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  1. About Us
  2. FAQ
  3. History of the Band
  4. Photos and Other Links

About Us

We are a community band. The band was created as a gay & lesbian group with the intention of performing in events of the Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras and similar. Nevertheless, it is open for anyone to join regardless of sexual orientation - provided they can play a wind or percussion instrument.

We also run an e-mail list for supporters - people who might be interested in listening to the music while not themselves being performers.

The band is available for hire at reasonable rates.

As well as the full band, we are currently running two smaller groups: a saxophone quartet and a brass quintet.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is a concert band?
  2. But I don't play any of those instruments!
  3. Do you have to be a good player?
  4. What music do we play?
  5. How much does it cost?
  6. Is there a uniform?
  7. Is there any room for vocalists?
  8. How do I hire the band?
  9. Can I buy a recording of the band?

What is a concert band?
A concert band comprises woodwind, brass and percussion. It is not an orchestra since it has no string players. It is not a brass band because it includes woodwinds.

The core instrumentation is:
Flutes, Clarinets, Alto and Tenor Saxophones
Trumpets, Trombones, Tuba, French Horn
Drum kit and miscellaneous percussion.

We would welcome more players of the above instruments, as well as players of Piccolo, Baritone Saxophone, Euphonium, Bass Clarinet, Oboe, Bassoon, Mallet Percussion (e.g.Xylophone), Timpani.

If you play Eb Clarinet, Alto Clarinet, Flugelhorn or Double Bassoon, we could conceivably fit you in, but would rather you played something more generally useful.

Occasionally we have need of players of piano, electric bass or string (double) bass - more usually in concerts.

But I don't play any of those instruments!
If you can read music, you could try the auxiliary percussion parts. How difficult can it be to hit things?

Apart from that, for the Mardi Gras Parade we always need banner bearers, people to keep up a supply of water for thirsty musicians, and things like that - sometimes as many extras as band in fact.

Do you have to be a good player?
If you are an oboist or xylophonist, probably yes. If you play something more common like flute, clarinet or trumpet, you can sit in and play on the easier parts. You'll get better with practice - more than you expect.

What music do we play?
We play a wide range of music. For general gigs in shopping centres and suchlike we tend to stick to pop, jazz, disco and show tunes. For concerts we also do light classics, music specially written for bands, and so on.

How much does it cost?
Currently we charge $50 a year for membership.

Is there a uniform?
Generally we wear all black, with some latitude in interpretation (except for formal concerts), together with a 'rainbow' vest and 'rainbow' hat. The band keeps a small supply of vests and hats for when we need to bring in ring-ins, but members will be expected to buy their own.

Is there any room for vocalists?
Normally we are a totally instrumental group. However for concerts we have joined forces with choirs and vocal soloists. These are special events, and the singers are not members of the band as such.

How do I hire the band?
You can e-mail or phone to discuss hiring rates. We are willing to play for charitable events at reduced rates.

Don't think that you have to take the entire band. We have for example played at parties in a limited space with a group of about seven.

Please remember that at least the drummer and tuba-player will want to sit down.

We don't necessarily require amplification - unless you want us to cover a football field. We do require light to see the music, a fact forgotten surprisingly often.

Can I buy a recording of the band?
At present the only publicly available recording is the DVD of our 10th Anniversary Concert.

We once made a "demo CD" but this had a very limited production run.

Band History

This band was formed in late 1995 by half a dozen people who knew each other from previous attempts to create a Gay Band in Sydney. It performed as the "Little Big Band" during the 1996 Mardi Gras, after which it began rehearsing at the Petersham Inn (the original Caesar's Bar). In succeeding years the ongoing band was supplemented by members of Bent Brass to create a sizeable group during the Mardi Gras period, but had difficulty maintaining itself at other times of the year.

Up to 1999 the band was directed by Les Farnell from behind the tuba. At this point Cathy Chan was appointed as conductor, and a serious effort made to grow the band. The name was changed to the "Sydney Homotones" in 2000. Meanwhile, rehearsals had followed Caesar's Bar to the old APIA club on Parramatta Road, and moved to its current rehearsal space when the bar ceased operating.

The band made its first appearance in the Mardi Gras Parade in 2001, and has been able to continue this in all succeeding years, sometimes teaming up with other groups such as the Rainbow Babies.

In recent years the band has become sufficiently large and proficient that we have been able to put on several concerts. The most recent of these is available on DVD. These concerts have featured a number of guests: Darlene, Justin JBear, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Choir, the Australian Pop Choir. Predecessors The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Concert Band was formed in mid 1991, and played a considerable number of concerts right up to when it disbanded in late 1992. These included appearances at the 1992 Mardi Gras Launch and the Parade of that year. It rehearsed originally in the Mardi Gras building in Boundary St, Darlinghurst, later at Heffron Hall on Liverpool St.

The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Big Band was initiated by some of the concert band players in 1993, and had a more jazz-based focus. It rehearsed initially at Randwick Boys High School and then at the Addison Road Community Centre in Marrickville. It had a successful debut at Mardi Gras Fair Day in 1994, but then disbanded later that year.

There was a rather separate group called Bent Brass, which had no continuous existence, but played from time to time at events of the Metropolitan Community Church in the late 1990's.

Photos and Other Links