remember were Bob Size, Ron Arthur and numerous others.
I believe that the conductor who had the most influence on the Bands' direction and reputation as a very good band, both playing/performing and marching was Ron Arthur. He showed us that music isn't just dots on a page but a language and an art that, at it's heart, can lift you up, bring you down, make to laugh and make you cry. Through good practice and rehearsal he showed us the beauty and drama of music.
Many players from the band moved on into professional careers, teaching and onto A grade bands around the country and the world mainly due to the influence that Ron or Uncle Ron, as he was affectionately known. The birth of the Klemzig Oompah Band was born in the mind of Ron and has been the performing outlet of the band that, in my mind, finances our other habit of competing and performing other concerts.
I personally owe Ron a lot that he probably won't ever realize. When I was going through a particularly dark time in my life I attribute a lot of my recovery to staying involved in the band and being conducted by him and the opportunity to stay and perform and compete.
With regard to my position as the Drum Major of the band, this story has it's beginning with a missing current Drum Major, a sick deputy Drum Major and a massed band display the Adelaide Show grounds that also included Pipe bands.
Knowing that I was a Police Cadet and had been well drilled as part of my training, I was convinced to lead the Band in that Display, thankfully we had a minor roll. That is how I became out Drum Major at the age of 18.
John Gough was my main influence as a Drum Major having followed him down many streets as a marching band member and being impressed by his demeanor, discipline and style. His commands were always crisp and projected well. His manner of instruction has stayed with me all of these years and forms the basis for my practice sessions.
As a Band we have been at the forefront of display marching in this state and always strive to introduce something new and challenging as often as possible especially when competing.
The biggest asset I have when designing, training and performing displays and competition moves, is the members of our band. I will have an idea in mind and we will all contribute to bring that idea to the performance level. There hasn't been a marching performance that we haven't all been a part of, and there have been many.
In fact, the first time our tuba section was involved in the infamous 'TUBA SPINS' was at the Christmas parade at the Mount Gambier competitions. I was in front of the band and during a drum section after a change of music and heard a swishing sound from behind and loud applause from the audience. Knowing that I hadn't done anything special, I turned to see the front row of the band, which was the entire tuba section, spinning their tubas in the air one after the other AND IT WAS SPECTACULAR. It has stayed with us ever since. This is a prime example of how the members of our band contribute to the entertainment even on a straight march.
Since I began as Drum Major we have been successful with our marching taking many first places in competition and being involved in numerous pageants and Anzac marches. We have also designed and executed mass display marches at the Royal Show and once for the SANFL Grand Final at Football Park along with other displays. My band has made me proud of them and they are always up for something new.
My biggest achievement as a Drum Major was not just winning the marching competition at the National Competitions in Melbourne, but also being honoured by being awarded the Jim Brill trophy as the best Drum Major at the Nationals. Phoning my Mother to tell her and hearing how proud she is of me is the highlight of my career.
I was looking at the Bands trophy cabinet recently with Chip Magin and we realized that we had both been involved in the winning of most of the trophies in that cabinet.
We also discussed the fact that I have had the honour of playing under every Conductor that the band has had.
I am in my 54th year of being a member of the Klemzig and Enfield Brass Band in all of it guises. I am currently the longest serving member of the organization and only serious illness or death will stop me playing or being involved into the future.
No one will every understand the true joy and honour I have enjoyed being a member of the Band but it is palpable and a large part of my DNA. My love of the organisation and people who are part of it is only surpassed by my love for my Wife and Family As I often say to people, who ask why I am still playing in the band , IT IS ONE OF THE ONLY THINGS YOU CAN DO UNTIL YOU DROP.
Phil Benger, 2020.