Top military brass to play school gig

By Anne-Marie McDonald

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The Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines, which will play a one-off concert at Wanganui Collegiate. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
The Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines, which will play a one-off concert at Wanganui Collegiate. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

They say it's not what you know but who you know ... and that's certainly the case for Wanganui Collegiate's latest fundraiser.

In a finely-tuned military mission, the Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines - not only Britain's finest brass band, but arguably the world's - will next week play a rare New Zealand concert. And it will be here in Wanganui.

The concert will raise money for the restoration of Collegiate chapel's historic organ, and the connection is that the son of the British defence attache is a student at the school.

Collegiate head of music Nicholas Grigsby said when the subject of fundraising for the 90-year organ was raised, the boy's father offered to help.

"The band is going to Australia for the 100th anniversary of the Royal Australian Navy and he suggested that if they were so close, perhaps they would come across to New Zealand," Mr Grigsby said.

The band agreed to make the trip to Wanganui if suitable transport could be found. The Australian air force came to the party by offering to lend a plane to fly band members into Ohakea and back to Australia.

Because travelling space will be limited, Brass Wanganui members will lend their instruments for the one-off performance at the school's Prince Edward Auditorium. Mr Grigsby said British miliary security had visited Wanganui to ensure the band's safety.

He said the Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines was arguably the best brass band in the world. "Nothing like this will ever be seen in Wanganui again - it's a once in a lifetime opportunity."

All proceeds from the concert will go toward restoring the 1926 organ, a job expected to cost about $700,000.

A four-course dinner catered by Jo Power will be held at the school for band members and guests before the concert.

The Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines will perform at 7.30pm, October 2, with the pre-concert dinner to be held at 5pm. Tickets for the dinner and concert, and the concert only, are available from the Royal Wanganui Opera House.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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