21st All Stars Band Concert
Photo Album
Report - by 'Pip' Baily
Some of the over 70's.Conducted by Captain David Cole, 110 musicians gathered at Margate Winter Gardens on 14th March 2010 for the 21st annual "All Stars Band" concert. Formed almost entirely of former Royal Marines musicians, with a few civilians and members of other forces in tow, the roof got raised yet again by this fund raising extravaganza, born out of the tragedy of September 1989, when Deal barracks was bombed, taking the lives of 11 young and talented musicians.

On stage were 8 octogenarians, 24 septuagenarians, some who have stayed the course over the entire life of the band, and those who can only make it occasionally. If you laid all the musicians ages end to end back in time, it would stretch back to 5625 BC, in the Neolithic period. Musicians From Holland, Malta and France were there. Newcomers this year were Gerry Salway on clarinet and Russ Blyth on trumpet. The guest conductor from Japan, Kenji Kawashima took the band smoothly, and without music, through Sousa's Hands Across The Sea march and an old favourite, the Poet and Peasant overture by Franz von Suppé, better known as a favourite 'Tom and Jerry' soundtrack. Kenji actually applied to join the RM band service, and on being informed that he must be British to join the British armed forces created his own band in Japan in 1965, which is still going. He is an expert on military music and the Royal Marines bands in particular. His lovely family sat in the front row.

Click to view programmeThe concert opened with the national anthem; played twice! Once by the woodwind and once by the brass who finished two beats later. It was a close run thing and an item that will be talked about for many a year. *[an observation and comment with reference to the anthem can be read by clicking this text]

Every bass player's nightmare opened the programme proper, with Holst's folksy second suite for military band and its notorious five opening solo semi quavers. After cracking through that and a marvelous arrangement of the theme from Out of Africa, a triplet of trumpets tooted Three Jolly Sailor Men – masterful triple tonguing. Staying at sea, the French horn’s 'Warship' set sail bringing back memories of recording studios, and take after take for the TV series to lots of the band members. Les Miserables, slated by the critics as a flop and still running 25 years later, brought us swiftly to shore in France, where we ended up dancing to Farnon's fabulous Westminster Waltz 'avec les belles dames'.

Reaching across the Atlantic came John Philip Sousa's Hands Across The Sea, and back again to Austria for Franz von Suppe's Poet and Peasant overture, conducted, as mentioned before, by our special guest Kenji Kawashima. As Tom chased Jerry on to the seafront, the band took a well earned 'stand easy', and the audience, an interval. Incidentally, John Philip Sousa came from the Pennsylvania Dutchland area in America.

After the interval, the musical journey continued in France with the thrilling and rarely played Arromanches march opening the second half. Leroy Anderson got a little Latin sunshine twinkling across the stage with the Serenata rhumba, giving ample time for Dave White to get the Xylophone down for his Rushin’ Sticks. Then, David Cole's sparkling arrangement The Best Of The Beatles selection showed how professional the band can sound, with John Yates playing the riveting piccolo trumpet obbligato to Penny Lane' and Keith Davies immediately following on with The Long and Winding Road. A motley crew filed down to the front of the stage to give a rollicking rendition of the trad jazz numbers from High Society, featuring a fabulous clarinet solo by Pete Rose amongst others. (Did you say a tenner, Pete?)

John Williams wrote Summon The Heroes' in celebration of the centennial of the Modern Olympic Games, and it has been stirring hearts ever since. Used in the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall to introduce the troops who have served in our modern conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, it brought memories of the sacrifices in recent conflicts. Next Nimrod', heard so often at the Cenotaph, reminded us of our own losses, this time in a new arrangement by Moerenhout.

After the Battle of Britain march by Ron Goodwin, it was time for the finale, and Jo Burn from BBC Radio Kent took the microphone to narrate The Battle of Trafalgar, by Albert Elms who died the previous October. Elms joined the RM band service before WWII, and went on to become a composer of much music for both big and small screens. The Prisoner, Man in a Suitcase and Robin Hood were two of his more well-known works. It is said that Paul Neville, who was heard to describe Bert Elms as 'his chum', got him to write an alternative to the 1812 for the Royal Tournament in 1974, and so the Battle of Trafalgar piece was created. All these years later, it still warms the heart, with its clever allusions to Rule Britannia, which eventually volcanoes out of the music towards the end of the piece. In this performance, Bryan 'Billy' Walker's bugle playing in the Last Post was superb. Not a dry eye in the house, and a very suitable finale celebrating one of our greatest admirals and his most famous victory.

He wasn't expecting it, but Kenji Kawashima conducted the regimental marches at the end. Never was a prouder man seen in front of a band!

The point of this concert is to raise money for charity, and as the echoes of A Life On The Ocean Wave faded away, presentations were made to the following charities:

• The Royal Marines Band Benevolent fund – £2500, received by Captain Andy Gregory

• The Deal Memorial Bandstand Trust – £1000

• Help for Heroes – £1000

• Kent Air Ambulance – £1000

• Royal Marines Association, Deal – £1000

• Macmillan Nurses, Leeds – £500

• Fight for Sight – £500.

More will be given after the full figures are known. To date the All Stars Band have donated a total of £172,597 with £81,500 of it going to the Royal Marines Band Benevolent Fund.

The band is ever-conscious that there is a need to recruit new members; those recently retired from the band service are most welcome to join us as is anyone who can proudly boast to be a former musician of the Royal Marines.

The ScurfieldsAfter 21 years unstinting service, Stephen and Pam Misson are handing over the administration of this event to Mike and Jenny Scurfield and his daughter Kerry and her husband Jason, who are wished every success, so a clock with the inscription ‘Time Marches On’ was presented to them for giving so much time over the years. How they managed it for so long is remarkable.

Another great supporter of this concert, Barry Radford (Euphonium) and his wife, Heather, celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary this year. Barry initially said he wouldn't be able to play any more concerts due to ill health but he was so impressed with this year’s concert he has vowed to be there in 2011 if at all possible.

Captain David Cole also conducts the Central Band of the Royal British Legion, who are going to be playing at Margate Winter Gardens on 6th June. It would be great to see as good a turnout to that concert as there was to this one. Tickets are available from the new owners of Cinque Port Music on 01304 827391.

The Deal Memorial Bandstand on Walmer green hosts the Royal Marines band on Sunday 11th July, and the Old Comrades, a smaller version of the All Stars with musicians local to Deal, on Sunday 8th August. The next 'All Stars Band' concert is on the 13th of March 2011.

After the show the 'craic' in the bar, where the public can meet the musicians and they can catch up on things. Lots more conversations starting with 'Do you remember?' and ending with a hearty laugh. And sometimes a lump in the throat. Because after all, they are there to remember.

'Pip' Baily

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