Players to honour great musician

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Homage . . . Reading the handwritten score of Ken Smith's arrangement of Duka's Fanfare from the ballet La Peri in Dunedin on Monday in preparation for a CD recording to celebrate the late Dunedin musician are (from left) co-producer Errol Moore, co-musical director Ken Young, National Band of New Zealand principal cornet player John Lewis and co-musical director Peter Adams. PHOTOS: SHAWN MCAVINUE/GRAPHIC: MAT PATCHETT

More than 30 of New Zealand’s finest brass and percussion players are set to enter a recording studio to celebrate the work of late, great Dunedin musician Ken Smith.

Project co-producer Errol Moore, of Dunedin, said Smith, who died in 2018, aged 88, was New Zealand’s “foremost brass musician and leader to date”.

“He set a standard and a style in the mid-1980s for New Zealand players like me, that was very different inspirational.”

Smith was “a skilled and diverse musician, an international cornet and trumpet player; a stylish and sensitive arranger with deep instrumentation instincts”.

For the project, 33 of the most successful brass and percussion players were travelling from across New Zealand to voluntarily contribute their playing services for three days of recording from February 21.

The band would perform as the Ken Smith Players, at The New Zealand Army Band’s recording facilities at Burnham Military Camp.

The aim of the project was to celebrate “the life of a New Zealand brass legend”, his “significant contribution and success” as a musician, and to archive his music arrangements.

The recording would be the first time Smith’s arrangements would be available to listeners in a contemporary recorded form.

The project had a “strong” Dunedin connection, he said.

Project co-musical directors and professional conductors were University of Otago music lecturer Associate Prof Peter Adams and University of Otago Mozart Fellow Ken Young, both of Dunedin.

Prof Adams said Smith “broke a mould”.

Mr Young agreed.

“It was a mould that needed to be broken .. he developed a style of brass band playing which was then unknown in New Zealand.”

Dr Moore said National Band of New Zealand principal cornet John Lewis, of Dunedin, would lead the band and perform solos in the recording.

St Kilda Brass Band principal cornet Logan Ford was also among the ranks.

Dr Moore said the plan was to launch the recording at the 2020 National Brass Band Championships in Christchurch in July.