Sumner Silver Band
Our Story

The Sumner Brass Band (now Sumner Silver Band) is believed to be one of the oldest bands in Canterbury having started in the 1880s.

Image of SSB in 1911

This is the earliest surviving image of the band. If you have any early images you would like to share with us, please contact us.

Image of SSB 1919 in a horse drawn cart

The band continued until the second world war. In February 1950 a public meeting was held where it was decided the district should again have a brass band of its own. Sumner Silver Band was formed under bandmaster G.F Sauer (the father of John Sauer who still plays cornet with the band to this day). By June 1951 a new set of instruments had been purchased and the band fitted with new uniforms.

Image of SSB marching practice 1951

Marching Practice in 1951

The band entered the contest field soon after.
Under conductors Louis Fox (a former New Zealand cornet champion), Dave Christensen (NZ champion of champions in 1953 and principal cornet for the National Band of NZ) and Noel Taylor the band thrived, reaching its peak in 1954 and again in 1959 when they won the national D grade championships.

Image of SSB winners national D Grade Championship 1959

Image of SSB marching in Lyttleton

Sadly, after these successes Noel Taylor left and the membership gradually dwindled until finally folding in the late 1960s. The trustees sold the band uniforms, music and most of the instruments. The rest being donated to the local museum.

However this was not the end of the band. In the mid-late 1990s the Sumner Foundation decided to promote a small group of brass musicians to teach local children. Instruments were gathered and Ken Smith (three times NZ national cornet champion) was hired to teach and conduct the group. Ken left to go to Australia and Robbie Fisher took over. Sumner Foundation bowed out and left Robbie to look after the group. Peter Croft (our current bass player) became involved and gathered up some more experienced players, some of whom had played with the band in the 50s, to sit in with the students. The band grew from there. The drums were reclaimed from the Sumner Museum and Geoff Butler, who had previously conducted New Brighton Silver Band, took the helm for a year. After the Police Band folded, Sumner inherited Ray Blampied who conducted the band for a further nine years. During Ray’s time, the band’s biggest success was winning 1st place in the provincial D Grade Championships in Timaru in 2011 for the test piece. This was to be Ray’s final conducting job with the band and a fitting end to his hard work and dedication.

Image of SSB 2011 RT Blambied conducting Timaru
Image of SSB 2011 Timaru championships
Moving on from 2011 and the Christchurch earthquakes, the band was lucky to retain most of its players, but sadly not its rehearsal space at Redcliffs School. We were accommodated at the Union Church on Augusta Street with the Sumner Bays Union Trust kindly paying our hall hire.
Image of SSB 2012 Scarborough Park

Steve Griffin from Canterbury Brass took the helm for a year, followed by Shane Foster who determinedly whipped the band into shape for its first foray for several years into “National Contest territory”.
The 30 odd members headed off to Invercargill in July 2014 to compete on stage against Roxburgh, New Brighton and Rangiora in the D grade. Peter McCallum also spent every Sunday morning for 8 weeks shouting at the band in the car park of the Canterbury Club in order to prepare us for the street march which the band had not done since the 1950s.

A great time was had by all and, even though we didn’t win, the band was in its best playing shape for many years.

Sumner Silver Band, Winners of the Canterbury Championships, D Grade 2013

Shane Foster departed after the national contest and the band, now rehearsing at the Redcliffs Bowling Club, have a new conductor Vickie Ward. The Band is currently in great form, with 30 members ranging in age from 10 to 80+ and continue to be busy playing contests, community events, church services and carols.

Thanks to Kate Sanders for creating this history