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