The Royal Marines’ Association Concert Band were rightly proud to be invited to join the MGC Choir in marking a true moment in history at their Spirit of Christmas Concert on Sunday 10th December 2017. Conducting his last concert with this choir which celebrates its 70 th Anniversary later this year, Brian North has been at its helm for the last 31 years. In nurturing and developing the choir, Brian has supported and encouraged a blossoming relationship with the Royal Marines’ Band Service.
This liaison incidentally first came about through a concert with the Milton Glee Club choir and orchestra of HM Royal Marines under the
direction of Captain K.A. McLean at the Guildhall in Portsmouth on 12 th December 1959.
And though Brian, by request had asked to be spared presentations and announcements, the band and choir seemed to combine this time with renewed vigour and enthusiasm from the opening festive number Child in Heaven, composed by Brian himself, to the very fitting Auld Lang Syne finale piece. For those who missed this momentous occasion the remainder of the concert can only be described as a true musical variety show.
Arrangements from stage and screen such as Beauty and the Beast, Polar Express and Frozen contrasted with many seasonal favourites. Under the direction of Lt. Col Chris Davis (OBE) the band’s own contributions included a rich selection of musical styles and textures such as the finale from the Overture William Tell to the Marvin Hamlisch Showcase selection and music from Brassed Off with soloist Jon Yates (BEM) and Bacharach’s A House is not a Home for alto sax, played by David Cole.
And though Brian’s wishes were, of course, granted the standing ovation by all spoke volumes for all he has achieved. We thank
you Brian and wish you much happiness in your retirement.
A regular and popular concert venue for the Royal Marines’ Association Concert Band is, without a doubt, The Alexandra Theatre in Bognor Regis and, not least, because the audience turns out in full support for this prolific band.
The band’s new Director of Music, Lt. Col. Chris Davis clearly likes to make an assured entrance with the Fanfare to the First Sea Lord preceding a selection of marches followed by the Rossini Overture, Italian Girl in Algiers. Here the dexterous finger work of individual players and in ensemble shone through before the apt programming of some popular solo features. Through the Eyes of Love was stylishly performed on trumpet by the band’s very own Jon Yates (BEM) followed by the beautifully lyrical flute solo, Home Away from Home, played by Lisa Lyster.
Later, in the second half of the programme, the versatility of the director of music saw Chris himself performing the haunting yet hopeful Ashokan Farewell on violin to the delicacy of accompaniment that this flexible band of musicians can achieve so well.
Before the audience were able to indulge in the familiar patriotic-style finale, a further surprise item; the theme from Lawrence of Arabia with a relative new-comer to the band; Connor Lyster, son of Lisa, opening with a powerful timpani solo.
Clearly Chris has further surprises to reveal on his journey with this band and there is much for future audiences to look forward to.
Making his debut since being appointed the new Director of Music of the Royal Marines Association Concert Band, Lt. Col. Chris Davis opened this joint concert with the Portsmouth Grammar School Senior Brass Band at Portsmouth Cathedral on Wednesday 12th July 2017.
A tight and assured opening of three contrasting marches; Hall’s New Colonial, Tchaikovsky’s resplendent Marche Militaire and Goff Richards’ Marchamba established the precision and accuracy which clearly embodies Chris’ style of leadership. Further highlights in the band’s programme included the famous Khatchaturian Masquerade Waltz and then later a personal favourite of the Director of Music an arrangement of Vaughan Williams Prelude to the film 49th Parallel.
As well as presenting a range of impressive and entertaining feature pieces themselves including a Wild West! Selection, the Strauss Zarathustra Fanfare and a brass arrangement of the William Tell Overture, the bands also collaborated in a powerful tour-de-force style finale; Barraclough’s contest march Simoraine conducted by PGS Brass Band director, Graham Brown followed by the mighty and regal Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral from Wagner’s opera, Lohengrin.
