When we meet audiences at our concerts they are always curious to find out more about us. Hopefully here are a few useful answers to some of your questions:
How long has the band been running?
The Band has now been running for 71 years. In fact it can trace its roots back to a Home Guard band who met in Epsom during WWII. When the Home Guard were stood down in the winter of 1944 its members decided to form their own British Legion band. Until recently, the longest serving member of the band was David Lawrence who saw all of its 71 years! He joined the Epsom band on clarinet at the age of 17 and was still playing until he sadly passed away in November 2015.
Are you professional musicians?
Technically no – most of us have day jobs and come to rehearsals once a week. However, amongst our ranks we do have a number of professional players, including a saxophonist who played for Amy Winehouse and has featured on Jools Holland and our Eb clarinet player who can regularly be found at the London Coliseum playing with the English National Opera. We also have a number of ex-service musicians and music school graduates.
Are you military?
No. But we do have a number of ex-forces members, representing the Royal Marines, Royal Air Force, Women’s Royal Army Corps and the Parachute Regiment.
We are very proud to support The Royal British Legion and the Poppy Appeal, helping service men and women in need and remembering those who have lost their lives in the service of the country.
So what are your day jobs then?
Our membership includes: a handful of policemen, one former ballet dancer, one graphic designer, a BBC producer, a lawyer, a vet, a chiropodist, a host of civil servants and teachers, and even a couple of PhDs.
Do you march?
It has been known… Most publicly, around Lords cricket ground during the tea breaks, to the strains of Liberty Bell (the Monty Python theme tune). David prefers to call it ‘walking in time to music’, but we don’t undertake formal marching engagements.
Have you met the Queen?
YES! And band folklore has it that she was heard to utter “What a nice noise!”.
Where else do you play?
Some of our favourite gigs of recent years have included the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall, a spot on Centre Court for the Wimbledon finals, concerts at Windsor Castle, a tour of national cathedrals including Westminster Abbey, cruises to both Norway and the Baltic and a chance for the girls to glimpse Prince Harry at the opening of the Garden of Remembrance, Wootton Bassett. We’ve recorded a number of CDs and have appeared on BBC Radios 1, 2 and 3.
Is there an age limit?
No. Our members ages range from 21 to 91!
Who is your conductor? (This question is usually followed by “Isn’t he wonderful?!”)
Our conductor is the effervescent and inimitable Captain David Cole. David is a former Royal Marines Director of Music on HMY Britannia and a highly respected name in the world of military music. We’re very lucky to have him. A bit of a celebrity, you’ll even find him signing CDs at the interval.
How many people are in the band?
At full strength concert band we are around 45 players. We also perform in the guise of various smaller ensembles, including a fanfare team, sax quartet, dance band, woodwind quintet and brass ensemble.