Naden Band introduces new Commanding Officer


(Left) Lieutenant (Navy) Catherine Norris, Captain (Navy) Blair Saltel and Lieutenant (Navy) Benjamin Van Slyke sign certificates during a Change of Command Ceremony for the Naden Band at the Wardroom on June 7. Photos: Peter Mallett, Lookout

Peter Mallett 
Staff Writer

The conductor’s baton of the Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) officially passed to a new Director of Music and Commanding Officer.

Lieutenant (Navy) Catherine Norris relinquished her position to Lt(N) Benjamin Van Slyke in a June 7 Change of Command Ceremony at Esquimalt’s Wardroom. Chief of Staff, Maritime Forces Pacific, Captain (Navy) Blair Saltel presided over the ceremony.

“The Naden Band is the first band I have commanded during my military career, so it will always be special to me,” says Lt(N) Norris. “It has been a great and challenging experience, from learning a new role to leading through a pandemic.”

The Naden Band was founded in 1940 and is one of six bands of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). Its 35 band members are regular force full-time professional musicians whose primary role is supporting naval operations, ceremonial events and public outreach initiatives.

Lt(N) Norris is the first female Commanding Officer of the Naden Band, and an extraordinary flute and piccolo player. She took the role in July 2018.

New Leader

Lt(N) Van Slyke says he connected to the Naden Band during his childhood in Vancouver.

“The Naden Band was the first Regular Force band I saw as a child, so it seems fitting I get to become its Director of Music,” he says. “Despite the changeover, I want the unit to continue building on its recent successes and find new ways to support the RCN and its operations musically.”

As the Band’s new Musical Director, the first piece Lt(N) Van Slyke chose to conduct during the ceremony was the Concert Band classic Psalm for Band by Vincent Persichetti.

The Change of Command ceremony was also the final performance for Chief Petty Officer Second Class Matt McCrady as the Naden Band’s Chief Petty Officer. He is moving to Ottawa to serve as the Senior Warrant Officer for the Central Band of the CAF.

Lieutenant (Navy) Catherine Norris

Lieutenant (Navy) Catherine Norris:

Lt(N) Norris joined the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in 1999. During her 23 years of service, she has been a member of multiple military bands across the CAF, including the Band of the Ceremonial Guard, Governor Gerneral’s Foot Guards Band, la Musique du 34e Groupe-brigade du Canada, Royal Canadian Artillery Band, the band of Royal Military College of Canada, and The Stadacona Band of the Royal Canadian Navy.

Lt(N) Norris met her husband Marc Shepard in 2005 while they were posted to Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Edmonton. They have a three-year-old daughter, Jovie. Now, they will move to Ottawa, where she will become the CO of the Central Band of the CAF.

Lieutenant (Navy) Benjamin Van Slyke

Lieutenant (Navy) Benjamin Van Slyke:

Lt(N) Van Slyke joined the CAF in 1995 as a reservist musician with the 15th Field Regiment of the Royal Canadian Regiment.

His military musician career as a trumpet player included performing with the RCN’s Stadacona Band in Halifax, La Musiques du Royal 22e Régiment at BFC Valcartier, brass and reed ensembles at CFB Borden, and Royal Canadian Artillery Band in Edmonton. He was posted as Music Officer to the Naden Band in July 2021.

Lt(N) Van Slyke met his wife Angela while working aboard a cruise ship in the Caribbean, where they married in 1999. They have two daughters, Abigail and Alena.

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