Fanfare Magazine, June 2009 Article by Musn Tina Ball The winter months have been varied for the Royal Artillery Band. The year began with a Roulement tour at Kneller Hall, with the Orchestra proud to provide support to training. There have also been guard changes both at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, recruiting events with two Look at Life weeks, the continuation of the Ballroom series of concerts and many dinner nights. In addition to this the Band have already managed to fit in Adventurous training in Livigno, Italy. The Orchestra The Royal Artillery Orchestra is known as the oldest established orchestra within the UK. It is now in full swing again following a period of uncertainty that surrounded it's future. The Orchestra’s 2009 concert series began in February with a Valentine’s special. The evenings highlight was a fine performance of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, performed by LBdr Nick Whitehead. Following this the evening ended with an exciting performance of the Cinderella Ballet suite by Prokofiev, truly amazing music. The April concert provided the orchestra with an opportunity to explore the works of the big screen with a tribute to the Oscars. The concert was of course a sell out, something that we have come to expect, and the exciting programme included the full Symphonic Dances from West Side Story by Bernstein, again truly amazing music and very testing for the musicians of the orchestra. The long established series of concerts that now run in the Ballroom, Woolwich, can trace its beginnings back to the turn of the twentieth century at the Royal Albert Hall. Today the concerts run all year round taking place every two months in Woolwich, providing the orchestra with an excellent opportunity to air some varied exciting programmes and develop repertoire. Recruiting The Recruiting team has worked incredibly hard to date this year and impressively has nine recruits committed to joining the band in the near future. The relatively new team is headed up by Sgt ‘Rex’ Harrison and now runs three work experience courses a year, usually in February, July and October. There has been great interest shown in these courses with potential recruits enjoying a typical week with the band. Recently a new scheme has been established with local music colleges, in particular Trinity College of Music, located in Greenwich, where pupils at the college join the band and orchestra for a taster of working in a busy musical outfit. For April’s Ballroom concert two musicians, Rowan Bell from the Royal College of Music and Iain Ward from the Guildhall School of Music joined the orchestra as guest soloists to perform the Brahms double concerto for Violin and 'Cello. Their excellent musicianship and professionalism resulted in an amazing performance and hopefully the beginnings of two rewarding associations with the colleges. Adventurous Training In February twenty members of the Royal Artillery Band joined up with twelve musicians from the Army Air Corps Band and set off for Livigno, Italy for this year's skiing exercise. The journey consisted of a brief flight and a long transfer, a very long transfer. The first half of the transfer was fairly non-descript, however the second half climb through the mountains was as spectacular as any scenery in the world. This had a mixed effect upon the coach with it whetting the appetite of those who had skied before and putting the fear of god into those who hadn’t! Fortunately upon arrival with the three metres of snow there was a nice selection of nursery slopes. The skiing conditions were fantastic and the scenery stunning. The first task for our five instructors was to sort out the ability of all thirty pupils, so an opening run was set up for the assessment. The beginners made the most of the gentle nursery slopes gaining confidence and facing their fears. The intermediate group set off with LCpl Stewart Roberts to study the art of parallel skiing with the advanced group with Musn Adam Paley and LCpl Ben Kidds aimed for the top of the mountain to perfect pole planting. The week concluded with assessments for BSP and ASP and finally a very competitive slalom, only resulting in the need for one pair of crutches for the return journey home. Returning troops In March we were lucky enough to travel to RFU Twickenham for a medal parade to support 7th Armoured Brigade. Many of the band had not performed in the stadium since the large redevelopment of the south stand. There were a few gasps from the band upon arrival entering into the empty stadium for a rehearsal, just amazed at the sheer vastness of the structure. Of course it was a different atmosphere when the stadium was full of eighty two thousand vocal England and Scotland supporters and the band marched out with the troops of 7th Armoured Brigade on a lap of the ground. The atmosphere was electric and it was a fantastic, worthwhile way of welcoming home the troops who wholly deserve such a parade at a high profile sporting event. They received their medals which were presented by the Princess Royal for their recent tour of duty in Iraq. Following the parade the Band performed God Save the Queen then the Flower of Scotland with G4’s Jonathan Ansell. It was a fantastic experience for both the band and more importantly the returning troops and one not to forget. Later that evening the Bands Brass Quintet performed a long standing engagement for the post match dinner hosted by the England rugby team. Along similar lines, in mid April, the band travelled to Plymouth for three days to welcome home some of our very own. 29 Commando Royal Artillery had recently returned from an arduous tour of Afghanistan and an impressive welcome home party had been planned in their absence. Upon