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British Army Music Academy Concert

Academy Students; Band of the Grenadier Guards
Conductors: Major Mike Smith; WO1 Sarah Marinescu; C/Sgt Chris Brown
Guards Chapel
London
Friday 12th April

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The British Army Music Academy offers an annual ‘taster’ course for young people who may be considering a career in military music making. 

Eighteen youngsters spent a week at Kneller Hall to gain an insight into what such a life may entail, leading up to this enjoyable concert at the famous Guards Chapel, supported by members of the Band of the Grenadier Guards.

Relished

Opening with the appositely delivered march 'Bravura', they continued with the 'Heroic March' from 'An Epic Symphony' in an effective transcription for wind band.

Music of stage and screen featured prominently; starting with 'Star Wars - The Force Awakens'. Emerging themes from the earlier films were seized on with alacrity as the young musicians relished the experience.

John Barry's 'Out of Africa' evoked the vast expanses of the Savannah plains alongside the films more romantic themes, with some confident solo playing on show.

A lively selection from 'Grease' featured a super saxophone soloist amid its fairly dense scoring that kept everyone busy, whilst L/Sgt Ian Shepherd, a tuba player with the band, was the arranger of 'Wicked on the Forecourt', a high-energy selection from one of the most popular musicals of recent years.

Two more sophisticated items from the wind band repertoire followed: Nigel Hess's 'New York' capturing the hustle and bustle of the busy metropolis, with the hard-working percussionists contributing various whistles and sirens to the scene. 

John Barry's 'Out of Africa' evoked the vast expanses of the Savannah plains alongside the films more romantic themes, with some confident solo playing on show.

Impressive

In contrast, the elegant 'Gallimaufry' was developed from music Guy Woolfenden wrote for the Royal Shakespeare Company. There were some lovely sustained phrases and both flute and piccolo made the most of their solo passages.

The concert ended with 'Resplendent'; steeped in the film music tradition, with a majestic trumpet theme taken up by the rest of the ensemble. The horns were particularly impressive, including the youngster on tenor horn who transposed much of the music during the concert.

It was a very uplifting evening, aided by insights into the non-musical aspects of the week. Conducting duties were shared between Major Mike Smith, WO1 Sarah Marinescu and C/Sgt Chris Brown, who had been with the group all week.

Peter Bale

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B.Mus (Hons), LTCL, PGCE
Conductor, adjudicator, arranger