The Eltham Concert Band is a community band based in Eltham in the Shire of Nillumbik in the North Eastern suburbs of Melbourne (Australia). We are generously supported by the Shire Council and, prior to Covid we performed for a wide range of community service groups and in various community functions such as: The Nillumbik, Warrandyte and Banyule Festivals; Council functions and various market events. We hope to resume these functions as soon as possible. We also perform two concerts a year in the Eltham Community and Reception Centre.
Eltham Concert Band has a proud history of providing enjoyable music making for the players as well as exciting entertainment for the community. The Band celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2015. Several of the members have been with the Band for most of that time.
As a large wind ensemble, Eltham Concert Band includes Woodwind, Brass, and Percussion instruments, supplemented by String Bass. New players are always welcome.
The Band can perform in a variety of venues such as performing arts centres, halls, reception centres or clubs or in outdoors venues such as at community festivals or carols by candlelight.
Program selection varies according to context and audience - Music for all occasions. The Band is available for hire. Contact Committee members for information.
In the past, band members have ranged in age from 15 to 80+. While most of us just enjoy playing and performing to as high a standard possible, some of our players have a professional background in music. Members are encouraged to take the opportunity to perform solo items with the Band.
Eltham Concert Band is available for Hire. Contact the Band President or other Band Committee members for information about fees, arrangements and bookings. As a community band, some performances are provided free of charge for non-profit groups and organisations such as retirement villages.
Eltham Concert Band was formed in 1975, originally being known as the Shire of Eltham Concert Band. The Band was formed from an amalgamation of the Eltham Brass Band and woodwind group the Darebin Players. The late Ern Shade was the founding Music Director and under his leadership the Band progressed from a B Grade band to A Grade. Ern and Beattie Shade invested enormous energy in supporting the Band for over 15 years. This included managing the Band's library.
Ern Shade retired as Music Director in 1990, to be followed by Major Malcolm Bell of the Australian Army Band Melbourne. After retiring from the Australian Army in 1993, Malcolm moved to Brisbane and was replaced as Music Director of the Band by Colin Harris, who continued until 1996. Captain Peter Grant, also of the Australian Army Band Melbourne, became Music Director from early 1997 until mid 1998. Barry McKimm joined us later in 1998 and devoted seven years to bringing new music and musical styles to the Band. Barry was not just the Band's Music Director. He also provided many original compositions and arrangements for the Band to play. Mike Fitzpatrick took over as Music Director in 2006, but commitments with the Australian Army meant that he could not continue as full time Music Director. Eric Klay took over at the end of August 2006, and continued until March 2010 when Stephen Deakes assumed the role. Stephen stood down at the end of 2014 and handed over the directorship to another member of the Australian Army Band - Richard Mason. By mid 2016, Richard's commitments to the Australian Army have seen him unable to continue as Music Director and this sees Stephen Deakes returning to the position.
In 2007 Eltham Concert Band gained two patrons. These two patrons emphasise two important links for the Band: the Shire of Nillumbik, and the Shade family. We were therefore enormously pleased when the Mayor of Nillumbik Shire and Fred Shade (son of Ern) agreed to take on the role of Patron of Eltham Concert Band.
Music Director - Stephen Deakes
Stephen Deakes began playing music in brass bands in Tasmania and Melbourne. When aged 16 he enlisted in the Australian Army, where he studied clarinet at the Army School of Music at Balcombe near Mount Martha. After completing two years studies, he spent the next 22 years in various Australian Army bands including The Royal Military College Band, The Australian Army Bands Sydney and Kapooka. While at Australian Army Band Kapooka, Stephen also became Music Director of the Riverina Concert Band, a position he held for 4 years. In 2000, Stephen moved into his final position in the Army as the Supervisor of Training at the Defence Force School of Music at Watsonia.
After 24 years service, Stephen retired from the Army. He and his family purchased a business in Gippsland in country Victoria. He remained active in the local music scene, often playing with local jazz bands and also becoming Music Director of the Maffra Band.
In 2006 Stephen and his family returned to Melbourne, and not long after, was approached by the Army to become Bandmaster of the 2nd/10th Field Regiment Band based at St Kilda, a position he held until 2012.
Stephen lives and works locally and joined Eltham Concert Band in 2009, intending to just enjoy playing his instrument. When the position of Music Director became vacant in March 2010, Stephen agreed to take the position, initially as a temporary step to see us through our first concert, before later taking on the role in a full time capacity. At the end of 2013, Stephen decided he should step down from the role of Music Director, but stay on with the band as an instrumentalist. Stephen also directs the Transition Big Band and is an active member of several other bands. In May 2016, Stephen has returned to his role as Music Director of Eltham Concert Band.
Friends of ECB
There are several other bands in the area; all of the following are lucky enough to have Eltham players in their ranks
- The Manningham Concert Band & Preston Symphony Orchestra rehearse on a Tuesday
- The Eltham Orchestra, Croydon Concert Band, Croydon Wind Symphony and Melbourne Tramways Big Band rehearse on a Wednesday
- The Monash Concert Band rehearses on a Thursday
- The Booroondara Symphonic Band rehearses on a Friday
- The Whitehorse Orchestra rehearses on a Saturday morning
- The Clarinet and Saxophone Society have ensembles that rehearse on a Sunday Afternoon
The Band's Repertoire
The Band performs in an exciting range of styles ranging from serious works written for concert band and orchestra through medleys from Broadway shows to jazz standards. Smaller groups within the band also perform as wind quintets, brass quintets, flute choirs, clarinet choirs etc..
In our major performances the Band has recently performed music by composers such as Alfred Reed, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Clare Grundman, Gustav Holst, George Gershwin, Vaclav Nelhybel and Australia’s Percy Grainger, Brian Hogg. All of these composers have made major contributiions to the repertoire for concert band.
The band has an extensive library of music which it has aquired over the last 35 years. We continue to expand this library. Much of the music is now acquired through "Sheetmusicplus.com" who offer an extensive range at very competitive prices. The band receives a small commission for any items that you purchase from "sheetmusicplus.com" through the following link. The commision is in the form of further music that we will add to our library. If you're looking for sheet music, we recommend Sheet Music Plus. They have the world's largest selection, guaranteed low prices, and great customer service.