The Band of the Royal Hospital School in concert
Last Saturday, the Band and Corps of Drums from the Royal Hospital School took to the stage for an evening of music and pageantry.
Performing to an audience of well over 500 eager concert goers, the band got the evening off to a flying start with a new composition by Ted Ricketts; And the Fire Raged. Inspired by the composer's experience of a wild fire in his native California, the piece was full of drama and excitement, appropriately setting the scene for what was to come.
Next was Goff Richard's concert march, Jaguar, dedicated to the Royal Air Force's Jaguar aircraft. Year 11 trumpet player Oli L had requested for this piece to be played as his father had served with the Jaguar Force a few years previously. During the march, the school's Corps of Drums entered the hall with a rousing demonstration of flamboyant and precise drill. Pietro V, a Year 13 drummer, said: "Our Bandmaster took a few of us to London last year to see the Top Secret Drum Corps perform at the Royal Albert Hall, and this really inspired us to do something special this year."
It was then the trumpet section's chance to shine, and four of them materialised from behind the stage to perform the theme tune to the TV show The A Team, complete with outfits and the opening credits projected on to a large screen. This piece also featured a guest conductor in the guise of Lizzie Merrill; a serving Royal Marines musician who is currently on a three year career break. Lizzie said: "It was an absolute privilege to be given the opportunity to conduct the Royal Hospital School concert band."
This year's concert was to be a concert of 'firsts', seeing the inaugural performance of the school's Junior Corps of Drums who had given themselves the moniker The Outcasts. Comprised mainly of Year 7 and 8 pupils, the group performed brilliantly and were very well received. I'm sure we will be seeing a lot more of them in the future.
The hit TV show Game of Thrones provided the setting for the next piece, and this brand new arrangement by the Bandmaster featured Catie B from Year 12 on cello and the vocal talents of Year 11's Gracie H. This was followed by the finale of the first half, American Trilogy, during which Elvis Presley was most definitely in the building, not once but twice, in the shape of the band's two euphonium players, Year 13's Giles W and Year 11's Will E who performed this as a duet in full Elvis attire.
The second half featured an opening set from the school's Big Band, which delved into the libraries of Dave Brubeck, Chuck Mangione, Dizzy Gilespie and Herby Hancock before the full band took to the stage once more for a world premiere of the march Admiral Jellicoe. Written by Haydon Augarde 100 years ago, this piece had never been performed in public before, and the band did it incredible justice in the presence of the grandson of Admiral Jellicoe, Mr Nick Jellicoe.
The concert concluded with a traditional Naval sunset ceremony, which featured the solo bugle of Year 10's Alex G and Gracie H belting out Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory.
Mr Harvey, the RHS Bandmaster said: "this was my third annual band concert at the school, and the young men and women of the band continually raise the bar every time they perform. They work incredibly hard and are extremely proud of their band. To be able to put on a show like this when so many of them are also preparing for important exams is quite astonishing."