“U DE Man!” screamed our 2000-strong Olympic marching band into a mobile phone being held up by World Projects acting general manager Luke Robinson.
The words of encouragement were heard by the general manager of World Projects, American Bill Lutt, lying in his hospital bed and out of action after having been involved in a road accident between Sydney and Bathurst several days before. Luckily, he had only come away with several broken ribs and bruising.
The clapping and cheering that followed this buoyant outburst was enough to shake the baseball stadium at Olympic Park to its foundations.
It was September 13, two days until “The Day” of the opening ceremony and Bill had rung to wish the band all the best for the dress rehearsal that night.
We had already performed to a near capacity crowd on September 9 and tonight it would only be bigger and louder.
While we waited for our call, I remembered looking around me and seeing so much variety. Swedes mixing with Italians, Aussies grouped around singing Americans and boys from Singapore chatting animatedly with New Zealanders.
It was the vision that had inspired Ric Birch and Bill Lutt to create the biggest marching band ensemble on earth, comprising the musicians of the world, playing in the biggest show on earth. And here I was, part of that dream.
The next person to take up the microphone was Barry Spanier. He was the man who put everything together and made it work. He was the lead conductor we would have our eyes fixed on during the show and the one who had earned our deepest respect as an excellent musician and marching instructor.
He had made us march through mud, in below freezing temperatures in Bathurst, making us stand at attention, holding our instruments up for hours. He made us repeat certain moves in our show 20 times over and spurred us along to give our all – and we loved him for it.
The Catholic Leader is an Australian award-winning Catholic newspaper that has been published by the Archdiocese of Brisbane since 1929. Our journalism seeks to provide a full, accurate and balanced Catholic perspective of local, national and international news while upholding the dignity of the human person.
The Catholic Leader acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the First Peoples of this country and especially acknowledge the traditional owners on whose lands we live and work throughout the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane.