Robert Pattie has been awarded the 2017 Frank Wright Medal in recognition of over 40 years of service to Victorian Community Bands. It honours famous Ballarat musician Frank Wright who conducted bands in Ballarat before an illustrious career in London as a Professor at the Guildhall School of Music and as Director of Music for London County Council. The award is presented annually to a member of the Victorian banding community who has made an extraordinary contribution to banding.
A bio on Robert can be found below:
Robert Pattie was born in Ballarat in on the 19th March 1944. Both his grandfather (Bert) and his father (Ken) have played in the Ballarat City Band. Bert played under Percy Code and Frank Wright and Ken under Alfred Rowell, Harry Shugg, and Charles Smith. Robert is a third generation member of the City of Ballarat Municipal Brass Band with his sister Jan. Robert’s two children and Jan’s two children have also played with the band at one stage.
Robert first learned the cornet in the Ballarat City Junior Band in the early 1950’s, and moved into the Senior Band in 1958. Since then, he has played in A, B, C and D grade bands on Bb Cornet, Eb Soprano Cornet and Flugel Horn. His main position has been and still is Solo Cornet.
Over the years Robert has played with and even conducted many bands in the Western and North Western regions of Victoria. Some of those bands have been Ouyen (whilst teaching at Murryville Vic/NSW Border), Stawell, Maryborough, Beaufort and Bendigo. In 1993 he became a member of the Vintage Brass Band, which rehearses in the Ballarat City Brass Band Rooms.
When the Vintage Brass Band Musical Director Ray Harris became too ill to conduct in 2005, Bob took over the Musical Director Role. A position he still holds to this day. One thing of note is that the Vintage Brass Band was made up of retired Brass Musicians from many different Cities and Towns as far away as Geelong, Ararat and Bendigo and smaller towns such as Maryborough, Daylesford, Beaufort, Warrack, Blampied, Bannockburn, etc. Robert is the only member of the Vintage Brass Band both past and present who can boast that he has had both parents come and listen to him play in the Vintage Brass band.
Robert was made a Life Member of the Ballarat City Brass Band in 1992, and in 1995 was appointed Musical Director. A position he held continuously for ten years. He also has continued as the Assistant Musical since 2005. He has also been the band librarian and historian for over 25 years.
Until 1992, Robert was a Commerce Teacher at Ballarat High School, and presently works full time with both Brass and Jazz Bands. With the latter, he has performed in all Australian States, and toured USA, UK, and Europe.
Robert has always had a strong interest in the History of Ballarat, and this has extended to the history of local bands and the South Street Contest.
As the band historian and also an avid history buff on brass bands in General and Ballarat in particular, he decided to write the history of the Ballarat City Brass Band, from its formation as Bulch’s Model Brass Band in 1887, becoming the City of Ballarat Municipal Brass Band in 1900 up until 2000. This book was released in its 100th anniversary year in 2000. It was approx. 180 pages of facts, names, South Street and other competitions around that the Ballarat City Band were involved in and also includes information on other bands as well. In 2010 Bob Pattie re-released the book but with an added 220 pages of more detailed history of the band from 2000 to 2010. The new book also included another 80 or more articles of history pre 2000 that were not included in the first draft as Bob is constantly finding new history on the band. Many musical historians and others have read the books and have been overwhelmingly praising of his work.
In 2012 Bob released another history book of another Ballarat Brass Band, called Prout’s Ballarat Brass Band. This band was formed in 1857 in the Gold Fields of Ballarat and went on to be one of the most highly decorated drill bands in Australian history. The band folded in 1924. Although a lot smaller (approx. 60 pages) than the Ballarat City Band history it is an extraordinary compilation of the history of Prout’s and other bands in the Ballarat District between 1857 and 1900.
All publications have been stored at the National Library of Australia, the Ballarat City Library and other teaching facilities around Australia. Copies of Prout’s and the Ballarat City Brass Band books are still available from the Ballarat City Brass Band.
Robert Pattie has for many years been involved with not only Brass Bands but also Jazz Groups/Bands. It is his second passion. His most telling Jazz band has been the Creole Bells, who have travelled the world and play at many historical venues, including “Basin Street Blues” of the title refers to the main street of Storyville, the red-light district of early 20th-century New Orleans”. They have also performed and travelled throughout USA, Europe and England as well as all over Australia.
Robert has also been very supportive and instrumental in training many juniors over his whole brass band life. His interests in training younger members of the band started before even his own children started learning brass instruments. He has over the years been the training band MD on several occasions. It would be fair to say that hundreds of brass band musicians have been taught by Robert Pattie. Even today he assists the Ballarat City Brass Band Training Band MD with the 14 juniors the band currently has.
Robert Pattie has been and still is the back bone of the Ballarat City Municipal Brass Band. He has been a member of the band as Junior and Senior playing member for over 60 years and still contributes over and above that expected of any musician in a band. He still acts as the Band Music Librarian, could tell almost to the piece of music what is in the library, and we are talking of over 127 years of music. Original written pieces from the likes of Percy Code and others. He usually can even tell you who arranged the music most of the time as well.
The City of Ballarat Municipal Brass Band has survived as one of not very many bands that have continuously been a brass band without ever having to amalgamate with another band. This is due in part to people like Robert Pattie who are always there behind the scenes, making things happen and getting it done.
Robert has during his time with the band also held every committee position within the Band. He never wanted to be President but in November 2016 he finally relented and took on the role of President. Bob Pattie has been an active committee member on and off for more than 40 years.
Robert may not be as famous as some of the Ballarat City Brass Band legends in days gone by including Percy Code and Frank Wright but his input into the Ballarat City Brass Band has helped keep the band alive and still actively training future Brass band musicians, participating in community events and concerts, as well as competitions.