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Hooked on Soweto

'...the South African Navy Band, a riotously informal outfit that combines conventional military instruments with marimbas, banjos and African drums'

 

Overview

"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 century

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 calendar year'

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 …

Marching 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 2004.

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 40 musicians.

The tuba is the largest
and lowest pitched
brass instrument.
It is one of the
most recent
additions to
the modern
symphony
orchestra.

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revision date: Tuesday, March 09, 2010

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