The Band of the Welsh Guards has been a proud representative of its ‘home’ nation for over 100 years - a century and more where they have faced challenges both musical as well as military.
Recent battles honours have been won following the latest rounds of British Army reorganisation - leading to the future strengthening of playing personnel to back to over 50 plus musicians and a new lead at the helm in Major Stewart Halliday.
Optimism has also been enhanced by a commitment to return on a regular basis to Wales through long term community engagement and recruitment initiatives that will see them link up with leading musical organisations.
And with a number of the current ensemble enjoying existing civilian musical links, it could be of compatible benefit to Welsh banding - starting with a number of Guards musicians who headed to Tredegar the following day to lead a workshop for young players.
Major Halliday was making just his second appearance at the helm since his appointment, but his clear direction and immediate confidence in his players was marked - right from the opening ‘Heroic Fanfare’ by Paul Murtha.
It was followed by the stylish resolve of Leslie Statham’s ‘Great and Glorious’, the pert wit to the ‘Marriage of Figaro' and a thick seam of Methodist melancholia seeping through ‘David of the White Rock’. The steely pulse to ‘Sospan!’ by Bez Pendleton could be heard in Llanelli let alone Llanishen.
Musician Andee Birkett was the cracking lead in the vocal/double bass feature ‘Slap that Bass’ whilst all that was missing from the ‘Shirley Bassey Showcase’ was the Tiger Bay Dame herself. ‘Dragon Prelude’ and the encore of ‘Armenian Fire Dance’ were played with a fair splash of passion.
Musician Andee Birkett was the cracking lead in the vocal/double bass feature ‘Slap that Bass’ whilst all that was missing from the ‘Shirley Bassey Showcase’ was the Tiger Bay Dame herself.
The only disappointment was that health and safety volume concerns meant massed item were confined to a splendid ‘Fest Musik Der Stadt Wein’ (aided by the Welsh Guards Fanfare team) and ‘MacArthur Park’.
Instead, the 2019 Welsh Champion dusted off ‘Shine As the Light’ and ‘Hora Staccato’ balanced by excellent solo items from Dewi Griffths on ‘Glorious Ventures’ and Danny Winder on ‘Eyes of a Child’ and the tenderest rendition of ‘The Lord Bless and Keep You’.
‘Folk Festival’ as the encore left the audience catching their breath as they left for home.