Kapiti-Based Drummer Can't Wait For Air Force in Concert

28 September 2018

Leading Aircraftman Sam MacKenzie is eager to drum up a storm when he performs next week in the Royal New Zealand Air Force Band’s annual concert in Wellington.

“I’m most looking forward to our drum line pieces, one of which is new and we’ve spent a lot of time working on”, Leading Aircraftman MacKenzie said.

This year the band’s popular Air Force in Concert, on 6 October, has been moved to the larger Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington, which also provides improved acoustics on previous venues.

The concert will feature a range of musical styles, from John Williams to John Farnham, and from Sousa to Puccini, led by outstanding vocalists Leading Aircraftmen Barbara Graham and Stephanie Paris. Talented piper Flight Sergeant Murray Mansfield will get the feet stomping with some Celtic melodies, while the band’s Drumline are promising dramatic innovation on last year’s electrifying performance.

The 65-member band is made up of New Zealand Defence Force Reservists, many of whom are active in Wellington’s music scene.

Leading Aircraftman MacKenzie, 20, who lives in Kapiti, knew little about ceremonial guard drumming before joining the Royal New Zealand Air Force Band in 2016.

After attending Western Heights High School in Rotorua, he enrolled to study Jazz Performance through the New Zealand School of Music in Wellington, where he met some of his current band mates, who were also enrolled.

“It’s a musical path I didn’t think I’d be involved in so soon, but when presented with the opportunity, I grabbed it,” he said.

“I attended one of the band’s rehearsals, and became more and more involved in various activities, such as catafalque guards.”

Earlier this year he travelled to France and Belgium for Anzac Day commemorations, where the band played at the Last Post Ceremony at Menin Gate, Ieper.

Reciting the ode in Te Reo before the band played in front of the entire ceremony was a highlight, he said.

“Initially I shied away from the idea, because public speaking is not my forte.”

However, with encouragement and support from his peers, he embraced the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“I’ve had no regrets at all – it’s a memory that will last a lifetime.”


This page was last reviewed on 7 February 2019.