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The Band of the Coldstream Guards

Conductors: Major Simon Haw & WO1 Laura Stead
Guards Chapel
London
Friday 30th June

As part of a week-long festival of music marking the centenary of the five Foot Guards bands, the Band of the Coldstream Guards presented this concert of English music. 

Opening with a 'Royal Fanfare' by Sir Arthur Bliss, boldly delivered from the back of the chapel, they continued with 'Fanfare and Soliloquy'; its contrasting styles highlighting the ensemble’s colourful timbres.

Bravery

LSgt Ben Hull and Sgt Helen Betteridge presented 'Saxo Rhapsody' and 'Musica Unversalis' respectively, before CSgt Darren Hardy narrated his own moving poem in Simon Haw's setting of 'Passchendale'; the poignancy of the words reflecting on the bravery of those caught up in the horrors 100 years ago.

Another anniversary was commemorated in Martin Ellerby's 'Elegy', written to honour those who died when a V1 rocket destroyed the Guards Chapel in 1944, when the Coldstream Band was on duty. Musn Hannah Hodgson, one of the youngest members of the band, was the excellent cornet soloist.

Classic frames

Two classics framed the interval: The ‘March’ from the 'Second Suite in F' (Holst) and 'The Horse Guards, Whitehall', familiar as the theme music for BBC radio's 'Down Your Way'. Sgt Rachel Smith was the accomplished soloist in Rodney Newton's Tolkien-inspired 'Song of Luthien': Introduced by WO1 Laura Stead as 'our own elf princess' Rachel's fine interpretation was matched by the accompaniment.

Robert Wiffin's arrangement of Arthur Butterworth's 'The Lads in their Hundreds' preceded LCpl Engelien Coetzer's presentation of 'The Watermill', dedicated to former oboist Tim Rampley, who had died a few days earlier.

Highlight

The stylish playing on an atmospheric reading of Malcolm Arnold's 'English Dances (Set two)' was a real musical highlight. 

The familiar opening featured fine piccolo playing with the horns coming into their own later on, whilst the scoring aided by the excellent ensemble balance made use of bassoon and bass clarinet in cameo features. All sections of the band had their moment in the spotlight, and captured the varying moods of the piece well.

Simon Haw's arrangement of 'Abide With Me' incorporated 'The Last Post', before a fine evening closed with the National Anthem and the Coldstream Regimental March, 'Milanollo'.

Peter Bale



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Conductor and composer