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Mountbatten Festival of Music

Massed Bands of Her Majesty's Royal Marines
Conductors: Lt Col Jon Ridley, Major Huw Williams, Major Ian Davis, Captain Andy Gregory
Royal Albert Hall
Saturday 10th March

The annual Mountbatten Festival followed the usual tried and trusted format of massed bands and soloists, together with state of the art lighting and effects.  

A fourteen-strong fanfare team joined the band for the National Anthem before presenting 'Fanfare for the Fleet Commander'.  The Corps of Drums were especially good; from the precision and choreography of the drum display 'Western Front' to the impeccable bugle playing in 'Zeebrugge'.


The classics were represented by the overture 'Isabella', 'Espana Rhapsody' and 'Appalachian Spring', with some particularly delicate woodwind playing on show.

Amongst the featured soloists were Sophie Perriam (alto sax) with 'Pequena Czardas', Ruth Wardle (violin) with 'Meditation from Thais' and a humorous duet version of 'Flight of the Bumble Bee' (in costume), from Simon Topper (clarinet) and Peter Eskrett (bass clarinet).

The first half ended with 'Spectrum'; a pop medley with four first-class singers and some fine flugel playing by Steve Saleh. Meanwhile, an acoustic guitar was used effectively in 'Black is the Colour of My True Love's Hair', although elsewhere the keyboard sound was at times a little too dominant.

Rousing start

'Star Wars' made for a rousing start to the second half, with trumpets and horns to the fore, whilst 'Stairway to Heaven' began gently, with guitar, vocals and woodwinds, before building to a tremendous climax complete with electric guitar solo.  The march 'Captain General' was played in honour of Prince Harry, who was in attendance.

The finale, 'Never Forgotten', was a multi-media production commemorating the Royal Marines' involvement in the First World War. 

Starting with enlistment ('Pack up your Troubles') it continued through Gallipoli, Jutland and the Western Front, culminating in the 1918 raid on Zeebrugge. The battles were vividly depicted in music, with a solo bugle played by Ben Wheeler.

Musical tastes

A setting of 'Evening Hymn and Sunset' using the melody 'Slane' did not gel very well, and the soprano for 'Rule Britannia' appeared to miss her cue. 

However, those minor mishaps notwithstanding, it was an enjoyable evening catering for a range of musical tastes. 

John Suchet was the knowledgeable compere, and he was handed a trombone to join the band in the encore, 'Can You Feel It?'

Peter Bale

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