The band of HM Royal Marines of Scotland brought everything you could hope to expect from Her Majesty’s own service to their Salford concert this month – and gave students the chance to perform with them and even take the conductor’s baton.
The wind orchestra, which includes a Salford University graduate and has other links with the university, made it a special day for current music students as well as for the audience.
Variety was the main focus of the astounding night which had an emphatic and energetic feel.
Among classic pieces, the band played a lot of recognisable film tracks such as the Star Wars and Rocky theme tunes. More contemporary classical pieces were also played. For example, wind band music from composer Samuel Hazo was included in the setlist.
The film themes the band played were a taster of their show ‘Lights, Camera, Action!’ for a home show in Fife, Scotland, a few days later.
One of the main highlights of the setlist was a piece which aimed to recreate the busy and stressful city life in London called New London Pictures by Nigel Hess. A man with a large sign behind the band intermittently appearing and shouting ‘stop!’ and ‘go!’ brought some unexpected humour to the night.
Alongside the suited-up Marines, 14 Salford students played with the band and fitted in seamlessly. After recently winning the university brass band championships known as UniBrass a couple of weeks ago, the skilled students once again proved their talents.
Three of the students also got the chance to conduct the band which they made look easy.
Director of Music Major Steve Green RM confidently conducted the band throughout the concert.
He said in anticipation of the night: “Tonight is a recruiting and awareness visit to show music students around the country there’s another opportunity for them in being a professional musician.
“So many young musicians study very hard to get to a great level on their instruments and there just isn’t that many jobs in the civilian market to cope with people finishing university. So, it’s about showing them there’s an opportunity to have a career as long or as short as they wish in military music.”
Lieutenant Tom Griffin RM, who is due to take over Steve Green’s job as conductor in July, said: “I’ve always loved gigging and doing these sort of things. Whether it’s for recruiting or for a massive sell-out audience at the Royal Albert Hall in London, what we always give is our best.”
As a whole, the band played incredibly and filled the room with bright and astounding melodies.
Each individual member played in synchronisation with each other and consistently throughout the entire evening.
Even outside of the band’s cohesive harmony, the band members particularly got to shine in the multiple solo pieces.
In the short opera segment, awe-inspiring vocals completely filled the room.
The corps of drums were particularly hypnotising to watch. The drummers’ unwavering facial expressions and perfectly timed drum beating and marching made their short but intriguing performance very memorable.
With the performance taking place four days after famous film soundtrack composer John Williams’ 88th birthday, the band played three of his songs in his honour.
Major Steve Green light-heartedly quipped in between conducting pieces which created a very friendly atmosphere. Humorously, he noted how strange it felt to call his old bandmate Richard Harvey ‘professor’ who is now a lecturer in music at Salford University.
The band finished with the iconic The Ecstasy of Gold from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly which made for a triumphant and awe-inspiring finish to a great show.
This was not only thoroughly enjoyable but also a huge achievement for the Salford students.
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