Yet this summary would not be complete without mention of a further fundamental aim fulfilled for the Royal Marines’ Association Concert Band. Before the finale, a cheque for £10.000 was presented to the corps charity marking the band’s commitment to the well-being and recuperation of injured members of the armed forces and their families.
Book the Royal Marines Association Dance Band and you get a night of pure, nonstop entertainment! And this is exactly what the Fleet Air Arm Buccaneer Association experienced on Saturday 3rd June.
Pop classics from the 70s, 80s and 90s and right up to the present day resonated throughout the hotel with Verity Bowley and Ricky James on vocals. The other seven players of this nine piece band clearly revelled in the party atmosphere; playing with real energy and enthusiasm and flexibly adapting from ballad to soul, rock and swing.
As the night drew to a close... so many thanks offered to the team who really “got the party started” and saw almost all guests “dancing the night away!”
Returning to Portsmouth Guildhall in concert with the Milton Glee Club (MGC) Choir, the band had opportunity to accompany a wide range of pop, stage and screen hits such as several Gary Barlow numbers and selections from Sister Act and Flash Dance. Further highlights also included the varied selection of violin pieces by internationally renowned soloist Lizz Lipscombe and, of course, several feature band pieces.
The fast-paced opening of Alfred Reed’s A Festive Overture contrasted with the beautiful lyrical middle section of this piece. In more traditional style, however, the band also performed Gordon Langford’s classic Fantasy on British Sea Songs and later the ever-popular Beatles – Echoes of an Era selection.
This time featuring several numbers by a small Dixie Band which included Major Jason Burcham on keys, the versatility offered by the Royal Marines Association Concert Band throughout is clearly one of the principal reasons why they ever-continue to be a firm favourite with this long-standing choir.
MGC Choir and RMA Concert Band return again to Portsmouth Guildhall together on Sunday 8th October and Sunday 10th December.
The most recent concert at the Berry Theatre, Hedge End by the Royal Marines Association Concert Band showed the poise and control of this very fine group of musicians. In his debut concert with the band, Major Jason Burcham (RM), who is currently interim Director of Music pending a new appointment, selected Lux Aurumque by Whitacre. This transcription for band of the choral masterpiece, Light and Gold based upon a poem by Edward Esch showcases tight harmonies which almost literally “shimmer and glow”. Later too the band maintained similar composure in the beautiful evening hymn, Canterbury Chorale.
There was also plentiful opportunity to present some new feature pieces. These included the famous Delibes Flower Duet, this time played delicately on two clarinets by Dave Bromley and Linda Tellick, and a Vivaldi Double Trumpet Concerto performed by Jon Yates and Tim Mulkern. The latter captured well the spirit and dynamic contrast so reminiscent of baroque music.
Yet for the audience-goer who would name a “good march” among their concert favourites this too was on offer throughout. Starting with the concert march Leviathan by Gordon Langford as well as several tributes to the wrens, The W.R.N.S. march by Jonathan Yates himself and Women of the Waves by Mac McDermott there were plentiful opportunities to tap your foot or clap along.
Though surprisingly not quite a sell-out audience on this occasion, this was a concert that many will have been disappointed to miss!
The Mountbatten Festival of Music (M.F.M) 2017 is being held this weekend at the Royal Albert Hall, this annual event holds significant interest for the Royal Marines Association Concert Band’s musicians, as many of our band members performed at the M.F.M in previous years, whilst serving in the Royal Marines Band Service.
If you have never been to a M.F.M performance you don’t know what you are missing! It is always a spectacular evening of fantastic music and entertainment. This is how the Royal Marines Band Facebook Page (The Bands of HM Royal Marines (Official)) describes the festival:
“The Mountbatten Festival of Music returns, featuring the Massed Bands of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines performing over three nights at the Royal Albert Hall. These concerts display the outstanding versatility of some of the world’s finest military musicians and are given the “West End” treatment with spectacular lighting effects. The Festival sees the Royal Marines showcase their incredible musicianship and pageantry and features a wide range of musical styles, including music from the big screen and superb solo items, as well as the traditional marches and overtures that have proved such a hit with audiences over the years. “
The festival began on the 6th February 1973 when the bands of the Royal Marines School of Music, Naval Home Command, HMS Ganges, and Commander-in-Chief were massed for a performance for the benefit of the Royal Academy of Music’s 150th Anniversary Appeal. This has been the highlight of the Royal Marines Band Service calendar ever since. This year, the Duke of Edinburgh will be attending as Captain General of the Royal Marines.
