"Since the beginning of
recorded history, music of some kind has played a major part in the
lives and affairs of mankind, particularly as an accompaniment to
‘feats of arms',
which served a twofold purpose; firstly, for inspiring troops to
fight, and secondly, as a method of conveying orders and commands.
In battle, this music inspired an excited passion which eloquent
oration failed to inspire. Earliest reference to Military Bands or
bands performing at Military functions date back to the
Pre-Christian era”. (Extracts from the introduction passages of ‘TREATISE
ON THE MILITARY BAND’, by Lt Col H.E. Atkins.) The earliest
record of military bands in South Africa dates back to the 17th
century. Today, the South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF)
twenty Reserve Force and eight Regular Force bands, of which the
South African Navy Band is one, continue this fine tradition.
A military band in Zululand in the 19th
The SA Navy Band is arguably the most versatile band in the SANDF
having various ensembles that can provide music for almost any
occasion. These ensembles include: the Concert and Marching Bands, a
Marimba Ensemble, Chamber Group, Stage/Dance Band and smaller
background music groups - this all from the same 47 musicians -
certainly great value for the tax-payer’s money!
'The Band performs
anywhere between 150 and 200 musical engagements during a
The Band performs anywhere between 150 and 200 musical
engagements during a calendar year. This is no mean feat as
the Band also has to find time to rehearse for upcoming
engagements and new music for future performances.
The repertoire of the Band is diverse and representative of
our country’s many different cultures that make South Africa
such a wonderfully unique country.
The South African Navy Band plays a vital role in promoting the
South African Navy, the People's Navy. With this by way of brief
introduction, let’s meet the various ensembles of the South African
Navy Band …
The core business of the South
African Navy Band is to provide music for ceremonial occasions.
The Band performs on average 63 parades and parade rehearsals a
year. Besides providing music for the South African Navy’s Divisions
(parades) and other ceremonial parades including visiting heads of
states and military and non-military VIPs, the Marching Band also
provides music at the annual opening of Parliament of the Republic
of South Africa.
In recent years the South African Navy Band has participated at the
inauguration of President Mandela in 1994 as well as the
inaugurations of his successor, President Thabo Mbeki, in 1999 and
Since 2002, the Marching Band has become a regular feature on the
International Military Music arena, having performed at the Bremen
Music Show of the Nations, Germany, in January 2002, 2004 and 2008.
In 2003, the Band also participated at The Netherlands National
Tattoo. At all these performances, the SA Navy Band was hailed as
one of the best.
Simon's Town, the Band's home base
The Band has also had the distinguished honour of performing at the
2004 Edinburgh Military Tattoo. A journalist with the Daily
Telegraph, a British National Newspaper, stated “I was blown
away by the South African Navy Band, a riotously informal outfit
that combines conventional military instruments with marimbas,
banjos and African drums. The martial meets township jive in their
exhilarating set, the sax solo is electrifying and the whole
audience joins in with The Lion Sleeps Tonight. This is a band that
really knows how to swing”.
Nationally, the Band has also recently performed at the South
African and Cape Town Tattoos.
The Marching Band consists of