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Navy band breaks its 32-year silence

SIMON MAUDE
Last updated 05:00 20/03/2014
Naval Museum

BEST PRACTICE: Rehearsing outside the Devonport Naval Museum the navy’s 30-strong band has plenty of space, unlike their tiny recording studio, where the band had to record tracks in shifts.

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A determined rejuvenation of the Royal New Zealand Navy Band has seen it record its first album in 32 years.

The 30-strong band cut 18 tracks in just over four days at Ponsonby's Stebbing recording studio.

He Waita Moana, or Ocean Songs, captures the band's virtuosity with a broad range of genres and colloborations.

Simon O'Neill, the principal tenor at New York's Metropolitan Opera, provided vocals on two tracks including Puccini's spine-tingling Nessun Dorma.

Lieutenant Commander Owen Clark, who has been the navy's director of music and band conductor for only 18 months, says pushing the band really paid-off.

"Recording the CD is a good thing for the band, it's confidence and it's morale. It's a big achievement, it gives the band a bit of status and prestige," he says.

Band members Able Musicians Jessica Hix (percussion) and Colin Clarke (trumpet) say listening to the album was a revelation.

"It was good to hear what we sound like," Able Musician Hix says. When busy playing "there's bits you just don't hear", Able Musician Clarke says.

Albe Musician Clarke described the recording process as "bloody stressful" but it took the band to "another level", he says.

"I'd like to thank the producers for making us sound so good," he says.

The recording costs for He Waita Moana will be recouped through album sales, concertgoers can purchase copies for $20.

The band won't rest on its laurels, the band will aim to produce an album every two years, he says.

He Waita Moana is available at The Warehouse, JB Hi-Fi, Marbecks and iTunes.

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- North Shore Times

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