Esteemed Canterbury musician Dwayne Bloomfield was here last weekend for the Cambridge Brass Band’s final full practice before leaving for France.
The Cambridge Auxilliary Band, which includes 17 players under age 18 together with some senior players and about 20 supporters, leave soon on the group’s first official overseas trip in its 130-year history. The trip celebrates the Cambridge/Le Quesnoy sister-city relationship, and the band will take part in events commemorating the centenary of Le Quesnoy’s liberation by Kiwi troops just before the end of World War One.
At the heart of the main November 4 commemorations will be the band’s performance of a piece of music composed by Dwayne for the occasion, entitled ‘The Liberation of Le Quesnoy’. The internationally-acclaimed composer has long combined his musicianship with an interest in military history; and among his other works are a piece to commemorate Passchendaele, one for Gallipoli, and a composition called ‘7.1’ in remembrance of the Christchurch earthquakes.
Dwayne spent 26 years with the NZ Army Band and is now musical director with Canterbury Brass. After last Saturday’s practice at the Cambridge High School hall – with band members aged 8 to 83 – he said everything was coming together well.
Dwayne’s visit to Le Quesnoy helped provide background to the composition, while an interview with Colin Averill – son of the 21-year-old hero of Le Quesnoy’s liberation, 2nd Lieutenant Leslie Averill, who led his battalion up a ladder and over the wall into the town – provided more information.
“I was able to read some of Colin’s father’s diaries – it gave me great insight into what had happened there,” said Dwayne.
The band’s final local performance before leaving for France was at Sunday’s Trash ‘n Treasure market, playing alongside the Cambridge High School Concert Band in a joint fundraiser for the Cambridge Salvation Army Foodbank – raising $153. Even as they continue fundraising to meet the $75,000 cost of going to France, the band is keen to give something back to Cambridge.
Band spokesman and acting musical director Rob Hocking said fundraising to meet the trip’s costs was ongoing. “Anything people can add to that would be welcome. Ideally, we’d like a sponsor to come forward and support the band in the longer term. Plus, we would really like to help Dwayne get over there to conduct his special composition.”Support has also come through The Warehouse neighbourhood programme, with money raised going to support junior players and purchase new instruments and music.
Those keen to find out more should contact Kim Cross on [email protected] or 021 107 8263, or go to the band’s Givealittle page: https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/cambridge-brass-band-at-lequesnoy.