RAN Band Director's Message

Lieutenant Commander Steven Stanke
Lieutenant Commander Steven Stanke

The Royal Australian Navy Band is one of Australia’s most recognised and valued military bands and it is an honour to be recently appointed their 10th Director of Music. For over 100 years, musicians and leaders of the Royal Australian Navy Band have proudly taken the message and music of Australia to the world and represented the ideals of a creative nation, proud of their history and eagerly anticipating their future. Music is indeed the international language and the performances of the Royal Australian Navy Band are always met with enjoyment and appreciation.

Our own history has been closely examined in recent years. Rob Himbury’s excellent book The Evolution of the Royal Australian Navy Band is a comprehensive chronicle of the progress of the RAN Band over the last 100 years and is highly recommended reading for past members to ‘re-live their glory days’. It also puts the often strenuous daily routines and military requirements experienced by mid-century musicians and sailors in perspective for new members and is a sobering reminder of our predecessor’s efforts to create today’s standards and norms. To purchase this book, see the link on our website. Commander Phillip Anderson’s report on his cessation of duties as the RAN Band’s eighth Director of Music, A Musical Voyage, is also a comprehensive summary of the key events and policy decisions during his 10 year tenure, from 2003 to 2012. The three most visible and significant changes implemented by Commander Anderson were the establishments of the ‘one band’ policy, the Sea Deployment Group, and Benchmark Activities. All these feature highly in our thinking today and are a reflection of the desire of all members of the RAN Band to be autonomous, supportive and professional. A link to this document may be found on our website.

There have been many ‘significant moments’ in the history of the RAN Band: the sailing into Sydney Harbour onboard HMAS Australia in 1913 under the banner of the Royal Australian Navy for the first time, the approval by the Australian Naval Board in 1919 to include Advance Australia Fair in the band’s repertoire although not our national anthem until 1984, the opening of the RAN School of Music at Flinders Naval depot now HMAS Cerberus in 1951, the formation of a permanent band at HMAS Penguin in 1954, the change from Royal Marine uniforms to RAN uniforms after the confusion in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, the tour to Osaka, Japan for World Expo 70 in 1970, the combination of Penguin, Albatross and Cerberus bands for the opening ceremony of the Sydney Opera House in 1974, the first women to serve in the band ashore (1985) and at sea (1991), and, consequently, our first female band officer LEUT Michelle Rosenboom in 2001 and first female drum major Chief Petty Officer Camille Martin in 2010. These events were all considered impractical or impossible only a generation earlier and are an indication of how much an organisation can change and grow over time. The RAN Band is, of course, still evolving and I look forward to sharing stories and observations of band activities in the near future that, today, look impossible or impractical.

Lieutenant Commander Steven Stanke
Director of Music - Navy