The history of band rotundas takes centre stage today as an exhibition telling the story of rotundas in big towns and small opens at the National Library’s Turnbull Gallery. Co-curators Samantha Owens, Victory University Associate Professor of Musicology, and Alexander Turnbull Library Music Curator Dr Michael Brown discuss why the ornamental rotunda is such an important part of our national identity.
"Band rotundas are an attractive feature of cities and towns across New Zealand.
Popular enthusiasm for brass band music led to over 100 rotundas being built from the 1890s to the 1930s – Wellington alone had nine.
Much admired as civic ‘ornaments’, these elegant structures sheltered musicians while they performed for the public, projecting their music out across parks and botanic gardens, beaches and city streets. They’ve often been used for other purposes, too, including municipal receptions, speeches and protest events.
As many rotundas have been have lost over the years, now is a good time to renew our appreciation of these delightful fixtures."