South Island Corner – Otago Symphonic Band

By James Bevin

Welcome to the Bandbeat South Island Corner, where I will be doing my best to keep tabs on the latest and greatest South Island Concert Band activities. For this issue I decided to feature the Otago Symphonic Band with whom I have played with in the past. When I asked the Band’s President Bruce Thompson to tell us a little bit about the band, he had this to say:


“The Otago Symphonic Band was started by Bill Henderson, the Southern Sinfonia’s principle trombonist, in the early 1990s. We have attracted a wide range of musicians, from secondary school and tertiary students to older community performers. At present there are about 35 regular members, and the band is strong in all sections apart from the double reeds. We are looking forward to a bassoon player joining us next year, but would love to have an oboe or two as well.


The band performs in two major, and three minor concerts each year, performing classical, jazz, film, and contemporary music. This year (in conjunction with the University of Otago’s music department) we started what we hope will be a biannual New Zealand Composition Competition, and performed a number of the entered works, as well as works by more well-known New Zealand composers in our May concert. Our conductor was Anthony Ritchie.


For our May we did a “Last Night at the Proms” concert, with guest tenor Mat Wilson, and conductor Mark Anderson. Although this was one of our minor concerts, it was well attended.


In September we combined with the Mosgiel Brass to perform Tschaikowsky’s 1812 Overture in a concert of classical music, which received a standing ovation. Philip Craige conducted us and the audience was one of the largest we have had. Our last concert for 2015 was our Christmas concert on 29 November.

For 2016, we have booked in Mark Hodgkinson and Peter Adams as our major concert conductors, as well as Mark Anderson doing the minor ones.”


I know they are always looking for more enthusiastic players to join and contact details can be obtained through the Otago Symphonic Band Facebook Page, or by contacting NZCBA.


We wish them the very best for the future.