Rochester Cathedral

Rochester Cathedral Concert

Throughout 2011, the Concerts in Cathedrals series is celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Royal British Legion.  Over 40 cathedrals in England and Wales will host concerts, with the Central Band performing five of them.

The Norman church of Rochester Cathedral was the final venue as the Central Band finished off their contribution to the Legion’s 90th Anniversary celebrations in style.  It was the perfect location for a concert that combined celebration, remembrance and patriotism.

The Central Band’s fifth concert was a “greatest hits” from the previous four in the series.  After the National Anthem (including Gordon Jacob’s Coronation fanfare) had finished ringing round the ancient cathedral, the Central Band began the proceedings with Sir Vivian Dunn’s march ‘Cockleshell Heroes’.

An all-singing, toe-tapping first half followed with ‘Dixieland Jamboree’, popular songs from World War II, famous tunes from Glenn Miller and Captain David Cole’s awesome arrangement of Lennon and McCartney classics.

The second half was dedicated to commemorating the sacrifice of those who have given their lives in the service of Queen and country.  Soprano Margaret Threadgold joined Phil Willans on soprano saxophone and the rest of the Central Band to perform Karl Jenkins’ ‘Benedictus’.  A simple act of remembrance followed and everyone in the cathedral stood in silence as the ‘Last Post’ and ‘Reveille’ were sounded.

The trumpet calls of Sir Henry Wood’s ‘Fantasia on British Sea Songs’ signalled the start of the flag-waving finale with Margaret Threadgold returning to the stage to lead the audience in the singing of ‘Rule Britannia’, ‘Jerusalem’ and ‘Land of Hope and Glory’.

With the concert over, the audience were in for a final treat as they departed to the march of The Royal British Legion.  A fitting end to a fantastic series of concerts to celebrate the Legion’s 90th year.

As part of the Concerts in Cathedrals series, the Central Band have already played at:

Truro Cathedral

Truro Cathedral Concert

Throughout 2011, the Concerts in Cathedrals series is celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Royal British Legion.  Over 40 cathedrals in England and Wales will host concerts, with the Central Band performing five of them.

With a long trip to the bewitching county of Cornwall, the fourth of the Central Band’s cathedral concerts was staged at Truro Cathedral.  The ‘Heroes’ concert was dedicated to the eight servicemen from Cornwall killed on duty in Afghanistan and the presence of their families as guests of honour added a particularly poignancy.

The Central Band shared the stage in Truro with a number of local artists.  The cathedral’s head chorister began the concert with ‘O for the Wings of a Dove’ and there were also performances from the Steve Panter trio and Jonathan Delbridge on piano.

It was also a night for the Central Band’s soloists to shine.  Elaine Ball gave a hauntingly beautiful performance of ‘Gabriel’s Oboe’, the trombone of Paul Coker served up a dazzling rendition of ‘The Rose’ and Tim Mulkern took to the pulpit with his trumpet to play ‘High on a Hill’.

The scorching ‘Slavonic Rhapsody No. 2’ demonstrated the dexterity of the Central Band’s clarinet section before the audience stood to sing ‘Jerusalem’, Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry’s famous setting of William Blake’s poem.

With the audience in fine voice the Central Band shamelessly played to the local crowd with the song of the western men, ‘Trelawny’.  The Cornish men and women didn’t disappoint as they belted out the words:

“And shall Trelawny live?
And shall Trelawny die?
Here’s twenty thousand Cornish men
Will know the reason why!”
 

A unique end to an emotional but uplifting concert.

See also:  BBC News

The Central Band will be playing in one more cathedral in 2011:

  • Rochester Cathedral – 1st October

As part of the Concerts in Cathedrals series, the Central Band have already played at:

Eastbourne Bandstand

Eastbourne 2011

The Central Band recently completed a week of concerts on the famous bandstand at Eastbourne. All concerts were exceptionally well attended and the reaction from the Band’s many followers was as enthusiastic as ever. The weather held up for the most part, with a slightly damp Thursday, though this didn’t stop the afternoon concert and the evening dance band gig was performed to a full house.

The Wednesday evening 1812 and Fireworks concert was played to an enthusiastic, capacity audience. David Cole announced that the Band had been booked for the week beginning on Sunday 29 July 2012, so book your holiday now!

Wimbledon logo

The Wimbledon Championships

The Central Band of the Royal British Legion performed on both the Saturday and Sunday of Finals weekend of the 125th Wimbledon Championships.

At precisely 10:30am the gates to the All England Club were opened and the crowd flooded towards Heman Hill.  This being Finals weekend, getting a good spot to watch the tennis on the giant TV screen was essential.

They were greeted by the sounds of the Central Band playing marches, swing, hits from stage and screen, trad jazz, popular classical and classic pop.  As the sun beat down on SW19, the Central Band entertained the crowd for two hours.

By 12:30pm the Hill was full of tennis fans and picnics and prosecco seemed to be the order of the day – not forgetting the famous strawberries and cream!  Journalists from across the world moved through the crowd and more than one member of the band had a camera crew film a close-up just as there was a particularly tricky passage of music to concentrate on.

At 1pm the Central Band walked onto Centre Court and, stood on the hallowed lawn, entertained the crowd as they took their seats for the final.  The band played a mixture of marches such as ‘The Thin Red Line’ and ‘Blaze Away’; the fiery ‘Sabre Dance’; easy listening music including ‘Consider Yourself’, ‘New York, New York’ and ‘Hey Look Me Over’; and a medley of sea shanties that had the crowd clapping along.

