Sunday, October 19, 2008

New Zealand Brass Bands

New Zealand's brass bands evolved out of English band traditions with many of the early bands being formed between the 1860s and 1880s, first as military bands then industry-related bands. These were later joined by municipal or city bands.

Brass bands are closely linked to working class culture during the English Industrial Revolution. An unbalanced focus on rapid industrialization and urbanization did not provide for much in the way of recreational opportunities. In the UK, more enlightened owners of textile mills, mines (colliery bands), foundries, and factories sponsored brass bands to encourage recreation and provide entertainment for the larger community. The Salvation Army also found the brass band a powerful tool in its evangelizing efforts; however, the Army's spiritual mission precludes its bands from participating in band competitions.

English immigrants to New Zealand continued the tradition, forming brass bands linked to the military, especially after the New Zealand Wars of the 1860s, and industry. For example, The Addington Workshops band of Christchurch was financed by a subscription that all of the railway workshops employees levied on themselves. Woolston Brass was sponsored for many years by Skellerup Industries, a rubber goods manufacturer in the Christchurch suburb of Woolston.

Woolston Brass is to many the premier band in New Zealand, particularly as consistent First Grade street march competition performers (web page here). Watch the tight turn executed at the intersection in the video below.

Woolston Brass: Street March, "Queensbury", Christchurch, NZ.

The New Zealand Army Band has a well- deserved international reputation for its musical ability, versatility, and creativity.

The New Zealand Army Band - Marching display - medley - at Main Parade Ground, Burnham Military Camp, outside Christchurch, June 2007.

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