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Band of the Scots Guards

Burns Night Celebration
Conductor: Major Ian Johnson
Guards Chapel
Friday 25th January


The Band of the Scots Guards, directed by the affable Major Ian Johnson, presented this Burns Night Celebration in the wonderful setting of the Guards Chapel.

Major Johnson was ably assisted by two comperes all the way from Scotland in Donna Manuel and the kilted LSgt Paul Findley, and although there may have not been a bagpipe to be heard, but there was the chance to partake of a nice single malt dram in the interval. 

The Glaswegian

After the opening National Anthem it was good to be reminded of Jimmy Howe's 'The Glaswegian', played from march cards dating back over 40 years. 

Peter Graham's 'Alloway Tales' set three of Robert Burns' poems, 'Duncan Gray', 'Afton Water' and 'The Deil's Awa Wi' Th' Exciseman' (Burns having worked for the dreaded tax man at one point), although due to some balance issues the words did not always come across, especially in the spirited finale.

Musn Dan Fox was the fine cornet soloist in 'My Love is like a Red, Red Rose', with oboe and French horn particularly prominent, whilst Musn Matt Dixon moved from tuba to piano for James Horner's 'For the Love of a Princess', subtly accompanied by the band with the heavy brass reserved for the climaxes.

Highlight

The musical highlight came with Malcolm Arnold's 'Four Scottish Dances' in an arrangement that stayed close to the original; from the strident horns of the opening, the ‘drunken’ bassoonist in the reel and lush sounds in 'Summer's Day in the Hebrides', with the keyboard effectively covering the harp part.

The 'Highland Fling' finale made much of the contrast between woodwind and brass.

The musical highlight came with Malcolm Arnold's 'Four Scottish Dances' in an arrangement that stayed close to the original; from the strident horns of the opening, the ‘drunken’ bassoonist in the reel and lush sounds in 'Summer's Day in the Hebrides', with the keyboard effectively covering the harp part. 

Drysdale's 'Tam O'Shanter' seemed a touch tame for the racy content of the poem although the setting of 'Comin' thru the Rye' for saxophone quintet was much more effective, with some lovely fruity sounds from the baritone.

'Loch Lomond' took the theme through various moods, also including references to 'The Skye Boat Song' before the vocal trio 'Wild Mountain Thyme'.

The remainder of the second half was in the hands of an excellent ceilidh band that soon had their listeners clapping away - a less formal setting surely would have had the audience on their feet.

An enjoyable celtic evening ended in traditional fashion with the Regimental March, 'Heilan' Laddie', a Burns Toast and 'Auld Lang Syne'.

Peter Bale

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