|15 Dec 2022|
Greg Allardice wound the clock back more than half a century, and for a moment time stood still.
Drumsticks in hand, the spry 72-year-old was back on the quad where he first performed with the Trinity marching band in Junior School.
This time he was playing alongside today’s Trinity schoolboys as the old blended with the new to celebrate the band’s 70th anniversary.
As he looked around at the fresh faces he felt it was like looking into a mirror and seeing himself in the 1960s.
“I saw my younger self in the band members,” said the drum major from 1969.
“At rehearsal the number one drummer gave me a coaching lesson before we went out on parade. It could have been that I was him and he was me.
“Frankly nothing had changed. It was like time had simply stood still.
“I was transported back to being a 13-year-old, joining the band for the first time and remembering the power of brass and drums and the decibels they can create.
“It was a very special invitation, quite unexpected. It was a wonderful time to associate with the younger members, and they were very keen to hear about the Trinity band from the 1960s.”
Mr Allardice was one of 13 Old Boys who combined with current students to form a resplendent, 68-strong ensemble that produced a vibrant wall of sound in every direction around the quad.
Their concert included Eye Of The Tiger, their most requested piece ever, Van Halen’s up-tempo Jump; In the Stone by Earth Wind and Fire; and Metallica’s Master of Puppets. It finished with Waltzing Matilda in homage to the national heritage.
His fondest memories from yesteryear were of the camaraderie with his bandmates and the discipline of their drill.
“When we went on parade we looked first class every time.
“Being in a band is like being in a family. If you’re in a band for, say, six years it’s a big commitment of time, it’s a big impost on your family, but most importantly it gives you an outlook on life that is priceless.
“It gives you that sense of discipline, of esprit de corps. When you put on that green jacket and that white helmet, and you’re on parade, it’s a very proud moment, and you’re doing it for your School.
“The spirit of the band lives on, and the music is fantastic. Music is happiness, music is universal, and music has always been a big part of Trinity.”
Band Master Chris Aschman said Mr Allardice did not miss a beat.
“The Old Boys fitted in like they had never been away,” he said.
Many have made a career out of music, either as performing musicians, working in the industry or teaching, including two-time ARIA nominee Daniel Furnari, drummer of metal band Polaris.
The marching band has a busy schedule every year, performing twice a term with a four to five week lead time.
Its regular engagements include farewelling the School’s CAS swimmers and athletes, symphonic events including the mid-year Gala Concert, and ceremonial occasions such as ANZAC Day marches, the School’s ANZAC Day commemoration, and the Cadet Ceremonial Parade.
The band turns out regularly in the City of Sydney ANZAC Day march, but in 2022 played at the Huskisson RSL on the South Coast, near the School’s Field Studies Centre at Woollamia.
“The boys played in the pouring rain but they loved every moment of it, performing for the community down there,” said Mr Aschman.
“They marched with the sailors from the Navy officer training school HMAS Creswell, and it was an amazing event.”
He said the band programme taught students about teamwork, discipline, and resilience.
If you’ve ever had to carry around a bass drum, baritone sax or tuba while marching and playing you will understand the resilience required.
“It also teaches some of the soft skills such as non-verbal communication. The boys are listening to each other, always making minute decisions, while producing a performance that looks seamless.
“Their job is to make it look easy but there is so much work going on in the background, and so much work required beforehand, to make that happen.
“Above all the band is all about service to our school community.”
For boys thinking about joining, Mr Aschman said the big drawcard was fun.
“You’re going to get to experience playing in an ensemble. Playing music by yourself can be a very lonely profession. It’s only when you get to play together and strive together to achieve a programme of music or a goal that you truly discover what music is all about.
“In fact the relationship between music and playing in a sporting team or excelling in academics are so close. We use the same performance psychology and mindset to get the best out of our musicians here at Trinity.”
Mr Aschman himself started out in a high school band in Tasmania when he was lucky enough to be given a trombone and “fell in love with it”.
He played with the A grade Glenorchy City concert brass band before moving into military bands, including the Navy Reserve band in Hobart, the Victorian naval band, and the Royal Australian Navy fleet band. One memorable occasion included welcoming home sailors from the first Gulf War in Sydney on Navy Day in 1991.
After his stint in the Navy he studied orchestral music at ANU, where he was the principal bass trombone of the Canberra Symphony Orchestra, as well as performing with members of both the London and Chicago symphony orchestra brass sections in festival events.
Mr Allardice’s recollections of school days may surprise many modern-day boys, particularly the fact that Bren light machine guns and mortars were stored on site at school, and boys travelled freely on trains and buses carrying their .303 rifles.
“In my day we were part of the army cadets, part of the Australian Army; we were trained by professional drill sergeants.
“We were all allocated a .303 rifle which was stored at school; we also had Bren guns and mortars on site. We used to take our rifles home with us before camp at Singleton every September. We would march out of Trinity with our .303 over our shoulder, our drum on the left hand side, our kit bag and our school bag. We’d get on the train and the bus and march home with all of it!”
The band also used to march out of the school gates and down Prospect Rd to Summer Hill, and “the traffic used to stop for us”.
Walking around the quadrangle, seeing the Dining Hall and the Chapel, Mr Allardice felt nothing much had changed.
“But go a little bit further west and wow! It’s a whole new school.” What, then, might he think when the Renewal Project is finished?
“It’s good to see that the School is keeping pace with modernisation,” he said. “What the School has done over those 50-plus years is simply wonderful.”
The really important things, though, are not tangible like bricks and mortar.
“The learnings we have had from Trinity have come back to repay us tenfold. As you get into tricky situations in your life, or things become hard, the lessons we learned at Trinity have stood us in good stead.
“Trinity Grammar was for me the best school I could possibly ever have gone to.
“We learned a way of life, the Trinity way of life.”
This article originally appeared in our December Edition of Trinity News. You can request a physical copy of Trinity News or view our digital bookshelf here.
To view the highlight reel click here
Old Boys who performed in the School’s 70th anniversary concert were:
Greg Allardice (1969) owner and managing director of Media Futures, specialist media services company;
Lachlan Crook (2010) pipe drummer who works with leading retailer Optimum Percussion; Daniel Furnari (2011), drummer and composer with metal band Polaris;
David Shirley (2011) freelance drummer, teacher and music producer at Yellowstone;
Chris Jeffree (2019) student at University of Notre Dame;
Ryan Whitford (2020) freelance composer studying composition at the Conservatorium of Music;
James West (2011) freelance musician and music teacher;
Callum Arnold (2017) professional youth soccer coach;
Chris Saintilan (2018) student commercial pilot;
Max Norington (2019) communications and film student at Macquarie University;
Stuart Smith (1989) Chaplain at TGS Preparatory School;
Michael Manikas (1990) general manager DLG Shape, a majority Aboriginal-owned construction business;
Jack Braga (2020) student at UNSW Business School.