On the 17th November, St Gregory’s Centre played host to perhaps the most anticipated concert and Masterclass this year, The Royal Engineers Band.
This performance featured sets from the Regiment’s Esteemed Saxophone Quartet and Brass Ensemble. The first group to take to the stage was the four-strong Saxophone ensemble (Dir. Staff Sergeant Joe Barrett) who played popular a repertoire from A Night at the Movies by G. Lightfoot of the Welsh Guards Band. This included a medley of classic film scores, such as Ghostbusters, Benny Hill and Looney tunes amongst others.
The rest of this set was a triumphant concoction of Musical Theatre numbers and 1920’s Jazz from composers such as Gershwin. The final number was yet again a wonderful array of popular tunes, which were portrayed in short snippets, in a piece loosely based on the overture from William Tell. ‘The Lone Ar-Ranger Goes Sax Mad’ features snippets from Rule Britannia, Peter and the Wolf and many more, and was a real treat for the audience.
The Brass Ensemble was next to come – (Dir. Captain Oliver Jeans and Staff Sergeant Joe Barrett) with two wonderful iterations of classic brass repertoire, Galliard Battaglia & Canzon Bergamasque by Scheidt and Three Brass Cats by Christ Hazell. The former of the two pieces was a late 16th century German instrumental work, and featured the ensembles piccolo cornet quite prominently. It was originally written to accompany a dance and exploits the virtuosity of the instrumentalists. The second piece performed by this masterful ensemble was ‘Three Brass Cats’ which features four movements, each of differing tempo and style, and each featuring a different melodic instrument.
The afternoon public masterclass featured Canterbury Christ Church University’s very own Wind and Big Band ensembles playing amongst the army musicians. Each of the ensembles had provided a piece which they had been rehearsing all term to receive coaching on from the army professionals. Toccata for Band was chosen by the Wind band, and Jazz Police was chosen by the Big Band. This masterclass was a wonderful experience for the universities musicians as they got the chance to gain advice and expertise from extremely talented musicians and to take that advice and apply it to their own private practise and ensemble rehearsal time.
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