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.
After returning from Germany it was a quick turnaround as we were off to the home of military music, Kneller Hall. We were there to do the Slow March Competition for a new Corps slow march. We spent the morning practising. It took a bit of time for us, a light paced band, to get used to slow marching again. There was a lot of wobbling but we got there eventually.
The winning march was composed by Warrant Officer Class One (Bandmaster) Greg Machin who currently works at HQ Army Music at Kneller Hall. We also had four boys join us for ‘Insight Course’ work experience, to see if they wanted to join the Corps of Army Music. They did everything we did, from playing in full band to a fun yet intense PT session. They also got to look around the Kneller Hall museum and get instrumental lessons from the professors.
It never rains on the Parade!
On the Wednesday night the Army Big Band were performing inside camp, a big event open to civilians. They had been practising all week; however it looked like it was going to rain on the open air concert. We were told that the wet weather plan was that The Band of The Rifles was to go out and play as we didn’t have electrics to get wet! Luckily the rain clouds stayed away and the concert went ahead. Our woodwind quintet played on the commandant’s lawn to entertain pre-concert and then the Army Big Band wowed for the rest of the night.
While we were in London we played at the Royal Hospital Chelsea for an annual engagement for Rifles officers. As we were doing the Sounding Retreat we could see the pensioners looking out of their windows and coming down to the garden to enjoy the display.
The next day we returned to Winchester barracks and performed at a TA Pass Off Parade. It was the last day the ‘Insight Course’ students were with us and so they joined us on the parade. They coped very well but looked very confused as the heavens opened on us and we didn’t move. I don’t think they were expecting us to stay out in the rain and finish the parade!
And the Band played on…
On Sunday we travelled to Aldershot to play at the Army Catering Corps church service. It was a nice service and was concluded with a short march. We did the same again the following week for the Royal Army Service Corps/Royal Corps of Transport Associations. Both of these were marched at heavy pace, something we’re not to use to doing!
Between the 2 jobs we travelled to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire the first day at the National Memorial Arboretum was brilliant sunshine as we played for a memorial service. HRH The Prince of Wales, Prince Charles, was attending, he socialised with the guests in a marquee where we were playing. He even came over to speak to the band! The next day we did another memorial service. This day was not so nice, with the ground boggy and the rain still falling. Unfortunately for the brass players they had to go out in it, but for us woodwind players we couldn’t as it would have ruined our instruments!
Back in Winchester it was The Royal Green Jackets association weekend and we did a short remembrance service for them, followed by a march around. It’s nice to see how proud the men are of their former regiments, and also of their new amalgamated regiment, The Rifles. After this we performed a Sounding Retreat.
The Cheltenham College Cricket Festival was our next engagement. Unfortunately this was a wash out, but we still played for guests in the Army Benevolent Fund VIP marquee. The Bandmaster was conducting this and had the audience laughing along to his bad jokes!
Freedom of Salamanca
The brass group have been away in Salamanca, Spain. They were there with a few buglers to play for the Freedom of Salamanca. Apparently they worked hard, but the rest of the Band and Bugles, left in wet and cold England, might dispute this!
The Saturday after Royal Green Jackets weekend we played for the ATR(W) Officers’ Mess Summer Party. It was marching band but as we didn’t have a lot of room so we played mainly statics. The Officers and their guests seemed to really enjoy the comical version of ‘The Huntsman’, played by Lance Corporal Duncombe, Musician Marsden and Musician May. They used a variety of instruments, including post horns, a watering can and a toilet!
Royal Albert Hall
This week we’ve been doing rehearsals in preparation for our Swift and Bold concert in the Royal Albert Hall on the 18th October. This is a big event celebrating 200 years of Rifles history and supporting Care for Casualties, a Rifles appeal helping injured soldiers, their families and the families of the fallen. There will be nearly 300 musicians including: our band; two TA Rifles bands; two cadet bands; the Pipes of the Brigade of Gurkhas; the Rifles’ Fijian Choir; and the famous tenor, Wynne Evans. The night will be hosted by ex-war correspondent, Alistair Stewart. This week we’ve only had the two TA bands and the Pipes to rehearse with, however it’s been very productive. Our big finale piece is ‘Peninsula’, composed by Ian McElligott, a former Director of Music of The Light Division and we’ve been luckily enough to have him take a rehearsal. He got into all the little details of the piece and it’s improved dramatically.
Our last job before leave was a ‘Pass Off’ Parade at Army Training Centre Pirbright. This was an early morning start for us and then a rehearsal once we got there. The parade went really well and we got a good cheer at the end from the families and friends.