Remembering World Expo ’88 and the Expo City Marching Band

Expo City Marching Band show at the Piazza. 28957 Douglas Isaac Papers 1988, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Expo City Marching Band show at the Piazza

In 1988, Brisbane staged the unforgettable World Expo ’88, and from April to October that year the South Bank was filled with sights and sounds and crowds from all over the world. One of the highlights of an Expo day was the appearance of the Expo City Marching Band, an accomplished outfit whose drills and antics were as entertaining as the music they played. For most Australian Expo visitors, the Expo City Marching Band was their first experience of American style formation drills and drumming. Over 350 young musicians auditioned in cities all over Australia to score a spot in the colourful 65-member line-up, and their Director Barry Spanier and Percussion Instructor Douglas Isaac led them through a daily schedule of rehearsals, drills, parades and performances that culminated in a nightly show in the Piazza.

Percussionists of the Expo City Marching Band. 28957 Douglas Isaac Papers 1988, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Percussionists of the Expo City Marching Band

In 2013, Douglas Isaac donated his considerable archive to the State Library. As a percussionist and music educator Mr Isaac not only auditioned, trained and conducted the Band’s percussionists prior to and during Expo ’88, but also composed and arranged for the ensemble. For several weeks he too put on a uniform and marched with the Band as a cymbal player.

Percussion Instructor Douglas Isaac. 28957 Douglas Isaac Papers 1988, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland

Percussion Instructor Douglas Isaac

The collection includes manuscript scores and parts for music composed or arranged for the Percussion Ensemble, drill diagrams for each piece played as part of the daily and nightly shows in the Piazza, Expo ’88 and Band uniforms, video footage, and plenty of photographs of the Band in action. The Douglas Isaac papers are now available via State Library’s One Search catalogue, and you can view the video footage online.

Expo style. 28957 Douglas Isaac Papers 1988, John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland
Expo style

Robyn Hamilton – Queensland Music Coordinator, State Library of Queensland