St Marys District band makes a move to the Joan

THE end of a long partnership could have been the end of the music for St Marys District Band — but the song continues, thanks to a fresh start and new home.

The band recently moved to the Joan Sutherland Centre following the breakdown of its relationship with St Marys Band Club last year.

"We've secured the best acoustic facility in western Sydney and can continue to be part of the community," band music director Ben Crocker said.

It was the band that established St Marys Band Club in the 1950s, which makes the break-up tougher for everyone involved.

"It's a tragedy," Mr Crocker said.

"No one else in the history of the band world had the foresight to set up a club as we did.

"We were the envy of band clubs all over the world but in the end, we had no choice."

The band put in its great performances at the Australian open championships in recent years and is now ranked the 137th in the world.

Mr Crocker stressed the band's strong connection with St Marys won't be lost.

"We will continue to be part of the St Marys Anzac Day march and Anzac Day dawn service at St Marys RSL," he said.

The band consists of 30 to 40 members and welcomes newcomers with open arms.

"A small percentage are professional musicians," Mr Crocker said.

"We have doctors, teachers, trades people, students and people from the military, most of whom live in the local area.

"We have an open door policy.

"No matter where you're from, if you want to learn an an instrument, we'll teach you at no cost."

The band wants to win Australian national championships in April.

The band was won every section it has entered at the state championships in the past two years.

"We're going for the hat-trick when it comes to Penrith in August," Mr Crocker said.


HE earliest record of St Marys District Band was in 1882, 50 years before the Sydney Symphony Orchestra was formed.

It was called the South Creek Brass Band because that was what St Marys was known at the time.

In 1923 the band acquired land by the Great Western Highway donated by local businessman Joe Armstein.

The modern version of the band came into existence in 1952, with Brian King as president and Ern Keller as bandmaster.

Members decided to set up a club and apply for a liquor licence as a way to raise funds to keep the band going.

St Marys Band Club sponsored the band for many years until the relationship broke down in September.

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