My Life in the Royal Marines Band Service - Circa 1947-1968

by Michael G. Hutton

Ken Morrison and myself were the two Euph & Cello's, Dennis Brown and Terry Freestone Solo Cornets, Fred Matthias Trombone, Albert Hall Basses, Ron Rowson and Len Green were Violin & Cornet, Jim Robertson and Ben Finney were Clarinet and Viola or Violin and lovely George Sockemto as far as I remember was a Trumpet player and joined us as a foreign student from Indonesia.

We all became great friends during that year, not only working together and helping each other in the theory rooms and on the conducting rostrum, but also in the Sgts Mess at the many functions that were going on during that incredible twelve months.

I got back into the hockey and cricket scene playing for the Depot and RM Corps sides at hockey and organizing and Captaining the Sgts Mess cricket team for the next few years when serving in Deal. Rhoda was great during the summer cricket season as she and many of the wives came with us on away matches plus supporting home games, she even kept score on the odd occasion.

Our principal teacher that year was Professor Ernest Stride a man of many musical talents who had taken over the post after Michael Hurd had decided to move on to other things after 5 years in the job. Michael had been in the chair when I took the Cpls & Sgts courses and I had also gone to him for private tuition during that period. However I got on very well with Ernie Stride and certainly learned a great deal from him. He was also the organist in the Barracks Church St Michaels and during the year I played 'Cello' in his small Kent Orchestra performing oratorios in many of the Kent and Sussex churches. One particular performance was memorable in Charing Village Church near Canterbury. We were doing a performance of Saul by Handel with the local choral society and it was found that the church organ was a semitone flat to concert pitch so Ernie in his inimitable way simply transposed the whole work up a semitone! What an amazing feat!

As well as concentrating on our studies most of us were involved in other musical duties such as playing in the orchestra especially when one of our batch was the conductor at the winter concerts, or rehearsing one of our arrangements or compositions. Colonel Dunn frequently invited eminent musical artistes from London to perform at those concerts. We all had the opportunity to meet and work with well known musicians such as Robert Farnon and Malcolm Arnold who liked to come and try out some of their compositions before they were published. I particularly remember Malcolm Arnold bringing his Scottish Dances to Deal for us to play before they were to be premiered at the Proms.

Eric Fenby a professor at the RAM was a frequent visitor and with Maurice Miles they would appear later in the year for our examinations. Instrumentalists Alfredo Campoli violinist, Eileen Joyce pianist and Harry Mortimer a trumpet virtuoso were some of the invited guest performers along with some very talented young players from the London Music Colleges.

As Musical Advisor to the Royal Marines Sir Malcolm Sargeant was also a frequent visitor and being a close friend of both Vivian and Lord Louis Mountbatten he spent many relaxing weekends at the school. Later both he and Maurice Miles would be my inspiration when at the Royal Academy of Music along with the great English 'cellist Cedric Sharpe.

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