Direct hit: Naden Band member pens new march

Naden Band composer and saxophonist Petty Officer Second Class Robyn Jutras (centre) is joined by fellow band members as she is presented an honorary membership in the Submariners Association of Canada (SAOC) by SAOC Canada West President, Lloyd Barnes (right) and past president Paul Hansen. The two former RCN submariners dropped by the band headquarters Nov. 21 to show their appreciation to PO2 Jutras for composing an official SAOC march entitled The Dolphin March. Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout Newspaper

Naden Band composer and saxophonist Petty Officer Second Class Robyn Jutras (centre) is joined by fellow band members as she is presented an honorary membership in the Submariners Association of Canada (SAOC) by SAOC Canada West President, Lloyd Barnes (right) and past president Paul Hansen. The two former RCN submariners dropped by the band headquarters Nov. 21 to show their appreciation to PO2 Jutras for composing an official SAOC march entitled The Dolphin March. Photo by Peter Mallett, Lookout Newspaper

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

Submariners old and young are going “Ahooga-Ahooga” for a new tune created in their honour by a Naden Band member.

The Dolphin March was composed by Petty Officer Second Class Robyn Jutras, the band’s bassoonist, for the Submariners Association of Canada. PO2 Jutras, 35, says her creation was written with the traditional modern military march in mind. It  employs an upbeat or rapid tempo meant to match those of military members marching in step.

“Ahooga is not only the sound the diving alarm (klaxon) that older submarines made but also an old submariners saying and the Association wanted that along with ‘Dive, Dive, Dive’ to be highly recognizable in the piece. So I decided to open with it in the first section,” says PO2 Jutras.

The march opens with two non-traditional, classic submarine sound effects at the beginning of the piece: a ‘ping, ping’ of a sonar before transitioning to two blasts of an old submarine’s klaxon, which sounds phonetically like “Ahooga, Ahooga.”

Paul Hansen, who spent nine years in the navy starting in the mid-1960s, including several years on both the HMCS Grilse and HMCS Rainbow, is past president of the Submariners Association of Canada West and the initiator of the project.  He worked closely with PO2 Jutras to explain what his group wanted for the piece when she began writing it back in July 2016.

The completed composition was introduced to Submariners Association of Canada members along with its composer during a June 2017 dinner held by the group celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the commissioning of the HMCS Onondaga.

“Both she and the march got a standing ovation from a crowd that included many old seamen like me who haven’t sailed in a submarine for nearly 50 years,” says Hansen. “And also the fairly recently retired, like Vice-Admiral (Retired) Bob Davidson, himself a former submarine Commanding Officer.”

Hansen says the march is meant to appeal to submariners “the world over.”

“It wasn’t the applause, but rather seeing how happy everyone was with the march,” says PO2 Jutras of the accolades. “It seemed to give them an added sense of pride about being a submariner, and I’m glad the music had done a good job in characterizing the spirit and musical meaning of the work they do and maybe a bit of their sense of humour.”

The Submariners Association of Canada liked the song so much they presented her with an honorary membership in all three regional branches.

Commander (Retired) Lloyd Barnes, SAOC Canada West President, was on hand at the Naden Band headquarters Nov. 21 to present PO2 Jutras with a commemorative plaque and give words of appreciation as her fellow band members looked on.

Barnes, who once commanded HMCS Rainbow, said he knew instantly after hearing the march that it fit the bill for his group.

“It was just the sound we were looking for, short, concise, and to the point,” he said. “It’s almost like the music helps the listener experience exactly the feeling of being in a sub with it’s up and down tempo, mimicking the feeling you get from diving and ascending in a submarine.”

The Naden Band’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant (Navy) Vincent Roy has been equally impressed with PO2 Jutras’s work.

“PO2 Jutras has shown great dedication to working on this project and has a great talent at writing music. A song like this not only helps celebrate the impressive legacy of submariners of the Royal Canadian Navy, but also has outreach power too, promoting our band, while engaging and interacting with past and present military members.”

It’s not the first time the Petty Officer has written a march for a military organization. In 2013 she was the winner of a national contest to write a Centennial march for Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, which was performed at the regiment’s centenary celebrations held in Ottawa in September of 2014.

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