Lance Corporal Damian Dunphy is a trombonist with the Heavy Cavalry and Cambrai Band (HC&C Band) based in Catterick, North Yorkshire. Prior to joining the HC&C Band on its formation in 2006 he was a member of the King’s Division Waterloo Band, and prior to that the Regimental Band of the Green Howards.
Having served such a length of time in Yorkshire Damian’s roots are well and truly established. He plays for a number of orchestras in the North East in addition to a number of brass bands, he is also the Musical Director of a local brass band and has conducted a number of other bands in the area.
The Band has recently been fostering links with music departments in local universities in order to demonstrate the capabilities of the Corps of Army Music and to assist the music students with workshops. We have been giving lunchtime recitals in Durham Cathedral, York St John University and we have further events with Newcastle University coming up.
The lunchtime recital in Durham Cathedral delighted of audiences young and old, many of whom relished the chance to enjoy a free concert just as they happened to be visiting the Cathedral. A varied programme ranging from Reed’s Festive Overture through to John William’s Star Wars via some varied and stylish repertoire including a fantastic contemplative arrangement of John Lennon’s Imagine ensured the audience enjoyed the event.
The performance at York St John drew a capacity crowd of students. The academic staff remarked admirably on the standard of the Band and how thrilled they were to have such a partnership in place. The concert band performance was followed by a careers presentation and a ten-piece brass ensemble demonstration with an hour-long workshop. It was educating and entertaining at the same time.
At Newcastle University the students provided their own compositions for the Band, who performed them whilst the Bandmaster provided a workshop on composing and arranging for a military band. The experience was clearly quite new for the students who seem generally to have had more experience composing and arranging for orchestral ensembles.
The response from the students from all three universities has already proved to be highly positive with projects planned to link in directly with academic studies. Indeed, in the spring, we will be working with composers and conductors from Newcastle University to select students for performance in front of their peers, very exciting for all involved.
As ever at this time of year the band have been involved with a number of Remembrance events, including a series of concerts arranged in aid of both ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and the Royal British Legion. The concerts have been narrated by Alisdair Hutton, the voice of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, featured vocal soloists, choirs (including the original WAGS Choir, Catterick Garrison), standard bearers, cadets and pipers. The culmination of the concerts was on Saturday 1oth November with a spectacular Festival of Remembrance held in the magnificent splendour of Durham Cathedral. As the last post sounded and the piper played a lament thousands of poppies fell on the Band as the assembled audience and cast sat in dignified silence to honour the fallen.
Bright and early the following morning the Band were en route to Birmingham to take part in the city’s Remembrance parade. This is something of a diary change for the band who normally take part in the parade in nearby York. When we arrived we found that we were to be sharing the musical workload with a local Salvation Army Band and a band from the local Fire and Rescue Services, which gave the band a brief chance to appreciate the musical efforts of others amidst the bright sunshine of this crisp November morning.
Tuesday 13th saw the band travel to Barnsley in South Yorkshire to perform in support of The Light Dragoons who were welcomed to the city following their recent deployment to Afghanistan. A warm Yorkshire welcome was afforded to the Regiment as the temperature of the Band was lifted somewhat negotiating the steep terrain!
With our feet back in our very own North Yorkshire on Wednesday 15th November, the Band took part in the Royal Gun Salute in York to celebrate the birthday of HRH The Prince of Wales. There are six such salutes every year and the Heavy Cavalry and Cambrai Band generally perform at them all whilst in station.
As I write, and with no let up in tempo, we are travelling on a very full bus to Cambrai, France, where we will be participating in a number of remembrance events with The Royal Tank Regiment, one of our affiliated Regiments.