Band leader’s award is music to his ears
LAST month, Portland Citizens’ Brass Band president Ben Rietman was bestowed with the organisation’s highest honour – a life membership.
The 76-year-old became just the 24th person to receive the distinction in the band’s 160-year history joining the ranks of Stan Jarrett, Cecil Baker and Sharryn Thompson.
Mr Rietman sat down with the Portland Observer to reflect on his long journey with the Portland Citizens’ Brass Band.
“I started with the Portland Citizens’ Brass Band in 1959 at 13 years old,” Mr Rietman said.
“My mate Bernie Roos was in the band and asked if I wanted to join.”
While he was a keen lover of music, Mr Rietman didn’t have a musical background, so he landed in the percussion section of the band.
“I took up the side drum because, while there are five lines of notes on a music sheet, there is only one line for the side drum.
“I just can’t read the music quick enough – my eyesight is not the best.
“I remember taking a drum home one night to practice; the thing was my family lived behind the hospital at the time and my mum was the cook.
“She came home to say “management has asked me to tell you to stop drumming!”.”