Musician Emma Peacock plays flute and piccolo in The Band and Bugles of The Rifles. She has been in the band for a year and a half, having completing Phase 1 training at ATR Pirbright and Phase 2 at The Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall.
Wow, what a month! Summer season has definitely started for us! Our Director of Music, Major Sale has returned from a nine month Intermediate Command Staff Course and is now very keen and wants lots of full band rehearsals. It is good though as we’re getting harder music out and the Bandmaster’s getting a bit of a rest. His first week back we had a Pass Off Parade at Pirbright, not too different from any others however the Director of music took it and the Assistant Bugle Major led us.
The new Director of The Corps of Army Music visited us recently and listened to what the band could do, with and without bugles; I think he enjoyed his visit. It was an informative visit for us as we were told about his plans and predictions for the corps.
We’ve also been keeping on top of our fitness, as we’ve just done the bi-annual PFA (personal fitness assessment of press ups, sit ups and a 2.4km run). This went well and we’re glad that’s it’s passed for another 6 months!
Then we were off to Northern Ireland. This was a very early start and seven hours later we arrived on the camp. Once we’d settled into the accommodation we were out again as we had a job that evening at Castle Ward, a National Trust house and grounds. This was the first time our new ‘Sounding Retreat’ display was revealed and I think it went down well! There were a few disasters in the percussion section though, with one of the bass drum beaters snapping and the head flying to the back of the band and the side drum stick splitting! Both percussionists coped very well.
The next day was 2 Rifles Medals parade. There was a rehearsal in the morning and it was absolutely freezing. The locals were used to it, but we weren’t. Luckily for us the icy wind had died down a bit for the real parade. The Inspecting office was HRH The Earl of Wessex and he and others handed out the medals to the well deserving soldiers. It was such a sight to see the whole battalion doubling past at the end and then to see them meet with their families and friends. Later that day we travelled to Lisburn for another ‘Sounding Retreat’. We played with a piper and were part of a whole evening of entertainment for the audience.
Our best buglers
On our last day inNorthern Irelandwe did a couple of community engagement jobs as we visited and played at two local schools. The primary school kids were very excited to hear the band, and thankfully we only took four of our best buglers otherwise they might have been a little blown away! The kids learnt a little about our regimental history and various bugle calls and they looked adorable in our hats.
We weren’t back in Winchester long before we all hopped on a bus and made the journey across the border to Wales for the Llanelli Proms. Alongside us there were the Massed Voices of The Hywel Girls’ Choir and Hywel Boy Singers, The Llanelli Choral Society, The Dunvant Male Choir and the Soprano, Gweneth-Ann Jeffers. All together there were around 250 people performing. This massed performance certainly engaged the audience as at the end they were waving flags and shouting “MORE!”
Inspecting the performance
This week we’ve been preparing for the Colonel Commandant’s Annual Inspection. This is a big deal for us and a lot of time has gone into perfecting the marching band display, with many hours spent on the parade square. We’ve also been getting the block and surrounding areas clean and tidy and many other things behind the scenes. It was sizzling hot on the day of the inspection! The buglers played a fanfare as Commander Land Forces General Sir Nick Parker arrived and then we were posing for a group photo. First we were on the square, presenting the General with our new ‘Sounding Retreat’. He seemed to like it but there were a few things he wanted us to change in the future. Then we performed a few pieces that are possibilities for the “Swift and Bold” concert being held in October in The Royal Albert Hall. Composer Ian McElligott also joined us to hear how his piece, ‘Peninsula’ is sounding. After this we all headed down to the Band and Bugles Bar for a curry lunch and the General rang the bell so drinks were on him!