arrival it was apparent that there was a large media presence, both local and national. The band marched the entire regiment from the Royal Citadel to a remembrance and thanksgiving service at St Andrew's Church. Here LBdr Danckert performed Last Post for the two soldiers who had not returned home. The day progressed to a medal ceremony at the piazza with thousands of local supporters boasting flags to show their support before a march back up the hill to return to the Citadel. Again, the day provided the regiment with a day to remember and the local support was incredible. It was a pleasure to support the troops. CD Recording For some time now the band have been working hard rehearsing a challenging programme of music to record. In March the band travelled to Chatham and set up in the dockyard Church to begin adjusting to the acoustic and laying down some material. The CD takes it title from a piece called Excel, a work left in the wake of Sgt Graeme Reynolds from Op. Longlook. The exciting piece written by Sean O'Boyle celebrates forty years of music in the Australian Army Band Corps. Also recorded was an arrangement by the Bandmaster of the Captain Blood overture. Most challenging of all was Aaron Coplands' El Salon Mexico premiered by the band having never been recorded by an Army Band before. Hopefully Mike Purton of SRC will finish editing the material soon and Excel can be added to the collection of CD's. Hail and Farewell The RA Band recently bid farewell to LBdr Richard Willis and Musn Sally Bane. Upon completing her phase two training, now, Sapper Sally Bane has begun a new career in the Corps of Royal Engineers. Also Musn Ed Steel leaves us and begins work at the Band of the Prince of Wales’s Division soon. We wish them both the very best of luck and hope to see them again in the not too distant future. We welcome Musns Eben Smith and Richard Martin who have recently joined the Band having completed their training at Kneller Hall. Finally congratulations are in order for Bdr Jo Towns and LBdr Matthew Hart who have recently been promoted. Fanfare Magazine, December 2009 Article by LBdr Danckert The latter half of 2009 has been exciting but intense for the members of The Royal Artillery Band, and in true Gunner style it has been unbelievably diverse. The last six months tell the story of the band covering miles of the Mall, climbing the hill to Windsor Castle, parading at military tattoos in both China and Switzerland, the Orchestra performing with Hayley Westenra, six new applicants and a charity effort that has raised over forty thousand pounds for the ABF and Help for Heroes. The Orchestra The Royal Artillery Orchestra is the oldest established orchestra in the British Isles, steeped in almost two hundred and fifty years of history. However, for the past hundred years the orchestra has participated in a series of concerts which can be traced back to the turn of the twentieth century at the Royal Albert Hall. Today, the concerts still run throughout the year, with performances every two months in Woolwich. Although the 2009 concert season is almost over, this year has provided both the orchestra and the audience with some inspirational musical moments. In July the concert was suitably themed ‘Sounds of Summer’ and included a delicate performance of Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez by LBdr Alan Lambert, Sunday Morning from Britten's Four Sea Interludes, and the incredible sounds of Ravel’s Bolero. The October concert was traditionally themed ‘Last Night of the Proms’ and although it did include the inevitable Pomp and Circumstance No 1 and Jerusalem, the programme excited the packed audience with some challenging orchestral works: the little known Grand National Fantasia by Charles Baetens, the fantastic Pacific 231 by Arthur Honneger and - following in the footsteps of Alison Balsom at the BBC's Last Night - Bdr Martin Hinton's flawless performance of the Haydn Trumpet Concerto in E Flat. Recruiting The band recruiting team has continued its valuable work from last year and is already well on target to exceed last year's eight applicants with six to date already. The team is now rapidly gaining experience, developing many new ideas and running three 'work experience' courses a year with numbers reaching well over twenty on a regular basis. The July course had twenty-six subscribers and culminated with an impressive concert at Woolwich to a selected audience including family and teachers. In September Musn Joe Dickens, the newest member of the team, travelled to a selection of establishments which offer higher education using 'freshers fairs' to promote an opportunity to visit the band and orchestra as a guest soloist. Following the success of this idea, which was trialled earlier this year, it is hoped that similar rewards will be achieved again. Beyond the United Kingdom For most members of the band a trip to Algiers in June was their first visit to Africa. The purpose of the short visit was to provide incidental music at the British Embassy for the Queens Birthday Parade. After a very hot midday rehearsal, the event was well received with a beautiful moment as the band played John Barry's Out of Africa to an idyllic Algerian sunset. By stark contrast only three weeks later the band were jetting off to Switzerland to take part in the rapidly developing, very impressive Basel International Military Tattoo. The tattoo lived up to everyone's expectations and can only be described as the best organised engagement ever - in fact it ran just like the proverbial Swiss timepiece! The tattoo included regular visitors in the shape of the Band of the Coldstream Guards and the mounted Blues and Royals from the British contingent, and the now world famous Swiss Top Secret Drum Corps, who