27 September 2017

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The Symphonic Brass Ensemble of the Central Band of the RAF return to Regent Hall, London.

On Friday 22nd September the Symphonic Brass Ensemble of the Central Band of the RAF, under the shared direction of Principal Director of Music; Wing Commander Piers Morrell, Bandmaster; Warrant Officer Terry Gardner, and Brass Leader; Chief Technician John Truscott, made a welcome return to the wonderful Regent Hall to deliver a spectacular lunchtime concert right in the very heart of London.

Following the success and popularity of last year’s event, the RAF musicians embarked on an ambitious and varied programme featuring everything from something old to something new, something borrowed and, of course, plenty of RAF blue.

CT Truscott opened proceedings with Salvationist Bramwell Cole’s much loved march; Under Two Flags, in a fitting salute to the many members of the Salvation Army who have served in the armed forces. This lively march proved a popular choice amongst the audience, as it featured a number of well-known national airs, namely Rule Britannia, Men of Harlech, Bluebells of Scotland and God Save the Queen.

This was dramatically followed by Sibelius’ tempestuous and triumphant tonal poem: Finlandia, under the baton of WO Terry Gardner. The performance of this popular nationalist work also proved to be a timely one, as the Scandinavian nation marks one hundred years of independence this coming December.

Following this, the event also featured two fine soloists. The first of which, Senior Aircraftman Joseph Whelan (percussion) entertained the audience with the light-hearted and virtuosic Golden Age of Xylophone while Corporal Andrew Lofthouse (cornet) presented a poignant rendition of Craig Woodland’s stunning setting of Leonard Ballatine’s Don’t Doubt Him Now.

Regent Hall Symphonic Brass RAF Central Band

The ensemble’s next two offerings, led by Wg Cdr Morrell, featured a set of variations on two well known, but very different themes and both written in wholly different circumstances. The first of which, originally written for piano duet during the Nazi occupation of East Europe, was a striking re-imagination Paganini’s Caprice no.24, from the pen of Polish composer Witold Lutoslawski while the second was characterised by a set of light-hearted variations on Amazing Grace, written in 1990 by American composer Anthony Plog. Despite their differences, both works proved to be a welcome challenge, ably met by the RAF musicians.

Regent Hall Symphonic Brass RAF Central Band

With WO Gardner returning to the stage, the main body of the programme drew to a truly epic close with Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral from Wagner’s Opera Lohengrin. With calls for an encore growing, there was just time for one final thank you by WO Gardner on behalf of the RAF Music Service’s, before ending with J.S. Bach’s Toccata in D minor. In short, another fantastic performance by the Symphonic Brass Ensemble of the Central Band of the RAF.

A special thanks as always for the warm reception of the Salvation Army to the musicians of the RAF.

For more information on where RAF Music will next be appearing, please visit our Public Events Diary at

SAC G Bailey.

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