The crosscurrents and braided rivers of brass playing in New Zealand

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


On 2 June 1845, the first British style brass band arrived in New Zealand: it was the Australian based 58th Regiment band of the British Imperial Forces. Thomson (1991) suggests that this event was first significant beginning of a brass band movement in New Zealand. British migrants to New Zealand brought with them banding too, and by the end of the 19th century bands were established up and down the country with contests modelled on those of the United Kingdom. The establishment of orchestras in New Zealand was slower, and it was not until 1946 that a permanent national orchestra was formed. Prior to this, regional orchestras (some of which were professional, such as the orchestra assembled for the 1906 International Exhibition in Christchurch) were reliant on musicians from brass bands to fill places.
Whilst New Zealand bands still have very close relationships with professional orchestras (resulting in a number of large-scale concerto grosso style works for band and orchestra), this paper explores the notion that the establishment of a national orchestra resulted in professional brass playing in New Zealand being influenced by North American approaches, and that brass playing in the country is now a crosscurrent, or using the more geographically germane term of Martin Lodge (2016), a ‘braided river’ between North America, United Kingdom and New Zealand itself. In addition to a brief literature review, I will offer an autoethnographical perspective on brass playing in New Zealand, and will suggest how in the future, the sound of brass from New Zealand may become more distinctive in what is otherwise an increasingly global, centripetal and homogenised musical landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2021
EventHistoric Brass Society Virtual Symposium: Pond Life: Crosscurrents over the Atlantic - Zoom and University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 24 May 202126 May 2021


ConferenceHistoric Brass Society Virtual Symposium
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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