Participating Bands

2017 Big Bands

Symposium Big Band

Band leader: Gwyn Reynolds

All Girl Big Band

Band leader: Lana Law

In a largely male dominated musical genre, to see a full jazz big band on stage with a woman in each section is one thing. To find a full big band of women is stunning. Full sections of trombone, trumpet, sax and rhythm, played with class and style. Add two powerhouse vocalists and you’ll be blown away!

Ellesmere Big Band

Band leader: Matt Davis

The Ellesmere Big Band is a community band based in Leeston. It specialises in swing, pop and ballad music and features vocalists. It is one of the oldest bands in the area, originating as the Ellesmere Brass Band in 1902. Saxes and rhythm were added in 2004 and over the next few years the band developed into the, predominantly, ‘swing’ band of today.

Nelson Jazz Club Big Band


Band leader: Simon Williams

The Nelson Jazz Club Big Band – styled after the great bands of the Forties and Fifties is a traditional stage band that plays syncopated written arrangements with improvised interludes. Most people will be familiar with Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Count Basie and Duke Ellington, but Big Bands have been popular since the dawn of jazz and show no sign of losing their appeal with new arrangements of contemporary music appearing all the time. The Nelson Jazz Club Big Band has been in existence for more than twenty five years and has played at every Nelson Jazz Festival since its inception as well as playing regular gigs in the region. Simon Williams is the Musical Director of the Nelson Jazz Club Big Band, which includes some of the best jazz players and vocalists currently in Nelson. The combination of talent with many years of musical experience creates a great sound that brings the dance floor alive.

The Mainland Big Band

Band leader: Terry McGowan

The MAINLAND BIG BAND have been entertaining Christchurch and Canterbury audiences for over 50 years. Regularly playing at Christchurch venues this band appeals to everyone who appreciates a variety of music from all eras arranged in big band style with tempos suitable to most dancing styles.

Sideline Swing


Band leader: Butch Green

Garden City Big Band

Band leader: Lana Law

The Christchurch based Garden City Big Band have over 20 years experience providing musical entertainment both locally and further afield. A full 17-piece big band consisting of some of the best local musicians & vocalists in its line-up, the band performs a wide variety of music ranging from classic swing and dance music from the Big Band Era through to more contemporary big band sounds, Latin and and Rock ‘n Roll. Whether you like Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Harry Connick Jr or Michael Buble, the Garden City Big Band can put on a great show that is sure to get the crowd on its feet!

Christchurch Youth Jazz Orchestra

Band leader: Scott Taitoko and Gwyn Reynolds

The Christchurch Youth Jazz Orchestra (CYJO) is an auditioned Big Band up to age 20.

Papanui High School Jazz Band

Band leader: Georgina Rees-Stevenson

The PHS Jazz Band won Gold Awards at both ARA JazzQuest and Southern Jam in 2016. They love performing and several band members perform in other big bands, including the All Girl Big Band and CYJO. 2016 was the band’s first time participating in the Big Band Festival, and they can’t wait to do it again.

Christ’s College Big Band

Band leader: Claire Oliver


Burnside High School Big Band

Band leader: Chris Petch

In recent years the Burnside High School Big Band has enjoyed considerable success, winning the award for “Best Performance by a Jazz Band” on each of its five appearances at the NZSM Jazz Festival in Wellington plus seven consecutive Gold Awards and the title “Best Big Band” at the ARA “JazzQuest” competition. Several members of the band have also won individual excellence awards at both festivals. The band enjoys a busy concert calendar and performs annually at the Christchurch Big Band Festival. Last year saw the critically acclaimed “Big Band and Strings” project, including the release of a studio album by the same name. Many of the band’s members are enrolled in Burnside’s “Specialist Music Programme”, the only programme of its kind in New Zealand, providing a high level musical education for talented musicians. We are especially proud to recognise the achievements of two band members who have been selected for membership of the New Zealand National Youth Jazz Orchestra for 2017.

StAC Big Band

Band leader: Duncan Ferguson

The StAC Big Band has won Southern Jam Youth Jazz Festival seven times including this year. They perform a challenging mixture of old classics and modern jazz compositions.

StAC Jazz Orchestra

Band leader: Duncan Ferguson

The StAC Jazz Orchestra is a fun band full of young musicians keen to improvise and develop their understanding of the Jazz idiom.

Chisnallwood Intermediate School Jazz Band

Band leader: Judith Bell

The Chisnallwood Jazz Band is made up of 11-13 year olds all at Chisnallwood Intermediate School. Each year the band has quite a different make up as half the members head off to high school each year. They received a silver award at 2017 JazzQuest high schools competition. This year their repertoire includes an original composition by student Dylan Jonkers.


Band leader: Stephen Nichols

CSM combined outreach schools primary school jazz band

Friday Youth Band

Band leader: Maree Parr

Christchurch School of Music combined outreach primary schools band that plays a variety of music

Not-so-Big Bands

Hagley College Intermediate Jazz Band

Band leader: Nanako Sato

We are entering for Not-So-Big Band category, but we love playing the style of a Big Band. This group consists of Year 10 and 11 students from Hagley College. The band was formed last year and enjoy performing 1920’s Swing tunes to Latin numbers. We participated at Jazz Quest and Big Band Festival last year. We are pleased to be involved in the Big Band Festival again.

The Octet

Band leader: Mike Bickers

The Octet was formed in 2015 to play the sounds of the great 1950’s small groups. Music by Gerry Mulligan, Shorty Rogers, Miles Davis as well as small group arrangements of some of the great swing and bop numbers of the era as played by the Dave Pell Octet, Miles Davis Nonet, Gerry Mulligan Tentet and Shorty Rogers’ Jazz Giants. The Octet is also privileged to play a large number of Calder Prescott’s arrangements that Calder wrote especially for his own octet in Dunedin. The Octet utilises the instrumental talents of some of Christchurch’s best known jazz musicians. The line-up is Lana Law (baritone and alto sax), Jody Keehan (alto sax and vocals), Alan Hawes (tenor sax and clarinet), David Wallace (tenor and bass trombone), Mike Bickers (trumpet and flugelhorn), Katie Martin (piano and keyboards), Mike Kime (double bass) and Lou Moverly (drums). The sound is cool, swingin’ jazz.

If your band isn’t listed here yet, please ask you band director to jump onto the band registration page of this website!

2016 participating bands