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South Island in for a treat as the Air Force Band goes on tour

The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Band is tuned up and ready to entertain South Island crowds with a world-class summer schedule.

26 January, 2024

The band will perform a run of public performances through February and March in Blenheim, Ashburton and Timaru before finishing up with an afternoon matinee at Christchurch’s James Hay theatre.

There will be a considerable repertoire of music from big band to bag pipes, marches to musical theatre, and classical to country, showcasing the instrumental versatility and talent of a truly professional military band. 

Director of Music Squadron Leader David Gallaher is excited about the upcoming concerts, and anticipates some superb performances.

“We’re really looking forward to performing on the Mainland,” he said.

“The band is sounding excellent, and we can’t wait to share what a symphonic band is capable of with our audience.”

From Leonard Bernstein’s 20th Century Americana to the classical Italian compositions of Respighi, this summer’s shows will highlight the depth of talent on stage.

Taking the stage will be the iconic RNZAF Drumline, the band’s resident bagpiper Sergeant Murray Mansfield and a dazzling vocal performance from Leading Aircraftman Matt Mulholland.

The trip South is extra special for Ashburton-born Flight Sergeant Ben Robertson, who was thrilled to be heading to his hometown as the ensemble’s Bandmaster.

“It’s been 15 years since the band performed in Ashburton and I can’t wait to play for friends and family,” he said.

“The added bonus is that I get to play a bass trombone solo on Jimmy Webb’s ‘Wichita Lineman’, a pretty nostalgic pop tune.” 

The full-sized 65-strong symphonic band tours to regions around New Zealand every year to give public concerts, performances in schools, to play at charity events and provide coaching to local music students.

The band can also divide into a range of smaller ensembles, such as the Jazz Orchestra, a woodwind trio, a covers band, a wind quintet, and a range of brass ensembles.

The band also maintains a busy schedule of ceremonial duties including parades to mark the arrival of international dignitaries and Anzac Day services.

Members have played in commemorations around the world including significant events in Turkey, Greece, France and Belgium.

Tickets for the RNZAF Band’s upcoming concerts are available here.

Concert venues and dates

  • 28 February, 7pm - ASB Theatre Marlborough, Blenheim
  • 1 March, 7pm - Ashburton Events Centre
  • 2 March, 7pm - Mountainview High School, Timaru
  • 3 March, 1:30pm - James Hay Theatre, Christchurch