NEW HOME: The Whitsundays Big Band is looking for a new venue to practise in.
NEW HOME: The Whitsundays Big Band is looking for a new venue to practise in. Georgia Simpson

Band so big it can't play a gig

A LOVE of music has fuelled the Whitsundays Big Band for almost four years.

Band members travel from as far north as Bowen, and as far south as Mackay for the monthly practices held in Proserpine.

They only practice once a month, because of how spread out the members are.

The musicians practice purely for the enjoyment of making music, because the band is in fact too big to play in most venues around the Whitsundays.

"We played at the Whitsunday Sailing Club a few years back, but it was a tight squeeze," band manager Mike Leyland told the Whitsunday Coast Guardian.

He said the Proserpine Entertainment Centre was the only venue big enough for all the band members to fit comfortably, but with it being out of action since last year, it wasn't a viable option for the group.

Saxophone player Denise Veenstra said the band played loud, high impact music. "What we are most wanting, is a place to play where people can come and enjoy the music, a venue where it's not background music," she said.

The band originally came together in early 2015 to play for Proserpine State High School's musical Oliver.

The musical was a roaring success, and friendships were formed through the band members' shared passion of music.

Inspired, the Whitsundays Big Band was formed, with 17 members representing all age groups and comprised of former professional musicians, music teachers and former high school instrumental musical students. With five saxophones, five trumpets, three trombones, a piano, bass drums and two vocalists, it's the Whitsundays' largest musical ensemble.

Ms Veenstra said the level of talent in the band was incredible.

"There are some seriously good musicians in that band. The opportunity to hear that and to play with them is a fantastic experience."

Mr Leyland describes being unable to play at many venues as "like being an artist without anywhere to hang your portraits".

"I don't know why I love it, why we all love it. Why does anyone like anything?" It's what's inside you, it's coming from the heart," he said.

There are unconfirmed reports the band may play at this year's Airlie Beach Festival of Music.


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