The Royal New Zealand Air Force Band is about to wing its way around the South Island on its annual summer tour this February.

With concerts in Christchurch, Oamaru, Dunedin, and Wanaka on the calendar, musical variety and high-quality entertainment will be the theme of the tour by the 65-strong symphonic wind band.

Dunedin-based composer Anthony Ritchie’s “Down the Brunner Mine” is on the programme, along with soloist features for the band’s popular Drum Line, flautist Corporal Rebecca Steel and resident bagpiper Flight Sergeant Murray Mansfield QSM. 

The band is touring with singer/comedian Matt Mulholland, who is perhaps best known for his viral video rendition of the Titanic classic “My Heart Will Go On”, performed on recorder over a decade ago, viewed over 33 million times.

Now more known for his skills as a singer/songwriter, although forever haunted by his recorder prowess, Mulholland will join the band to sing a range of songs including tunes from Earth, Wind, and Fire, and Disney film classics.

When asked what he does for a living, the talented multi-instrumentalist has a long list: “I perform as a musician, but I also teach at Te Auaha performing arts school, run a recording studio, create online content, and occasionally pretend to be a handy-man.”

After a number of years living in London, Mulholland is now based in Wellington, living on the coast where his hobbies include penguin-watching in the evenings.

The band’s Director of Music, Flight Lieutenant David Gallaher, hails from Dunedin and is looking forward to returning to his hometown for this tour.

“The Dunedin Town Hall is a special venue, holding many great childhood memories - I began my musical journey as a youngster in the St Kilda Junior Band playing on that stage, and am really looking forward to having the band perform there.

“Another highlight will be linking up with two Dunedin icons: Norma, the famed Town Hall Grand Organ, and Dunedin City Organist, David Burchell.”

Burchell will perform the thrilling finale of Saint-Saëns’ Organ Concerto with the band.

Gallaher is no stranger to touring with bands - along with his work leading the Royal New Zealand Air Force Band, other career highlights include work with the award-winning Woolston Brass in Christchurch, and directing the National Band of New Zealand on a tour of UK and Europe in 2005.

Both he and Mulholland agree that this tour is an opportunity to revisit some incredible South Island venues, including the historic Oamaru Opera House, and as Gallaher puts it, “direct this wonderful band of seriously talented musicians”.

Members of the band are reservists with the Air Force as well as leading contributors to Wellington’s buzzing music scene.

Alongside their work in the band, some also play with the likes of the NZSO and Orchestra Wellington, or tour with NZ bands including Shapeshifter, The Black Seeds, and L.A.B. Many play with a range of Wellington jazz ensembles, teach at the NZSM, work as itinerant instrumental teachers in local schools, and have private teaching studios of their own.

The band is often heard welcoming dignitaries at Government House, or providing music for commemorations at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park. 

It performed at the sold-out 2016 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, and more recently to hundreds of thousands of people at the Nanchang International Military Tattoo in China.

This is an unmissable opportunity for those in the South Island to witness the power of New Zealand’s only full-sized professional symphonic band live in concert.

The Air Force on Tour are now on sale:

Christchurch, February 21st, 2pm: SOLD OUT

Oamaru, February 23rd, 7pm: https://nz.patronbase.com/_OamaruOperaHouse/Performances/List?prod_id=200C&pb_promotion_code=BAND(external link)

Dunedin, February 24th, 7pm: https://www.ticketmaster.co.nz/royal-new-zealand-air-force-band-presents-the-air-force-on-tour-tickets/artist/2769856(external link)

Wanaka, February 26th, 7pm: https://www.eventfinda.co.nz/2021/the-air-force-on-tour/wanaka(external link)

Back to the news