Paul Johnson is a musician in the Band of the Irish Guards based at Wellington Barracks in central London. The Irish Guards band is one of the five foot Guards’ bands that form the Household Division.
Firstly, I would like to wish everyone a Happy New Year! A year that is going to be very busy and eventful for those within the Household Division Bands, with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, Trooping the Colour, Household Division Beating Retreat and the Olympics to name but a few!
A New Year opens a new opportunity for the Household Division Bands and in particular the Irish Guards Band who are now on the Army Blog (this being my first one of hopefully many), and the band going live on Twitter: @IrishGuardsBand.
One of the first gigs of 2012 was to take part in the ‘dine out’ of our now old (he has retired from the Army) Director of the Corps of Army Music (CAMUS). The Band of the Irish Guards was asked to provide a marching display, a ten-piece brass ensemble and a fanfare team for this memorable occasion.
On a particularly cold evening on the 13th January at 7.20pm, feeling colder than a shaved husky and wondering whether our instruments might fix themselves permanently to our chops, the band marched from complete darkness on to a flood lit parade square at Kneller Hall, Twickenham, the Home of Army Music for over 150 years, playing a rousing march. The band played pieces including 76 trombones (minus 71 we only have 5 trombones in our band), whilst performing some rather complex marching routines.
During the Dinner the Irish Guards Band ten-piece brass ensemble were asked to provide background music (easier said than done with ten very eager brass players). Pieces included a transcribed version of Florentiner March with a difference, Maleguena and the trombone feature So Nice to Come Home To.
The normal custom at the end of the meal is for the band to provide after dinner entertainment. As this was a special event, the band decided to do it a little different by having guest soloists come in. Musician Brendan Wheeler (HC&C Band) performed a euphonium solo called ‘Neath Dublin skies, Lance Corporal Rachel Smith (Coldstream Gds) performed a flute solo Fantasia by Faure and a lone piper from 19 Regt RA performed Highland Cathedral.
As this was a very special occasion a fanfare, which included snippets of the Commandant’s career to date, was written and dedicated by the School Bandmaster WO1 Frost. This included a special solo item by the Commandant himself of playing the triangle at important moments in the piece (something the commandant undertook with his uttermost musical professionalism of an officer from the Military Police).