As the Central Band played, the BBC went live from the side of Centre Court.  Millions at home could hear the band in the background as Sue Barker interviewed tennis legends Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe.  This split opinion on the Twittersphere between those who absolutely loved the band, and those who didn’t love them quite so much!

The rousing ovation from the Centre Court crowd as the Central Band departed at 1:50pm to make way for the finalists made it very clear that they were definately “band lovers”.

See also:  Central Band on Centre Court – photo from official Wimbledon website

Lincoln Cathedral

Lincoln Cathedral Concert with Blake

Throughout 2011, the Concerts in Cathedrals series is celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Royal British Legion.  Over 40 cathedrals in England and Wales will host concerts, with the Central Band performing five of them.

The Central Band’s concert in the stunning venue of Lincoln Cathedral with special guests Blake was a great success.

The news of the Royal British Legion’s flagship band sharing a platform with the classical “boyband” meant that the sell-out audience of over 600 were queueing round the outside of the cathedral right up until the start of the concert.  Although at times it was difficult to work out who was more excited about this collaboration – the audience, or the ladies of the Central Band!

The Central Band took the audience back to early 20th century with marches such as ‘Imperial Echos’ and the tunes of the great Glenn Miller.  Blake then performed a selection from their diverse repertoire including the spiritual ‘Steal Away’ and Snow Patrol’s ‘Chasing Cars’.

In 1943, the 19 Lancaster Bombers of 617 Squadron took off from RAF Scampton and, passing the towering Lincoln Cathedral, set course for the Ruhr valley.  68 years later in that very same catherdral, the ‘Dambuster’s March’ opened the second half of the Central Band’s concert with Blake.

The second half included the much anticipated collaboration with Blake and the Central Band performing together under the baton of Captain David Cole.  Blake’s moving rendition of ‘Bring Him Home’ and the Central Band’s performance of ‘Hymn to the Fallen’ then preceded a moment of silence as the audience remembered all those who have died serving their country.

The concert culminated with the Central Band, Blake and the audience combining for a patriotic finale of ‘Jerusalem’ and ‘Land of Hope and Glory’.

The Central Band will be playing in two more cathedrals in 2011:

  • Truro Cathedral – 24th September
  • Rochester Cathedral – 1st October

As part of the Concerts in Cathedrals series, the Central Band have already played at:

Southwark Cathedral

Southwark Cathedral Concert

Throughout 2011, the Concerts in Cathedrals series is celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Royal British Legion.  Over 40 cathedrals in England and Wales will host concerts, with the Central Band performing five of them.

Southwark Cathedral on the south bank of the River Thames was the venue for the Central Band’s second cathedral concert.  This was a “home gig” for the band who rehearse just eight miles away in Norbury, South London.  Former ‘All Angel’ Laura Wright joined the Central Band to take the audience on a musical journey through the past 90 years.

The programme contained music from ever decade of the Royal British Legion’s existance.  From the Dixieland sounds of the 1920s, past the swing, marches and popular songs of the 30s and 40s.  There was a revival of 1960s Beatlemania and even a nod to Abba’s famous 1974 Eurovision success, before a tribute to the late John Barry with his music for the film ‘Out of Africa’.

With the Central Band accompanying, Laura enchanted the audience with ‘O Waly Waly’ and ‘Lavender’s Blue’, songs from her new album ‘The Last Rose’.  Finally, the concert was brought into the 21st century by the Central Band’s rendition of ‘You Raise Me Up’, featuring a barnstorming flugel and trumpet solo by Tim Mulkern.

The evening was rounded off with the Central Band, Laura Wright and the audience combining to raise the roof of the cathedral with the hymn ‘I Vow To Thee My Country’.

The Central Band will be playing in three more cathedrals in 2011:

  • Lincoln Cathedral – 25th June
  • Truro Cathedral – 24th September
  • Rochester Cathedral – 1st October

As part of the Concerts in Cathedrals series, the Central Band have already played at:

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral Concert

Throughout 2011, the Concerts in Cathedrals series is celebrating the 90th anniversary of the Royal British Legion.  Over 40 cathedrals in England and Wales will host concerts, with the Central Band performing five of them.

The majestic Canterbury Cathedral provided the setting for the first of the Central Band’s concerts.  ‘Liberty Fanfare’ welcomed the sell-out audience as the combined sound of brass, woodwind and percussion reverberated round the long, high nave.

The first half also included a medley of hits from Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, the ‘Knightsbridge March’ (better known as the theme tune to the BBC radio show In Town Tonight) and a selection of tunes from the songwriters of “Tin Pan Alley”.

‘Wootton Bassett’, a march written in tribute to the Wiltshire market town’s role in military repatriations, began the second half.  Soprano Margaret Threadgold, who had sung Kashif’s beautiful ‘Ave Maria’ before the interval, rejoined the Central Band on stage to begin the act of remembrance with ‘Benedictus’ from ‘The Armed Man’.

Following the act of remembrance, the standards were marched off to ‘Old Comrades’ and Cantebury Cathedral was transformed into the Royal Albert Hall for a “Last Night of the Proms” patriotic finale.

The Central Band will be playing in four more cathedrals in 2011:

  • Southwark Cathedral – 27th May
  • Lincoln Cathedral – 25th June
  • Truro Cathedral – 24th September
  • Rochester Cathedral – 1st October