Epsom Concert of Remembrance 2012

With the 2012 Festival of Remembrance paying tribute to Bomber Command, there was no more fitting way to open the Central Band’s annual Epsom Concert of Remembrance than with the famous march ‘Dambusters’.

Highlights of the first half included Marvin Hamlish’s beautiful ‘Through the Eyes of Love’ featuring the trumpet of Tim Mulkern and a haunting alto sax solo by Phil Willans playing ‘What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?’.  A selection of songs from ‘My Fair Lady’ provided an opportunity for the Epsom audience to test their vocal chords as the concert was taken to the interval.

The second half started with the exciting March by Dmitri Shostakovich and then there was time to relax with the sound of the 1940s and the ‘Miller Memories’ and ‘Swing’s the Thing’ medleys.  Another musical selection from the ‘Wizard of Oz’ proceeded a short ceremony of remembrance.  The famous words of Laurence Binyon’s poem ‘For the Fallen’ – featured at the Festival of Remembrance the night before – were sung by Catherine Jack.  In the minutes silence followed the audience stood to remember those who have lost their lives in the service of the country and the Last Post and Reveille sounded from the bugles of Brian and Stuart Rutt.

The concert concluded with stirring march ‘Fame & Glory’ before a rousing rendition of ‘Abba Gold’ sent the audience out singing into the chilly November evening.

As another weekend of remembrance passes by, we remain, as ever, extremely honoured to have been a part of the Royal British Legion’s services and celebrations.  We look forward to hearing the total raised by the Poppy Appeal 2012 and sincerely hope that the ambitious target of£42 million has been achieved.

The Military Wives Choir

Festival of Remembrance 2012

The fanfare trumpet team of the Central Band were once again honoured to be invited to perform in the prestigious Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.  The Royal British Legion’s annual Festival commemorates and honours all those who have lost their lives in conflict and is both a moving and emotional occasion.  The Festival is broadcast on BBC1 and attended by the Queen, members of the Royal Family, the Prime Minister and other senior members of the Government.

The Fanfare Team in rehearsalsThe Central Band’s very own Captain David Cole is also the Festival’s Musical Director and was responsible for shaping the musical features; this year featured Rod Stewart performing Auld Lang Syne and Sailing, X-Factor winner Alexandra Burke and Russell Watson, the Military Wives Choir, the Massed Bands of the Household Division, the RAF Squadronaires and vocal harmony group the Overtones.

The Central Band’s fanfare team, joined by the fanfare team of the Guards, had the privilege of opening the Festival with a specially composed fanfare by Captain David Cole.  This was rapturously received and paved the way for a spectacular show, full of variety and a real sense of occasion.  It is always heartening to see the Chelsea Pensioners (with a combined age of 1,428!) and war widows receive a spontaneous standing ovation during their entrance, as well as hearing some of the moving stories from servicemen and women projected on to large screens around the Albert Hall.

This year’s Festival incorporated a special tribute to the servicemen of RAF Bomber Command.  The arena of the Albert Hall was cleverly transformed into a projection of a Lancaster Bomber flying through the clouds as 7 original members of Bomber Command took their respective crew positions.  Between them, these remarkably brave men flew 246 missions during World War II.

The traditional muster and Act of Remembrance was led by classical vocal group Amore singing Elgar’s Nimrod, followed by Laura Wright – who previously joined the Central Band at Southwark Cathedral – singing a beautiful arrangement of Laurence Binyon’s poem, For the Fallen.

The Central Band’s fanfare team reappeared for the finale to provide an uplifting contribution to the hymns as part of the service that concludes Festival.

As usual, it was a very long day and a huge amount of effort to stitch together such an important production for the two performances.  The smoothness of the day was facilitated by two further members of the Central Band who did a sterling job running around behind the scenes as part of the production team to make sure everyone was in the right place at the right time.

Everyone involved is immensely proud to have been part of The Royal British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance 2012.