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Band of the Grenadier Guards

Journey to the Centre of the Earth
Conductors: Major Michael Smith & WO1 Sarah Marinescu
Guards Chapel
Thursday 5th October

Due to the constraints regarding military music at present, the Grenadier Guards Band's concert was set up as a training exercise, with students from Kneller Hall present to observe and comment. It did, however, offer the opportunity to present repertoire that wouldn't fit within their usual ceremonial duties.

Centre of the earth

Following Jack Stamp's sparkling 'Fanfare for a New Age', 'Navigation Inn' was somewhat lost in the acoustic. However, the wind band version of 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth' opened atmospherically; the woodwind scoring oddly reminiscent at times of passages in 'Rite of Spring'. 

There were a few uncomfortable moments, possibly with the piece coming so early in the programme, but it was a convincing performance of a work that was unfamiliar to most of the audience.

Music around the world

Sgt Simon Hall was the excellent trombone soloist in 'Autumn Leaves', standing head and shoulders over WO1 Sarah Marinescu, who was conducting. The lively music of 'Wicked' followed (arranged by tuba player Ian Shepherd) preceding Nigel Hess's popular 'Global Variations', written for the National Children's Wind Orchestra, and encompassing visits to Westminster, Paris, the Middle and Far East and Ireland.

Big Band to the cinema

The second half opened with the recently formed Grenadier Big Band, led by LCpl Beavis with their second item, 'The Chicken', including solos on tenor sax and trumpet. The driving performance of Earth, Wind and Fire's 'September' contrasted with Eric Whitacre's idyllic 'October'. 

Flautist Musn Adam Higginson brought a taste of the Emerald Isle with 'In Ireland', before the chapel resonated to the driving sounds of 'Star Wars'. Some of the best playing of the evening was reserved for 'Jupiter'; from the crisp woodwind ostinatos of the opening through to the sustained sounds of 'I Vow to Thee My Country'. 

The evening closed with the 'CAMUS' march, and 'British Grenadiers', before Major Smith returned to the rostrum to lead a bravura account of 'Bat out of Hell'.

Peter Bale

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Conductor, composer, arranger, tutor and pianist