were this time on home turf as opposed to the first time we met in Edinburgh, 2003. The final overseas trip of 2009 was in late October, taking the band to the other side of the world to China for the Nanchang Military Tattoo. The mammoth journey took almost forty- eight hours, involving two planes, a stop in Dubai and a twelve hour overnight train journey from Beijing to Nanchang; an experience that wouldn't have been out of place in a Michael Palin documentary. The combined effects of fatigue from the gruelling journey coupled with the busy rehearsal schedule of the first few days was challenging, but met with excitement by the band as it was historically the first time The Royal Artillery Band had performed in China. The band were accompanied by five pipers from 19 Regt Royal Artillery to assist with our programme showcasing British music. The tattoo featured twelve bands from across the world including bands from Singapore, Hong Kong, and of course China. Also included were a band from Russia, and the United States Eighth Army Band from their base in Korea. Our cultures and traditions were met with great interest by all the bands who were incredibly welcoming and appreciative of our presence; naturally we were equally interested in the vastly different cultures of the east. A combined concert with the Singapore Army Band, who played music by Grainger and Alfred Reed, was a particular highlight, concluding with Walton's Crown Imperial. The RA Band has been invited to return next year for the Shanghai Tattoo - but will of course pass this invitation to HQ RF to re-allocate in order that another band can benefit from a once-in-a-lifetime trip to China. The Voice of the Guns 'Voice of the Guns' is the new name given to the revamped Royal Artillery Rock Orchestra, formerly known as Funkatelic. They have performed with massive success at the last two Rhythm Force concerts and used this as a catalyst to take them to the cutting edge. The Royal Artillery Band is unique in that the string capability of the orchestra can be added to the mix to create a whole new sound and look. It is this, coupled with the vocal capabilities of Sgt Al Moore and Musn Suzy Pearce, that makes Voice of the Guns one of the RA Band's most sought after ensembles. The group featured at the Basel Tattoo as both pre-show music and after show entertainment in the cast bar where they entertained hundreds of international performers from the show. Voice of the Guns is increasing the frequency of its engagements and in December is visiting Germany to entertain the Royal Artillery Regiments. Charity Work The Royal Artillery Band has a long history of successful charity support having consistently raised substantial amounts for the CAMUS trust and many military charities. This year has been no exception with the most impressive event being a joint charity concert with the Belvedere Concert Band, a local community band who have had a long relationship with the Royal Artillery Band, at the Orchard theatre in Dartford. The concert was in aid of Help for Heroes, and featured guest speaker and ambassador for the charity, Major Phil Packer. It was a sell-out of almost one thousand seats and featured an exciting programme of music including the vocal talents of local vocalist Shane Hampsheir. After an inspired speech by Major Phil Packer the grand total raised was in excess of twelve thousand pounds. On a different note and for a different charity seven brass players joined an old friend of the band, Simon Sturgeon-Clegg, at St John's, Smith Square for a concert in aid of Combat Stress. The line-up featured a mouthwatering array of brass players including Crispian Steele- Perkins, Paul Archibald and Noel Langley, and was compered by another friend of the band - Frank Renton. The concert featured some amazing brass playing and managed to raise almost two thousand pounds for Combat stress. In addition to this the band has successfully worked for the Army Benevolent Fund on two occasions, firstly at Oakham in Leicestershire and more recently at Salisbury Cathedral. The concert was attended by almost fifteen hundred people and featured guest soloist Hayley Westernra along with 'Raven', an all girl string quartet. The evening was a showcase for the talents of the versatile musicians of the Royal Artillery Band, featuring fanfare trumpets and post horns in the towers, the orchestra, the concert band and 'Voice of the Guns'. It was an incredibly rewarding night, raising an impressive thirty thousand pounds for the Army Benevolent Fund, Combat Stress and SSAFA. Away from music members of the band have still been pro-active in raising money for charity. In June six of us were joined by family and friends for the British Heart Foundation's London to Brighton bike ride. The day was challenging - particularly on a tandem - but everyone successfully completed the fifty-four mile course and raised eight hundred and twenty five pounds. More recently the Bandmaster, WO1 Tony Williams, ran the 'Run to the Beat' half marathon in and around south-east London raising over eight hundred pounds for Help for Heroes. Hail and Farewell The band has recently said au revoir to Bombardiers Justin Cummings and Tony Pemberton. Bdr Cummings had served an impressive twenty two years, the majority with Royal Artillery. He leaves the band as a highly regarded and respected Saxophonist and Viola player and his musicianship and camaraderie will be missed. Bdr Pemberton has left to further a career with IT Solutions, again his experience as Principal Tuba and Drum Major will be missed. The band wishes them both every success for the future. We are proud to welcome Musn Chris Brown to the band, particularly the orchestra where his skills as an accomplished violinist are invaluable.