RAN Band Sydney

 
RAN Band Sydney at Band Call at St Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney.
RAN Band Sydney at Band Call at St Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney.

Royal Australian Navy Band Sydney, administered by HMAS Kuttabul, consists of approximately 50 full-time members under the musical direction of Lieutenant Brian O’Kane, and is complemented by a number of Naval Reserve Musicians as required.

The RAN Band Sydney plays a vital and high tempo role in providing regular ceremonial support not only to the major Royal Australian Navy Fleet Base East, but also key New South Wales naval establishments including HMAS Watson, Penguin, Albatross and the Royal Australian Naval College, HMAS Creswell. Ceremonial support is most often provided as a full 35 piece military marching band and can additionally take the form of bugle calls, vocal support for National Anthems, drum corps, fanfare teams and collaboration with the RAN Indigenous Performance Group - Bungaree.

Ceremonial support is not limited to within the state. Members periodically strengthen Reserve Bands and travel to locations including Adelaide, Hobart, Perth, Cairns and Darwin in support of major fleet events.

RAN Band Sydney also presents a Wind Band, allowing the band to showcase traditional and contemporary repertoire at concerts around New South Wales and the country. Extending the Band’s musical reach are the accomplished Big Band and Jazz Ensembles, brass and wind chamber ensembles (in multiple combinations), and the high energy Cover Band.

RAN Band Sydney actively supports the Royal Australian Navy at sea and on the international stage. Members of the Band continue to deploy in HMA Ships supporting operations and deployments including Northern Trident, Indo-Pacific Endeavour and RIMPAC. Overseas deployments have seen members travel to the Middle East as part of Operations OKRA, HIGHROAD and ACCORDION. Other international representation includes travel to Turkey (Gallipoli), Timor Leste, the Solomon Islands and more as well as high profile representation at the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Scotland, and Australia, and other military tattoos in Brunei, the United Arab Emirates, China and Hong Kong.

RAN Band Sydney maintains a close relationship with the New South Wales community, and in addition to its ceremonial commitments, performs a variety of public events throughout Sydney and New South Wales. This includes, but is certainly not limited to, school concerts and workshops, community music festivals, local commemorative services, veteran, RSL and charity events and large sporting events.

To keep up to date with RAN Band Sydney, like and follow the RAN Band Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RoyalAustralianNavyBand.

 
Band Officer in Charge, RAN Band Sydney, Lieutenant Brian O'Kane.
Band Officer in Charge, RAN Band Sydney, Lieutenant Brian O'Kane.

Band Officer in Charge, Lieutenant Brian O’Kane, RAN

LRSM (Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music)

Lieutenant Brian O’Kane began his military music career as a clarinettist in Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Band Service, UK. After 17 years in the Royal Marines, he discharged a Colour Sergeant Bandmaster, having served in a number of Senior Non-Commissioned Officer roles including Volunteer Band Instructor.

In 2003, Brian migrated with his family from the UK to Australia and joined the Royal Australian Navy Band as a Petty Officer Musician.

Brian initially posted to the RAN Band Sydney, during which time he led musicians at sea in HMAS Tobruk, on a deployment to South East Asia. In July 2007, he was promoted to Chief Petty Officer and stayed in Sydney, undertaking the role of Bandmaster. The same year, he deployed with the band to the Middle Eastern Area of Operations as part of Operation ANODE.

Brian obtained a commission to Band Officer in 2009 and the following year he posted to the Defence Force School of Music, Melbourne to undertake the eighteen month Band Officer Course (BOC). On completion of the course in 2011, Brian posted back to RAN Band Sydney as the Lieutenant Divisional Officer. During this time he deployed to Afghanistan on two separate occasions. In 2013, a posting to the Directorate of Music - Navy saw him take on the role of Assistant Director of Music - Navy.

In 2016 Brian posted back to the Defence Force School of Music, this time as the Senior Instructor, managing the Band Officer Course. In 2017 he posted back to the RAN Band Sydney, this time as the Officer in Charge and Musical Director. He remains the Band Officer in Charge of RAN Band Sydney to this day, a role which he has a particular passion for.

 

RAN Band Sydney Ensembles

For correct acknowledgement of RAN Band ensembles and naming conventions, please refer to the RAN Band Acknowledgement Guidelines.
To obtain official imagery and/or graphics of any of our ensembles, please contact navyband.pr@defence.gov.au.

