Strike up the band

By Roger Moroney

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The Navy Band at last year's Swing and a Prayer Art Deco service - which will again be one of their many musical outings this weekend. Photo / File
The Navy Band at last year's Swing and a Prayer Art Deco service - which will again be one of their many musical outings this weekend. Photo / File

They are one group of Tremains Art Deco Weekend devotees who are always guaranteed to be seen and heard - as well as greatly enjoyed.

The Navy Band is led by Lieutenant Commander Owen Clarke who is making his second conducting visit with the band to Napier.

"I am really looking forward to it, we all are, because it is such an amazing event - the whole town becomes transformed."

The band has been making the overland voyage to the big weekend for more than a dozen years now and is a vital part of the naval link with the city.

Which made one of the many concerts on the schedule very special, Lieutenant Commander Clarke said.

As in past years they will play at the conclusion of the Swing and a Prayer Memorial Service at the Waiapu Cathedral of St John which gets underway at 5pm on Sunday.

The service features the often harrowing and heroic stories of several survivors of the disastrous 1931 Hawkes' Bay earthquake - the event which created a unique bond between the civilian populace and the navy, with the crew of the visiting HMS Veronica heading straight ashore to help with the initial rescue efforts.

New Zealand naval personnel also headed to Napier to help.

The band will perform a short concert for what is expected to be a full house. Equally special was being able to share their music with young and old, with a schools and public concert today at the Napier Municipal Theatre

The Navy Band Art Deco Extravaganza schools show will kick off at 11am and the public concert at 1.30pm, with tickets available at the theatre.

Lieutenant Commander Clarke said the 30-strong band, which will be playing "a little bit of everything from Glenn Miller to the 1812 Overture" has added another performance to its programme to coincide with the official public opening of the big weekend being staged at the Sound Shell at 7.30 tonight.

It is effectively a "Beat the Retreat" - a tradition in the military to remember those who have fallen in combat.

The band will play several tunes and finish with a bugle solo.

It will return to the Sound Shell tomorrow night for the always popular public "Saturday Night at the Shell" concert which will spark into life at 9am and go through to midnight. On Sunday they will turn out for the full military Veronica Bell service at the Sound Shell colonnade at 12.30pm. They will also be a foot-tapping, hand-clapping component of the big parade up Emerson St tomorrow.

Lieutenant Commander Clarke also promised something a little different at some outings. "We have managed to hook up with some swing dancers - so that'll be fun."

The band set out on Tuesday and stopped over for an appearance at Gisborne. "We kept coming across all these great old cars heading south - we knew straight away where they were heading."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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