HITTING NEW HEIGHTS - Glenn Van Looy talks exclusively to British Bandsman

Issue 5977

FRANKLY SPEAKING - The first of a new series by Frank Renton, this month focusing on musical education

THE GREAT TRIUMVIRATE - Tim Mutum looks at the life and times of John Gladney 

A decade of progress for the RMACB

Thursday 23 February, 2017

A decade of progress for the RMACB

This is the Royal Marines Association Concert Band’s (RMACB) tenth anniversary year and the band has exciting times ahead! It was formed in June 2006 by its Chairman, Major Paddy Dunn RM (retd) MBE and Captain Ted Whealing RM (retd) MVO BA ARAM ARCM LTCL. The band’s initial complement was 35 musicians - most being former members of the Royal Marines Band Service. It grew quickly and soon had a membership of over 50 players, collectively boasting a total of 1,800 years as seasoned performers! They rehearse weekly in the Mountbatten Room, RM Museum, Eastney, Portsmouth, in what is arguably the world’s finest bandroom, and give approximately 15 concerts a year in support of Royal Marines Charities. As the name suggests, the RMACB is part of the Royal Marines Association, which supports serving and former Royal Marines and their families.

Since the band was created in 2006, it has worked its way through to its third Director of Music, Major Tony Smallwood RM (retd) MA(Dist) PGDip(Adv) BMus(Hons) LRSM. The first Director of Music, Ted Whealing, helped to mould the shape and direction of the band, and Captain David Cole RM (retd) MVO MMus ARAM, who was the very last Royal Marines Director of Music of the Royal Yacht Britannia, helped the group grow further with his creativity and flair before Tony Smallwood took over the baton and built on the work of his predecessors. The band has gone from strength to strength and now enjoys an excellent reputation for producing and performing top-class music.

Last June, the Concert Band was extremely privileged to perform with one of the world’s finest instrumentalists and renowned jazz greats, James Morrison, otherwise known as the ‘Wizard of Oz’. World-class music was enjoyed by all who attended the Assembly Hall in Worthing that evening! Straight after jumping off the plane from Sydney, he played several different instruments with consummate ease and was then joined by his two sons, William and Harry, on stage as they performed magnificently as a jazz trio. This was a breathtaking blend of lyricism, agility and sheer musical fireworks!

In addition to the Concert Band, there is also an array of ensembles: Brass Quintet, String Quartet, Dance Band and Jazz Band. These have made many notable performances including participating in London’s celebrations for the 350th Royal Marines Corps Birthday at London's Guildhall. The Brass Quintet played in the Great Hall, a saxophone quartet and solo tenor saxophone performed in the Crypt, and a seven-piece traditional jazz band dazzled in the Library. This combination worked magnificently and was very well received.

This second half of the anniversary year will be a period of change and improvement as the RMACB strives to become better than ever. Recruitment is high on the agenda and the band is hoping to increase its numbers with talented musicians, both former Royal Marines and others. Anyone who would like to become a RMACB musician and can commit to one rehearsal evening per week and 15 concerts a year, should get in touch via the website. The band’s musicians all have a deep passion for music and that enthusiasm comes across in its performances. 

A new CD celebrating the ten-year milestone is ready to be released in the coming months and will look back on the fantastic music created since 2006. The band has previously produced six recordings of popular, military and classical music, its audience’s favourites ranging from medleys of ABBA, The Beatles and James Bond to grand works such as Resplendent Glory by Galante. Of course, a spot of flag-waving goes down a treat and Land of Hope and Glory is always a crowd-pleaser! 

The RMACB members strongly believe that the music they play should appeal to all ages and tastes, and band and Committee have been working hard during this year to increase its following. The group performs predominantly in the south of England, mainly due to financial reasons of accommodation and transport. However, it has ventured overseas to Malta and Spain in previous years. In Malta, it was welcomed with open arms by the Maltese people and their President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, spending two weeks performing in various locations around the island, including the Opera House in Valletta. The pinnacle was a ‘meet and greet’ in San Anton Palace with the President and other dignitaries. The band’s adventures in Spain will always be remembered as the only time the RMACB has ever marched, which came as a shock to the older members as it was completely unplanned!

As it moves forward into its second decade of playing wonderful music and working with the RMA, the RMACB aims to continue delivering spectacular performances to its faithful and valued audiences, both around the UK and overseas. 

If you would like to know more about the RMACB please look at its website at www.rmacb.org.uk