Wind Band

The RAN Band Sydney Wind Band is one of the premier ensembles of the unit, based out of HMAS Kuttabul, NSW. The Band performs regularly for audiences at a variety of venues throughout Sydney, NSW, and up and down the east coast, under the direction of Lieutenant Brian O’Kane, RAN. The ensemble is suited to larger venues such as concert halls and theatres and features some of the finest musicians in the Australian Defence Force.

This ensemble showcases both traditional and contemporary wind band repertoire from a range of genres, including marches, traditional military band pieces, orchestral arrangements and contemporary works. Concerts often feature premiere performances of new compositions and arrangements by the RAN Band’s own composers and arrangers. The ensemble also features songs from musicals and popular tunes featuring its own vocalists, to supplement the traditional instrumental format.

The Wind Band performs concerts at venues around Sydney and its greater region at venues such as St Andrew’s Cathedral in Sydney, The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre in Penrith, Newcastle Conservatorium and the ‘Sutherland Entertainment Centre’ in Sutherland, south of the city. These performances are for the general public and attract a regular and diverse audience. Concerts often feature premiere performances of new compositions and arrangements by the RAN Band’s own musicians, programmed in conjunction with significant works for wind and military band by acclaimed Australian and international composers.

Throughout its history the ensemble has performed for thousands of audiences within Australia and around the world. Today, the Wind Band continues to uphold Navy’s proud traditions and provide support to the Royal Australian Navy.

Big Band

The RAN Band Sydney Big Band features some of Navy’s top jazz musicians and performs Big Band music at events across NSW and Australia. Performances vary from small community performances, balls and corporate events, to major festivals, national, and charity events. Appearances in recent times include Thredbo, Manly, Darling Harbour, Merimbula, and Wangaratta Jazz Festivals as well as ‘Jazz in the Vines’ in the Hunter Valley.

The Band continues to work in association with many acclaimed artists including James Morrison, Don Burrows, Guy Sebastian and Katie Noonan.

The Big Band’s repertoire is extensive, with styles ranging from the traditional swing era to contemporary big band compositions. A major focus is placed on featuring contemporary Australian compositions and arrangements, particularly those of our own musicians.

Two exciting albums have been produced under the name of Admiral’s Own - ‘Compositions’ and ‘Straight Ahead’. These albums feature members of both RAN Band Sydney and Melbourne Big Bands. ‘Compositions’ showcases the talent of the jazz composers of the band and ‘Straight Ahead’ features our musicians highly developed arranging skills. The CD’s title ‘Straight Ahead’, a title made famous by the legendary Count Basie Big Band, shows respect to the greats of the genre and presents traditional jazz standards in a new, fresh way.

Both albums are available for direct download, free of charge from our website:
www.navy.gov.au/about/organisation/navy-band.

CDs can be requested (also free of charge) by emailing navy.band@defence.gov.au

Jazz Ensemble

The RAN Band Sydney Jazz Ensemble is a versatile and sought-after group, showcasing some of Navy’s most skilled jazz musicians. These players have extensive and colourful backgrounds in jazz performance, as well as considerable international experience. The Jazz Ensemble core instrumentation comprises drums, bass, piano, trumpet and saxophone, although a vocalist may be added, and even a third horn player (trumpet, trombone or saxophone) where required.

The group performs and provides atmosphere at a wide variety of ADF and public events, including dinners, balls and official functions, as well as corporate and charity events, conventions, community events and festivals. The group can be seen regularly playing on decorated ships flight decks, ostentatious ballrooms, and has even provided support to Royal visits at venues such as Government House.

The Jazz Group is highly versatile in its utilisation, from soft background music, to upbeat, lively dancing swing. Few other groups can match the malleability that the Jazz Ensemble provides. The ensemble performs a wide variety of jazz styles, including Gershwin and Cole Porter style standards from the 30s and 40s, bebop era standards, hard bop style from the late 50s, as well as numerous Latin and Afro Cuban style tunes, straight funk from the 70s, 80s and beyond. Add in a vocalist and the ensemble can play everything from Nancy Wilson and Ella Fitzgerald, to Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and Bruno Mars.

