NOOSA – In 1996, the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary Band was in the middle of its golden age.
It was a splendid band, frequently invited to at festivals in Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.
But its performance at that year’s Adelaide International Tattoo has been described as sensational in every respect: playing, marching, dress, discipline - and the dancers of the Raun Raun Theatre.
Its performance repertoire included the songs Rocking in Paradise and King of the Road but it was the march, Papua Niugini (Wan Kantri), with which it entered the stadium that immediately captured the emotions of the audience that day and of all who have seen it since.
In the beautiful Aravali Hills of Haryana, two hours from the Indian capital New Delhi, set in a splendid garden landscape, is the Pathways School at Gurgaon.
The school’s director of music since 2014 has been Keith Terrett, now 65, a former Superintendent in the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary.
The London-born Terrett spent five years as director of music and chief instructor of the 150-strong RPNGC band.
And it was in that role in 1996, that occurred the highlight of Terrett’s career in music when his band march on to the oval at the Adelaide International Tattoo in South Australia, where the accompanying video was filmed.
Terrett is a composer, conductor, arranger, music educator, trumpeter, cornettist, flugelhornist and, as these skills connote, a multi-instrumentalist.
He began his career as a music recruit in the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars at 18, where in addition to specialising in cornet and trumpet, he undertook a thorough education in music: teaching, orchestration, conducting, management and much else.
By 1985, when he left the band for four years further study at the Royal Military College of Music, he led the cornet section of the band and performed solo on the piccolo trumpet, cornet, flugelhorn, trumpet and posthorn.
At the college he also performed and managed a band of 40 young musicians.
He was aged 34 when he left the military after 16 years to begin a career as a musical director – first in the West Indies, then Kuwait, Norway, back in the UK, Malaysia and India.
Inserted in that journey between 1993 and 1999 was a year lecturing at the University of PNG and then five years, from 1994 to 1999, which he says were “the best days of my life with the one and only RPNGC Band, always in my heart.”
Watching the video and listening to that band play demonstrates just how talented was the then Superintendent Terrett.
It was such a great shame that amongst much that has been lost in Papua New Guinea over the years is its once great military band.