The Royal Marines Association Concert Band could not have been made more welcome than when they travelled across to the Isle of Wight for a spectacular and memorable concert at Shanklin Theatre in aid of Diabetes Research on Sunday 6th December.
Joined by the Corps of Drums from the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Collingwood and sharing the stage with two local choirs; NHS Nightingales and Medina Community Choir, there was much variety and contrast for the warm and expectant audience to marvel at and savour.
From the slick and sparkling opening of Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride and a march sequence which commenced with the ever popular Cavalry of the Steppes and led into an impressive feature by the Corps of Drums, the programme did none other than build towards a spectacular finale in each half.
Further highly notable features included the contrasting beauty of the solo for trumpet Panis Angelicus played by Jonathan Yates, BEM and a festive trio of trombones with soloists Ian Kingshott, Stephen Close and David Tremaine in a clever arrangement of Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.
And yet further treats were to come. It became prominently clear that the band director’s musical passion and skill extends throughout his family network. We and the audience were delighted to see Major (Retd) Tony Smallwood joined on stage not only by his highly talented wife Rachael who added to the impressively powerful and bell-like sounds of the band’s French horn section but also by the gifted director of the choirs, Hannah Brear; sister to Rachael and a much acclaimed professional vocal soloist. She provided pure clarity in her solo with massed band and choirs in O Holy Night.
With plentiful opportunities for audience participation and further spectaculars from what are swiftly becoming specialities of the band; Capt David Cole’s arrangements of Riverdance, and now a band favourite, the James Bond selection, the concert could only end in one way… with all who attended leaving on a real festive high but doubtlessly eager for more!