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A Celebration of English Music and Composers

Household Division Music Festival 2019
Band of the Household Cavalry
Conductors: Major Justin Matthews & WO2 Ben Ruffer
Guards Chapel
London
Thursday 27th June

Following the 'National Anthem', the band certainly made their mark with 'Intrada' by Major Matthews, neatly building the music around the four cavalry trumpets, but employing keys far removed from their basic pitch. 

More traditional fare followed with Elgar's 'March from the Crown of India Suite', before coming up to date with Elton John's 'The Lion King'.

Nicely controlled

Percy Grainger's more restrained orchestrations of 'Irish tune from County Derry' followed, with a nicely controlled opening on horn and euphonium before sharing the mellifluous sounds of the woodwind. The third verse employed the full ensemble, including a very impressive rotary-valve BBb tuba – definitely not one to take out when on horseback!

The first half ended with 'The Beatles – Echoes of an Era', a well crafted selection that crams in many of the best-known songs, although some only appearing as links. Soloists included euphonium and piccolo trumpet in 'Penny Lane' and bravura horns in 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds'.

Rob Wiffin's 'Shining Sword', the title track of the band's new recording, made for a fine opener to the second half, and he was also responsible for a setting of 'Here's a Health' that moved from the Elizabethan Court to more contemporary sounds.

Rob Wiffin's 'Shining Sword', the title track of the band's new recording, made for a fine opener to the second half, and he was also responsible for a setting of 'Here's a Health' that moved from the Elizabethan Court to more contemporary sounds. 

Extended setting

In between, the band played 'Albion Heritage', a trilogy by Philip Sparke incorporating 'The Girl I Left Behind Me', 'O Waley Waley' and 'Men of Harlech', taken from his 'Celtic Suite' for brass.

An extended setting of 'Scarborough Fair' used keyboard and glockenspiel to support the flute melody, before the concert closed (a little early to allow people to see the England Ladies football team in action), with Paul Lovatt-Cooper's 'Walking with Heroes' - its opening melody powerfully declaimed on the trombone.

Lastly, the band played their 'Regimental Walk Marches', making for a more sedate ending than the brisker foot guards equivalents.

Peter Bale

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