After four years at the helm of the Royal Australian Navy Band, Lieutenant Commander Steven Stanke has handed over the Director of Music - Navy baton to Lieutenant Commander Cassandra Mohapp, at Garden Island in Sydney.
Having also spent six years in the Royal Australian Air Force Band between 1982 and 1988, Lieutenant Commander Stanke has had amazing experiences serving as both a sailor and an officer in the Navy Band.
These have included opportunities to perform at the 1987 Royal Tournament in London, the 2011 and 2017 Nanchang International Tattoos in China, 2016 Anzac services in Gallipoli, 2018 Invictus Games ceremonies and 2019 Anzac services.
He also served as the Musical Director of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Australia in 2016.
“I had no idea of the breadth of opportunities available to me and the depth of passion and skills of my fellow musicians,” Lieutenant Commander Stanke said.
“I soon found out that I was working with some of the best musicians in the country in an organisation that valued traditions, promoted camaraderie and enjoyed shared experiences and responsibilities.
“There’s no other place in the world where I would have been able to have the experiences that are available to members of the ADF bands, and I will cherish these memories and people forever.
“I consider myself very lucky to have performed in so many places, for so many people, from a small audience in the Australian outback to a television audience of 200 million in China,” he said.
While his career with the Navy Band has been personally rewarding, Lieutenant Commander Stanke is also proud of what the Band has been able to give back to its members and audiences.
“We know that the power of music and music performance is essential to the creation and maintenance of a balanced and mature society, and it’s important that every voice in our organisation is heard to ensure that we are strong and diverse, representative of our people and our nation, and built on robust and sustainable foundations,” Lieutenant Commander Stanke said.
“Our performances are unique and our contribution to Australia’s musical heritage irreplaceable,” he added.
Lieutenant Commander Mohapp assumes the Director’s position - only the 11th person ever to do so in more than a century of Australian Navy history - following three years as First Lieutenant at HMAS Cerberus.
“The role of music in the Royal Australian Navy is a dynamic, complex and constantly evolving strategic asset of the Australian Defence Force, and one that I am proud to have represented of the past 22 years,” Lieutenant Commander Mohapp said.
“I am honoured to lead the band category in this significant time of development,” she said.
Its members carry out hundreds of performances each year and regularly deploy around the world on operations and exercises.