Cover Band

The Cover Band, known as Sea State Seven, is a heavily requested popular music ensemble, specialising in high energy performances of current Top 40s rock and pop music, and classic hits of the last five decades.

The ensemble is regularly tasked with performing at high-profile public events, including national and internationally televised events, and has been called upon to support some of Australia’s leading artists, including Birds of Tokyo, Colin Hay (Men at Work), Dave Faulkner (Hoodoo Gurus), and Lucy Durack.

The core ensemble comprises vocals, drums, electric guitar, bass guitar, and keyboard, and features Navy musicians with years of corporate performance experience. This allows the ensemble to remain flexible to the needs of the event/performance, while delivering a truly professional product.

The Band can often be seen proudly supporting charities on behalf of the RAN, and, in 2019 the ensemble assisted in raising over $1.6 million dollars for various charities in Sydney.

Additionally, the ensemble is often involved in community-outreach programs ranging from school visits to Indigenous support programs.

Brass Quintet

The RAN Band Sydney Brass Quintet is a vibrant addition to the band’s repertoire of chamber ensembles, and incorporates some of the Navy’s finest classical players. Typically, the ensemble comprises two trumpets, french horn, trombone, and tuba, however the ensemble is flexible in its ability to operate as a quintet or quartet while maintaining the highest levels of musicianship and performance.

The quintet has a particular edge due to the brass timbre and sound projection, making it an ideal selection for outdoor performances where a full military band is not required.

The Brass Quintet plays at many different events, ranging from ADF ceremonies, memorials and social events, to public performances, charity and corporate events, as well as State and Federal functions. The quintet routinely supports HMA Ships and establishments in Sydney and across the state, and has performed all over the globe from embassies in Washington DC to Royal events across Australia and the Pacific.

In addition to musical support, the ensemble is also a sonorous and engaging addition to a variety of concerts and feature performances. Repertoire can be selected from a wide variety of music, according to the needs of the event, including classical music from many eras, hymns, songs and anthems, as well as contemporary and jazz or even pop arrangements.

Woodwind Quintet

The RAN Band Sydney Woodwind Quintet is an acclaimed chamber ensemble known for its high level of professionalism and exceptional musicality. The quintet incorporates some of Navy’s finest classical musicians and is a versatile asset to RAN Band Sydney, providing a strong musical force with limited numbers.

The ensemble comprises flute, clarinet, oboe, French horn and bassoon. Each of these instruments brings a unique timbre to the mix; the reedy sounds of the bassoon and oboe, mellow clarinet, warm French horn and brilliant flute. Although all very different, these instruments work together to create one of the most acoustically complementary combinations classical music has to offer.

The quintet regularly performs in HMA Ships, at naval establishments, and at many public venues across NSW. These performances includes dinners, receptions, official functions, church services, cocktail parties, and any number of other events for which background music is required.

The Woodwind Quintet is also an exciting addition to a variety of concerts and feature performances. Repertoire includes a wide range of pieces, from music inspired by Baroque legends such as Handel and Bach, brilliant classical compositions by Danzi and Cambini, to a mixture of romantic and modern music including many works from prominent Australian composers.

Woodwind Trio

The RAN Band Sydney Woodwind Trio is a highly capable chamber ensemble incorporating some of the Navy’s finest classical musicians. The ensemble extends the RAN Band Sydney chamber capability through its size and repertoire and its members pride themselves on a high level of professionalism and musicianship.

The ensemble comprises flute, clarinet and bassoon. Occasionally the members that comprise the group change but the heart and drive of the ensemble to remain a tight, passionate musical force never waivers.

The trio’s main tasking involves providing music for official ADF, State and Federal functions, however the ensemble has performed all over the globe from embassies in Washington DC to Royal events across Australia and the Pacific.

The Woodwind Trio performs a wide range of styles from arrangements of Baroque sonatas, Classical and Romantic trios through to contemporary music and arrangements from Australian and international composers, as well as new arrangements from members of the ensemble itself.

RAN Band Sydney marches on the flight deck of HMAS Canberra (III) during Fleet Divisions at Garden Island, Sydney, in December 2017.
RAN Band Sydney marches on the flight deck of HMAS Canberra (III) during Fleet Divisions at Garden Island, Sydney, in December 2017.