Reunion 2013
by Jem Tugwood
October 12/13

Hi Dickie,

Thought I'd write a report of the Reunion which may be of interest to those who were unable to be there. This year we (Pam and I) brought her father who has a fondness for the Royal Marines Band having been to several of the Christmas concerts in Worthing and also a visit to the Mountbatten Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall some years ago. Anyway, we duly reported to security at the main gate of HMS Nelson and made our way to the Senior Rates Mess, we were given a tot of Rum and a glass of Champagne for the ladies.

At 2000hrs we had made our way to the Gym in order to witness a display by the Junior band and we were not disappointed, this year they returned to basics part of which I believe may be because the "bar was raised so high" 2 years ago (if my memory is correct) than to try to better the performance would have been very, very difficult to do and so this year the band performed a "Beat Retreat" and, what a display it was. The sound was brilliant, the selection of marches was excellent and the drum routine was absolutely fabulous, how those buglers manage to perfect such a difficult and spectacular routine absolutely baffles me but without doubt they are the reason why the Band of the Royal Marines is the best in the world because, not only are we renowned for our musical excellence but the expertise of the corps of drums puts the finishing touches to the complete awesome spectacle.

I noted there appeared to be an extra piece following the march The Captain General, a piece which I remember playing a few times many year ago, but not printed in the programme it was, the film music "Things to come" by Sir Arthur Bliss a brilliant piece with massive rich chords and syncopation making it very futuristic for it's time. The evening hymn Sunset and Rule Britannia once again brought a tear to a few eyes but isn't that what is all about? The Beat Retreat was under the direction of WO2 Bandmaster Freddie Lomas who had every reason to feel very proud of the musicians under his baton and, not forgetting the Drum Major who upheld the long standing tradition of being absolutely perfect just like all those before him and those to come after him, not forgetting the members of the band whose performance was second to none.

Col Grace gave an extremely informative speech following the display and informed us that some of the Musicians in the band had only been in the service a year, and 15 weeks of that involved crawling through flooded tunnels, and digging trenches etc on Dartmoor and learning how to support the Royal Marines currently deployed in Afghanistan.

On completion we repaired to the mess where we were treated to a member of the band singing the songs of Sinatra and other well known artistes while we met up with friends and acquaintances whilst downing a few pints, some whom we hadn't met for many years. A little later we were again treated to a jazz band both modern and Trad. so something for everyone, and, I guess for those who were interested in that kind of music had probably played the same tunes in days long gone, I know I did.

An excellent curry was organised for us so at this point I would like the thank the whole committee for organising what was once again a wonderful reunion.

The following morning we made our way to the Cathedral in Old Portsmouth to join in the Memorial Day Service and prior to the service actually starting we were able to listen to some beautiful music played by the orchestra under the direction of Col Grace. The first piece was Chanson de Nuit by Elgar a piece we have all played many times and I for one remember playing it in the dining room on Sundays on the Royal Yacht under the direction of Col Jim Mason, the second piece was called Elegy from the Downland Suite by Ireland, not a piece I was familiar but an excellent choice for such a service. The final piece was the Lento Tranquillo by ex Royal Marines Musician George Lloyd from his Symphony No 4, this was another piece which I was unfamiliar with but is now on my list to purchase, an extremely challenging piece especially for the strings where they were initially very exposed, but they took it in their stride, (I didn't know Violins had notes that high!!!) later in the piece we heard great lush chords by the brass as the piece progressed in all, truly a very memorable piece which was performed magnificently by the orchestra, thank you everyone.

The service was carefully planned for what it was, a Memorial Day Service, but I think the first hymn caught a few of us out because some of the lines were repeated and didn't seem to fit in with the music but we soon got the hang of it. I must mention the Choir they were truly magnificent, especially in the piece for Choir and Orchestra Mascagni's Easter Hymn from Cavalleria Rusticana the best I've ever heard them and the solo Soprano excelled. The service ended with the Dr Gordon Jacob arrangement of the National Anthem which, when the fanfare Trumpets enter always makes the hairs on the back of the neck stand up, I recall there was talk some time ago about changing the National Anthem but I certainly hope that's kicked into touch and who could ever not like it? We made our way out to the Triumphant March from Aida which was the signal that to end our reunion a couple in the RMA at Eastney would be the final touch to it before making our way home.

All in all another very successful reunion which I believe was attended by 150+ thanks to all who had a hand in making the event so special and memorable, see ya'll next year.


Photo Album

The lovely Pauline and the lovely Derek
Let's count how many corps crests there are in this pic'

Courtesy of Derek Usher

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