RSL Canberra has given the ACT’s community bands their marching orders from this year’s Anzac Day ceremony, telling them that their services are no longer required.
The move has upset band members, with one feeling gutted, after performing with the Canberra City Band on every Anzac Day since 2005, and at ceremonies in France.
RSL Canberra President John King has told bands in a letter that the veterans organisation had requested the Australian War Memorial trial a new audio system designed to resolve issues with the march music.
“You will appreciate that for many years there have been issues with the march music, including inconsistent tempos and audibility, that have been a concern to our marching veterans,” Mr King wrote.
He said the ‘Delay Stack’ system would provide a synchronised transmission of the music performed by the Royal Military College Band from its position on the AWM Memorial Parade Ground along the length of Anzac Parade.
“The unfortunate consequence of this change is that your band will not be required to perform for the marching contingents on Anzac Day this year,” Mr King said.
Bands affected include the Canberra City Band, Salvation Army band, Canberra City Pipes and Drums, and the Australian Defence Force Academy Band.
Mr King told them their contribution had been significant and appreciated over many years and greatly appreciated by veterans and spectators, and thanked them on behalf of the AWM and the RSL.
Canberra City Band president Stephen Halliburton said the decision was disappointing and taken without any consultation.
Former Army reservist and Canberra City Band bass trombonist Simon Mitchell said the bands had not been approached to address the RSL’s concerns.
“There could be issues when the march actually starts, the different timing, different speeds, but it’s not as if the veterans are on the parade ground marching, they are a little bit out of practice,” Mr Mitchell said.
He said people at the march had told the band members how much they appreciated their contribution, and that music was his way of paying his respects to serving members of the Defence Force and veterans.
“I’ve toured to France and played with Canberra Brass and I’m doing it again in September-October. I’ve played at Villers-Bretonneux. To be locked out of my national ceremony without any ability to address the issues that might have been experienced is gut-wrenching,” he said.
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