April 3, 2012
Newfoundland and Australia : Old Music Connection
With Great Big Sea on tour in Australia we must be reminded that there was an earlier musical Newfoundland- Australian connection. This connection goes back to 1820’s.
Francis Forbes’s, Chief Justice of Newfoundlandand later first Chief Justice of Australia is credited with writing “The Banks of Newfoundland”.
Most would immediately recognize the tune as “Up the Pond,” the familiar music at the annual St. John’s Regatta and a piece steeped in the tradition of North America’s oldest continuing sporting event.
“The Banks of Newfoundland” enjoyed a populist appeal in nineteenth-century Newfoundlandthat would have likely astounded Justice Forbes.
Initially published for solo piano by Oliver Ditson of Boston, the piece became best known as a regimental march performed by the Band of the Royal Newfoundland Companies and a variety of other military and civilian ensembles active inNewfoundlandat the time.
Processions, festivals, dinners, soirees, and the like were frequently enlivened with renditions of the popular tune, a tradition that began in the 1820s and proliferated in the years following the granting of representative government.
At the turn of the twentieth century it was considered an unofficial national anthem of Newfoundlandand has remained the march commonly associated with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.
To celebrate Chief Justice Forbes and his connection with Newfoundland and Australia – perhaps Great Big Sea will play this great tune on their Australian Tour.
Great Big Sea dates in Australia include: April 3 -Melbourne; April 5 -Sydney; and April 9 at Byron Bay.
Recommended Reading: Australian Dictionary of Biography http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/forbes-sir-francis-2052
Recommended Reading: Imagining Nation: Music and Identity in Pre-Confederation Newfoundland, Newfoundland and Labrador Studies. Volume 22, Number 1 (2007), Glenn Colton
Recommended to Listen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNVQdwzMKpA