10 May 2019
Ashburton man and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Bandmaster Sergeant Ben Robertson is promising something for everyone during this year’s annual Air Force on Tour concert.
The band’s popular concert, which will be held at Methven’s Mt Hutt Memorial Theatre on 24 May, will feature a range of musical styles, from Dvorak to Queen, and Kenneth Alford to George Gershwin, led by outstanding vocalist Leading Aircraftman Barbara Graham.
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 performances.
The 65-member band is made up of New Zealand Defence Force Reservists, many of whom are active in Wellington’s music scene.
Sergeant Robertson, who recently returned from conducting the NZDF Anzac Day contingent at Chunuk Bair in Gallipoli, is looking forward to performing near his home town Ashburton.
“I’m really excited to be bringing such a talented group of musicians on a home-coming of sorts,” he said.
“It’s great to be able to show off the awesome versatility of the RNZAF Band.”
Sergeant Robertson has made a career out of military music, starting with the New Zealand Army Band in 2003.
After studying trombone at undergraduate level in Wellington and then at postgraduate level in London, he returned to Wellington in 2014 to join the RNZAF Band and was appointed Bandmaster in 2018.
A highlight was travelling to Turkey with the NZDF Contingent in 2015 for the centenary of the Gallipoli landings.
“That was one of the defining moments of New Zealand military history and was such an honour to be a part of,” he said.
He rates the RNZAF Band as the best symphonic band in the country, with unbelievable players.
“There is a very high standard of playing and a great mix of ages and types of musicians,” he said.
When not busy working with the band, Sergeant Robertson enjoys spending time with his wife and son, as well as conducting and performing with other groups around Wellington.
The Air Force on Tour concert is in the Mt Hutt Memorial Theatre on Friday, 24 May at 7pm. Tickets from Methven iSite (03) 302 8955.