New dawn service trumpeter

Dr Gen Numaguchi, of Queenstown, will be the official trumpeter for Anzac Day services in the...
Dr Gen Numaguchi, of Queenstown, will be the official trumpeter for Anzac Day services in the Wakatipu next week. PHOTO: TRACEY ROXBURGH
The Last Post will take on special meaning for a Queenstown trumpeter this year.

Dr Gen Numaguchi has been tasked with playing the haunting piece at this year's Anzac Day dawn service in Queenstown and during the official wreath-laying at the Arrowtown Cenotaph later in the day.

It will be the first time Dr Numaguchi has taken on the official duties, following the sudden death of fellow trumpeter and friend Martin Wightman last August.

Dr Numaguchi, who has been playing the trumpet since he was 10 years old, was asked to perform the Last Post at his friend's funeral in September.

That day he got some experience trying to play the instrument in freezing conditions, which may well come in handy next week, he said.

``It's hard to play when it's cold.

``At his funeral, ironically, it was almost sleeting - it was cold and rainy and I had a hard time playing then.''

The registered psychologist, born in New York, spent the first 10 years of his life in Tokyo, before his family moved back to New York.

Dr Numaguchi said his mother was a pianist but ``she couldn't teach me'' so he took piano lessons for five years but ``lost interest''.

By age 10 he wanted to learn the French horn but there were none available at his music school.

``They gave me a trumpet for the `time being'. Forty years later ...''

He played in orchestras, brass and jazz bands while growing up in New York, as well as joining reggae and rock bands.

After attending university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania he completed his doctorate in Utah, where he played regular gigs with a guitar player in a restaurant for 10 years.

He and his wife, Annabelle, moved to Queenstown in 2010 and the following year he and Mr Wightman were two of the founding members of the Queenstown Jazz Orchestra.

Dr Numaguchi still plays other gigs around Queenstown, including his regular Friday performances at Sundeck and Attiqa, where he and saxophonist Mark Stillwell alternate venues each week and accompany DJs.

``Almost two years ago I started playing at Sundeck. Stefano [De Santis, the manager] wanted an instrument with a DJ.

``I said `that's kind of weird ... let's give it a try'.

``It's really fun.''

Dr Numaguchi said Anzac Day would have special significance for him this year. It would be his first as a New Zealand citizen and it was also the birthday of his late father-in-law, who died five months ago.

Queenstown's dawn service will begin at 6.45am at the Memorial Gates. At 9.30am the official parade will leave the gates for Queenstown Memorial Centre and service. Arrowtown's service begins at 10.30am at the Athenaeum Hall before a parade to the cenotaph for the laying of wreaths.

tracey.roxburgh@odt.co.nz

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