It’s always good to report a full house at any of the band’s concerts and this one at the wonderful, atmospheric Romsey Abbey was no exception. Not a spare seat to be found – such was the popularity of this event.
Those that could only get tickets for the aisles behind the large pillars, did not miss out, as video screens were erected and the whole event was filmed to ensure their evening’s enjoyment.
Much credit for this resoundingly successful concert must also go to the very popular Military Wives Choir (Portsmouth) (pictured below) who were absolutely superb. The choir clearly respond exceptionally well to their musical director, Ben Charles, who must take a lot of the credit for the way he has musically moulded them into such a successful unit. Ben must also be very proud of their achievements to date. MWC band at Romsey
Their beautiful voices, their exqusite harmonies and diction made every single song come to life. One particular stunning performance was the “Rhythm of Life” from the show, “Sweet Charity.” One or two of us even discovered the hairs on the back of our necks standing on end. Thank you Ladies!
The concert opened with the more uplifting version of the National Anthem by Gordon Jacob. (Trumpets suit the wonderful acoustics of an Abbey like this!)
First item on the programme was Lt Col Sir F Vivian Dunn’s appropriate “Mountbatten March” which was very well received here in a town that was almost his own.
Jon Yates was next up on Piccolo Trumpet to perfectly execute John Stanley’s “Trumpet Voluntary” taking full advantage of the pulpit to perform this stirring piece accompanied by the band. Jon Soloing Purple Backing
This was followed with a selection from the popular musical “Les Miserables” with notable solo’s from Jon Yates again (seen left – trumpet) Robert Scarrett (french horn – below)
Robert Scarrettand Elaine Coker (oboe) (right). ElaineEven the music seemed to suit this lovely old Norman Abbey!
It was now time for the Military Wives Choir to take to the stage where they performed four lovely pieces, “Annies Song”, “Imagine”, a popular “Vera Lynn Medley” and completing with Gareth Malone’s “Stronger Together”. All accompanied by Lyndon Ford, and all under the baton of Ben Charles.
Next came the beautiful Oboe playing of soloist Elaine Coker again when she stepped up to the pulpit to perform Eric Morricone’s haunting and delightful Gabriels Oboe – theme to the film The Mission. Well played Elaine. The audience told you how exquisite that sounded!
The first half of the evening then completed with Higgins excellent arrangement of The Beatles music entitled “Echoes of an Era.” This selection featured soloists, Robert Scarrett on French Horn, Brian Allen on Euphonium,Brian Allen (seen right) Jon Yates on Piccolo Trumpet again, Elaine Coker Oboe and husband Paul Coker Trombone Paul Coker at RMM(below) How the audience loved and responded to all of those iconic and memorable melodies!
Following a busy sale of CD’s during the interval, the band resumed their places to open the 2nd half with Lt Col Sir Vivian Dunn’s famous film theme to “The Cockleshell Heroes” that went down exceptionally well with this audience. Many no doubt recalling the true life film of those exceptionally brave Royal Marine canoeists in WW2.
Then came the turn of yet another soloist for the evening, Alto Saxophone leader Eric front of display boardEric Payne (seen here left) to brillantly perform Rodrigo’s beautiful “Adagio” in a way that only Eric can!
Band MWC RomseyOnce more The Military Wives (MWC) returned to sing Wherever You Are, a song made famous around Christmas 2012 for the MWC when they sold 556,000 copies in the last week! – more than the rest of the top 12 combined, the Official Charts Company said! – They swiftly followed that with a Gary Barlow “Take That” hit, Rule the World. – Then in contrast, came the fantastic Rhythm of Life (referred to earlier) sung at a very swift pace yet crystal clear, before concluding their set with the beautiful, yet soulful On My Own from Les Miserables to a very deserved and lengthy applause.
The band then returned to perform a stirring theme & variation arrangement of Oh Praise Ye the Lord” by Gregson entitled “Laudate Dominium”. The hymn theme recurs in various forms throughout the piece, building throughout to a grand and majestic climax which proved a popular choice and was very well received by our now very enthusiastic audience!
The MWC then returned once again to perform “Sing” a lovely melodic number written by Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Gary Barlow for the Queens Golden Jubilee last year.
Into the Finale, and Mc Dermott’s lengthy and poignant arrangement of Eternal Father (“Hymn to the Sea”) was then performed jointly by the band and the MWC and once more we were shown the audience’s approval before Elgar’s,”Pomp and Circumstance No.1″ (Land of Hope and Glory) that never fails to get everyone singing of course, and for the encore, Dir’ of Music Capt Dave Cole insisted everyone stand in order to belt out those famous and most memorable words!
This great concert then rounded off as always with both traditional Royal Navy and Royal Marines regimental marches, “Hearts Of Oak” and “A Life On The Ocean Wave”
Finally, a very special thanks must go to both Jan Blandford and Flo’ Flood for putting on such a maginficent spread once again for both the band and the Military Wives Choir and for providing drinks and snacks throughout the afternoon’s rehearsals. Well done indeed ladies! xx from us all!