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National Band to Perform

1st June 2005

National Band to Perform

The prestigious National Band of New Zealand will have no less than 16 players from Canterbury amongst its ranks when it performs at the James Hay Theatre later this month on the eve of its European Tour and the World Brass Band Championships.

Thirteen players are from the NZ Community Trust Woolston Brass, three from Canterbury Foundation Brass with four from Marlborough District Brass. All 35 musicians are auditioned and places are keenly sought after.

The Musical Director is also a Woolston man in Mr David Gallaher, well known in the New Zealand and Christchurch music scene.

Soloists featured in the concert include Roanna Cooper (Percussion) Riki McDonnell (Euphonium) and Philip Johnston (Tuba/BBb Bass)
The prestigious Aotearoa Maori Cultural Group will accompany the band on tour and feature in joint items as well, these talented young Maori, who are chosen for their expertise in all facets of performance, will perform their own selection of ancient chants, war dances, action songs and poi dances.

The repertoire for the band will feature music from the classics to light rock including well known composers such as Berlioz, Mancini and Respighi as well as New Zealand commissioned pieces from Kenneth Young, Anthony Ritchie and a selection of brass band composers including Peter Graham, Ray Farr and Goff Richards.

Spokesman Owen Melhuish says “ the combination of brass and Maori singers is a tradition going back to the 1960’s and is unique in the world”

The farewell concert is at the James Hay Theatre Thursday 23rd June at 7.30pm. Tickets from Ticketek ph 377 8899 or HYPERLINK "" or at any Ticketek outlet. Further details on the band and tour available on

Brass band music is truly a part of New Zealand’s cultural heritage. It was introduced to this small country soon after the brass band movement took root in Victorian England. Today almost every city in New Zealand has its own brass band. So it is perhaps not surprising that since its formation over 50 years ago, the National Band of New Zealand has won worldwide acclaim for its brilliant musicianship and technical virtuosity.

The National Band of New Zealand has thrilled millions of enthusiastic listeners at many international events including the 1953 Coronation festivities in London, the Edinburgh Festival, the New York World Fair, Los Angeles County Fair, Canadian Exhibition, Expo 70 in Japan and three Commonwealth Games. It is regarded by a number of authorities as one of the world’s foremost brass bands. The National Band of New Zealand has undertaken 14 previous national and international tours since its inception. Countries visited include the United States of America, Canada, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Russia, Greece, Japan and Australia.

Contest successes include the 1953 British Open Championship at Belle Vue, Manchester, three times world Championship Marching Band at the World Music Concourse, Kerkrade, the Netherlands and winner of the 1978 International Band Festival, Toronto, Canada. At the 1978 World Music Concourse at Kerkrade, the National Band of New Zealand was awarded 3 gold medals with distinction. This was the highest number of medals ever awarded to any group.

In 1953 the now infamous first National Band of New Zealand visited Britain over a 17 week period, having sailed from New Zealand. In this time it performed 170 concerts and marching displays, one of the highlights being a Royal Command Performance before the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

The band competed in the Edinburgh Festival and the British Open Championships at Belle Vue. At Belle Vue the band, under Musical Director K G L Smith, took everyone by surprise, not the least themselves, by winning first prize playing the test piece The Three Musketeers by George Hespe. Said K G L Smith at the time - " I did not think for one moment think we would win. Our style and sound was completely different from the British bands."
This event is now etched into many bands people memories around the globe as an historic musical moment when an antipodean band beat British brass bands on their own soil.

The organisers of the fifteenth World Music Concourse to be held in Kerkrade, the Netherlands in July 2005, have decided to introduce a special ‘World Brass Band Championship’ and have hand delivered invitations to the top Brass Bands from throughout the world. These Bands will come from New Zealand, United States of America, Scandinavia, Great Britain and Europe. It promises to be a very exciting event and based upon their past successes, the National Band of New Zealand is very keen to be part of this prestigious event.

The thirty five members of this National Band of New Zealand have been selected by audition from 70 community bands throughout the nation and represent our very top players, resulting in a very high professional standard being attained. They come from a wide range of occupations.

Music played by the National Band of New Zealand includes symphonic brass works, transcriptions of classical music, light music, marches and instrumental features.

Aotearoa Maori Cultural Group
Fascinating glimpses of the art and culture of New Zealand’s Maori people are provided by the group of twelve entertainers accompanying the 2005 National Band of New Zealand on its four week tour of Singapore, Great Britain, Germany and the Netherlands.

Items presented by these talented young Maori, who are chosen for their expertise in all facets of performance, include ancient chants and war dances, action songs and poi dances.

The haka, which is generally understood to mean a war dance, is probably an inclusive term for all forms of Maori dance. In essence it is a controlled rhythmic response of voice and body which gives the fullest possible meaning to the story being unfolded.

In the poi dance, the graceful turn of the head following the ever-twirling poi, the swing of the body and the shift of weight from one foot to the other, all help to distinguish this from the indigenous dances of other races. Poi’s are soft flaxen balls attached to lengths of cord. They are swung in increasingly intricate patterns to vocal accompaniment.

“Titotorea”, meaning stick games, is another popular form of Maori entertainment. It requires strict co-ordination of hand and eye as the sticks pass from hand to hand, in time with the melody.

It is appropriate that “Aotearoa” should be chosen as the name of the Maori Cultural Group travelling with the National Band of New Zealand. Aotearoa, meaning ‘the land of the long white cloud’, was the name given to New Zealand when the Maori race first sighted the land at the time of the Great Migration from Hawaiki about 1350 AD.

The Maoris are an essentially musical people and their traditional singing combines a delicacy and accuracy of tone unknown in the western world. The spirit of Maori entertainment is centered upon togetherness and this makes the music more meaningful.


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