2017 marks the first time the event will be streamed live around the world courtesy of Facebook Live. If you haven’t managed to secure a ticket, we can thoroughly recommend watching the spectacle from the comfort of your own living room! Simply go to the Royal Marines Band’s Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/rmbandservice/ at 7.25 pm on Saturday 25th and watch the live stream. Those amongst you who are Twitter savvy, can see regular news, interviews and updates by following the hashtag #MFMlive
The festival supports The Royal Marines Charity and you can help raise much needed funds by texting BAND17 £5 to 70070 (UK only) or by donating online via theroyalmarinescharity.org.uk/donate
A number of Royal Marines Association Concert Band musicians and our Director of Music Major (Retd) Anthony Smallwood RM will be attending, and will no doubt enjoy a wonderful evening of music, happy in the knowledge that they can sit back and enjoy the occasion rather than taking part!
A programme offering a varied mix of popular favourites from the classical world as well as stage and screen were contrasted with some delicate interludes. Among these, Major (Retd) Tony
Smallwood programmed Philip Sparke’s Entr’acte fromTheatre Music performed by the whole band and the choir also sung with sensitivity in You’ve Got a Friend and the Dylan classic , Make You Feel My Love with soloist Deborah Ashwell.
For those with a particular affection for audience participation, however, there were also typically plentiful opportunities. Beginning with the choir’s Tipperary Medley, the band soon followed with the traditional Hornpipe, encouraging the audience to keep an ever accelerating beat for the band’s brave soloist, Rodney Preston (violin).
Following Prelude and Sunset, the popular finale included flag and programme waving opportunities in Britannic Salute, bringing both audience and band to their feet. Thank you, Yeovil; as ever, it was a pleasure.
Concerts at the Assembly Hall in Worthing by the Royal Marines Association Concert Band are most definitely mutually appreciated by band and audience and the latest concert on Sunday 26th February did none other than reinforce this.
Opening with an arrangement of the rousing soundtrack from the film Jursassic Park, the band was clearly out to impress and did so in many ways. The classic overture Orpheus in the Underworld, displayed almost frenetic playing at times, contrasted with beautifully controlled bridge passages and cadenzas by solo players within the band.
Elsewhere in the programme the clarinet section were in sparkling form in Clarinet Candy and all members of the band were kept on their toes as they were quite literally brought to their feet by section and then altogether in the age-old classic, Hootenanny.
Combined with the style and musicality of the Military Wives Choir under the direction of their MD Andrew Cleary, this concert most definitely provided a truly enriching programme of entertainment for a Sunday afternoon. And what’s more, the returning audiences in Worthing are a true testimony of this!
By popular demand the Royal Marines’ Association Concert Band were invited back as guests of Southampton Choral Society for the band’s final concert of the year on Saturday 17th December; this year with guest Director of Music, LT Col Chris Davis OBE RM (rtd.) A fully festive theme dominated throughout with both choir and band presenting separately and together many well-known Christmas Carols and other seasonal favourites.
Notable features included Adams’ Cantique de Noel: O Holy Night; a delicate and sensitive band accompaniment especially effective in supporting the choir’s soloist, Ros Mitzen. Later one of the band’s most prolific soloists, Jonathan Yates, performed a beautiful rendition of Mary’s Boy Child.
In contrast both choir and band also offered various light-hearted numbers. The band joined the audience with impressive enthusiasm when invited to support vocals in Twelve Days of Christmas. Furthermore, who could imagine a Christmas concert without the percussive fun of Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride and a toe-tapping, jazzed-up arrangement of Jingle Bells to finish!