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Central Band of the Royal Air Force

American Legends
Conductor: Wing Commander Piers Morrell
Featuring: Sarah Francis and Cpl Matt Walker
Cliffs Pavilion
Friday 1st December

The Central Band of the Royal Air Force, directed by Wing Commander Piers Morrell, paid tribute to the United States with 'American Legends'. 

They featured vocalists, Sarah Francis and Corporal Matt Walker, with the compère for the evening, the voice of the National Lottery and Strictly Come Dancing, Alan Dedicoat, who maintained a lively banter with the conductor.

Varied programme

The varied programme incorporated military music, popular favourites and the classics; opening with Copland's 'Hoedown'. 

The playing and balance was first class throughout, with the brass never allowed to overpower the more delicate woodwind textures, whilst original works showcased included Rossano Galante's 'Afterlife', Philip Sparke's 'From Sea to Shining Sea' and the big-band style 'High Voltage' by Thierry Deleruyelle.

The playing and balance was first class throughout, with the brass never allowed to overpower the more delicate woodwind textures, whilst original works showcased included Rossano Galante's 'Afterlife', Philip Sparke's 'From Sea to Shining Sea' and the big-band style 'High Voltage' by Thierry Deleruyelle.


SAC Sabina Heywood won the 2017 RAF Soloist Competition, and excellently performed the 'Allegro' from Weber's 'Concerto for Clarinet No 2'. The band entered wholeheartedly into the fun of Bernstein's 'Slava', complete with contributions from whip and swannee whistle.

Sarah Francis displayed her versatility on such numbers as 'Send in the Clowns' and 'Scarborough Fair' - the latter largely accompanied by solo marimba. She and Matt Walker worked well together, assisted by fine arrangements incorporating a range of styles. Selections came from popular music included a 'Motown Medley' and a 'Space Oddity Medley', whilst individual tributes were paid to Barbra Streisand, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra with 'Don't Rain on my Parade', 'I Left my Heart in San Francisco' and 'New York, New York!'

Service veterans

'Band of Brothers' and 'Hymn to the Fallen' acknowledged service veterans, whilst martial music included 'Hands across the Sea' and 'Holyrood', which was linked to the 'United States Air Force Song'. There was also a sparkling rendition of 'Star and Stripes Forever' from the band's four trombone players.

The concert closed with 'Pomp and Circumstance March No 1' and the 'RAF March Past', although there was time for a light-hearted encore as clarinet and soprano sax the protagonists in 'Duelling Banjos'.

Peter Bale

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