2006 Tours to Russia and Burundi


2006 was once again a busy year internationally for the Band as for the first time ever, the Band was invited to perform at the XI International Festival of Music, Saint Petersburg, thereby becoming the first military band of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to be invited to perform in Russia. Later in the year members from the Marimba Group would make their own history by being the first musical group from the SANDF to travel into Africa.

Participation at XI International Festival Of Music, Saint Petersburg - Russia

The band departed from Cape Town on Wednesday 24 May. Our first stopover en route to Saint Petersburg was a brief stay at Frankfurt International Airport. After an almost four-hour flight we finally arrived in Moscow, our final stopover before finally arriving in Saint Petersburg. After almost 35 hours of travelling we finally reached our hotel.

Commander Kenny Leibbrandt signing his autograph for appreciative Russian audiences

Our first engagement was the next day. After breakfast the Band departed for Saint Petersburg for an initial sightseeing excursion to one of the famous art galleries in the city. After an informative tour of the gallery, it was time to start setting up for our first concert which was to be held in the Michailovskii Garden in front of the Russian Museum.

The SA Navy Band playing in the Michaoilovskii Gardens in front of the Russian Museum

Although there were a few logistical challenges, our first concert on Russian soil was a fantastic success.

Chief Petty Officer Marcello Seveso posing with other international military musicians

Massed bands performing together at the end of the street march

The band marching along with 15 other bands along the Nevsky Prospect

On Saturday 27 May, a March Review through the Nevsky Prospect took place. All the participating bands (15 in total), in their contingents, were required to do a street march of approximately two kilometres. At short intervals the bands departed from the assembly point to commence the march. Along the route each band was then required to stop and do a short static routine before proceeding again. The end of the parade culminated in a massed band static performance of approximately 30 minutes.

Massed band rehearsals at the Ubileinii Sports Palace

Rehearsals at the Ubileinii Sports Palace

The band going through their paces at the Ubileinii Sports palace

On Sunday 28 May the massed bands congregated at the Sport palace, “Jubilejny”, for a one-off performance at the “Show of the Best Brass Bands of the world”. Each participating band was required to do a solo performance of between 12 and 14 minutes. The evening culminated in a massed band finale which concluded the show.

The band playing in front of the Cathedral at Peter and Paul's Fortress


Nevsky - Saint Petersburg

Palace Square - Saint Petersburg

Saint Petersburg - Russian church

Saint Petersburg canals

Our final performance before returning to South Africa was a concert on Monday 29 May in front of the Kazansky Cathedral which was in the Peter and Paul Fortress.

Marimba Group tour to Burundi

South Africa has been involved in peacekeeping operations since 1999. A decision was made that a music ensemble from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) should visit one of the countries that the SANDF were involved in.

Members of the Marimba Group with Commander Brian Stockton (from Navy HQ)

The Marimba Group from the South African Navy Band was the chosen group to travel Burundi on a twofold mission, namely:

  • to entertain the SANDF forces as well as the entire United Nations family in Burundi; and
  • to entertain locals in Burundi, thereby hopefully improving relations between the SANDF, the United Nations family and members of the local community.

The Marimba Group performing at an orphanage outside Bujumbura

Children at the orphanage joining in

Leading Seaman Baloyi interacting with the children

Petty Officer Twala entertaining the crowds

On Wednesday 11 October, 14 members of the Marimba group departed from Pretoria on their way to Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi. The pinnacle of the South African Navy Band’s visit was a public concert on the shores of Lake Tanganyika as part of the “Stand Up” ceremony to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty which was observed in Burundi on 15 October. During the concert, a message on this theme was read to the audience.

The Marimba Group entertaining some of the locals

Entertaining our forces

South African Navy sign post

The rest of the programme included:

  • Performances at Bujumbura’s orphanage;
  • a Happy Hour for the staff of the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB);
  • a musical evening at the base of South Africa’s contingent; and
  • a medal parade.

After a week of entertaining and “bridge-building”, the Marimba Group finally returned to Cape Town on Saturday 21 October.

Teaching the Burundi soldiers to play the marimbas

With the Burundi soldiers