After 14 years with Preston Band, Champion Principal Euphonium player, Mr. Michael Mears, has made the heart wrenching decision to retire from full time banding to spend more time with his young family.
Before joining Preston, Michael had played Principal Euphonium for both Footscray-Yarraville City Band and the Hawthorn Band (winning 4 Australian Band Championship “A Grade” titles and an “American Brass Band Association” title, over a 12 year period, with the latter). He was also made a life member of the Footscray-Yarraville City Band for his outstanding service.
Joining Preston Band in 2005 (then under the direction of his brother, Jason Mears) Michael’s impact was immediate. He set a new standard in musicianship and professionalism, which became the catalyst for a culture change that has seen Preston steadily rise to become one of Australia’s premier "A Grade" bands.
During his 14 years with Preston, Michael has held committee positions, taken numerous rehearsals and sectionals, and occasionally conducted the band in concert appearances. In 2015, he was awarded a life membership for his exceptional commitment and leadership to Darebin City Brass.
Undoubtedly, however, Michael’s greatest contribution to Preston Band has been his exceptional playing. With a sound and musicality matched by few, Michael delivered, time and time again, on both the contest and concert stage, earning high praise from adjudicators and concert goers alike.
Band President Chris Lee reflected on Michael’s time with the band:
“Michael changed our band and changed me as a musician. His approach to playing, his musicality and technical mastery was a real eye-opener. I didn’t know people could play like that! Aside from his skill as a Euphonium player, it was his dedication and commitment to the band that also impressed me - he is a true bandsman. He led by example and showed us what it took to be the best. Darebin City Brass will forever be in his debt.”
Musical Director Andrew Snell also had high praise for his departing Principal Euphonium player:
“Mick Mears is a legend, pure and simple. As a conductor, he's exactly what you want in your band. Dedicated, loyal, reliable and above all a truly great player. On top of that though, Mick's a great person to have in your band - he leads by example, has a wicked sense of humour and has been a great support to me in my time conducting Preston. I'm really sad to see him go, but am also incredibly pleased to see him go out at a time of his choosing while he's absolutely at the top of his game...not many great players get to do that. Our recent performance of Hypercube in Brisbane was a great one to finish on and absolute proof of his quality as a player. He'll be missed by all of us in Preston band, but his performances will be missed by all brass band fans across Australia.”
Principal Cornet player George Melitsis summed up Michael's time with the band as follows:
“Mick never missed rehearsal. He never missed a band engagement. He was always prepared and always nailed it to the back wall. His unfailing commitment, and his incredibly consistent musicianship have had a huge impact on the way I, and countless others, now approach banding. He taught us to take pride in all of our playing - that’s Mick’s legacy. It has been a great honour to sit opposite him for the last 10 years and learn from his example. Mick’s a true bandsman who leaves Preston with the respect and friendship of all our players and supporters.”
Michael’s final engagement with Preston was at the recent National Band Championships in Brisbane, where Preston won the Own Choice component of the contest. Michael (as always), played a blinder, in a performance that will long live on in the memories of all involved - a truly fitting end to a career of over 30 years in full time “A Grade” banding.
Everyone at Darebin City Brass sincerely wishes Mick and his beautiful young family all the very best for the future!