Ken Smith was a virtuoso cornet player, from New Zealand. Son of conductor K.G.L. Smith, he was born in Westport, New Zealand. He was a youthful prodigy and became a virtuoso cornet player, winning the New Zealand cornet championship 3 years in succession in 1948-49-50.
He left New Zealand for the UK, to play with the Fairey Aviation Works Band in 1950. Arriving in post war Britain he, discovered a country that was so dour that, despite being quite a serious man, he felt committed to brightening up the place. He came from a family with banding in its veins and was Principal Cornet of the National Band of New Zealand that won the 1953 British Open. His return to Fairey’s Band in 1954 was nothing short of sensational, with his style, tone and amazing technique literally placing him years ahead of any of his contemporaries.
Ken conducted St Kilda Brass for a period and later moved to Australia and a senior post at the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music. He toured New Zealand, the USA and Canada as a trumpet soloist throughout the 1970s working with leading symphony orchestras . He was appointed MD of the 1985 National Band that toured the U.K. and Europe. He has served as an adjudicator in both New Zealand and Australia.
As a conductor and administrator in New Zealand saw him being honoured by the Queen for his achievements. He retired and returned to Australia in 1996 and later appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to brass bands.