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Band of the Irish Guards

Conductors: Major Bruce Miller & WO1 Andrew Porter
Guards Chapel
Thursday 7th September

The Band of the Irish Guards presented this enjoyable concert in the form of a travelogue around the British Isles; starting in Ireland with the march 'Star of Erin', with its attractive obbligato for flute and piccolo. 

It was followed by Charles Stanford's overture 'Shamus O'Brien', which deserves to be better known for the way in which it paints a bucolic portrait of rural Ireland and its lovable rogue of a hero.

Prelude to brilliance

Across the Irish Sea to England with Edward Gregson's 'Prelude to an Occasion', written for Black Dyke but linked to the Irish Guards through two former Directors of Music, George Willcocks and Jiggs Jaeger.  The ‘occasion’ that followed was excellent; WO1 Andrew Porter and LCpl Liam Grunsell bringing a great sense of fun to the euphonium duet of 'Brillante'.

The ‘occasion’ that followed was excellent; WO1 Andrew Porter and LCpl Liam Grunsell bringing a great sense of fun to the euphonium duet of 'Brillante'.

Andrew then took the baton for 'Padstow Lifeboat', all pacy mayhem and foghorn fun, before the first half ended in Wales with three sections from 'Day of the Dragon'; the merry 'Welsh Clog Dance', the beautifully languid 'Suo Gan', featuring the nicely restrained trombone playing of CSgt Paul Hooper, and a rousing 'Men of Harlech'.

Scottish detour

After the break it was a quick detour to Scotland, with the march 'Jocks Away', before LSgt Mark McLauchlin took up the mantle of Rabbie Burns in Peter Graham's 'Alloway Tales'. 'Duncan Gray' and 'Afton Water' then preceded the energetic 'The De'ils Awa wi the Exciseman', with its dark, disturbing sounds and quotes from the 'Dies Irae'.

Traditional elements

The concert ended with the traditional elements from the Last Night of the Proms. 

Extracts from Henry Wood’s 'Fantasia on British Sea Songs' opened with extended fanfares with Liam Grunsell in 'The Saucy Arethusa' and Sgt Helen Harris (Coldstream Guards) as the fiddler in 'The Sailor's Hornpipe' the featured soloists. 

Lt Bethan Waters (Band and Bugles of the Rifles) was also an admirable soloist in 'Rule Britannia', going on to lead the singing in 'Land of Hope and Glory' and 'Jerusalem'. 

The concert concluded with the band's Regimental March, 'St Patrick's Day' as we returned full circle to the Emerald Isle in a concert that effectively and enjoyable touched on every corner of the British Isles. 

Peter Bale

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