During the summer season the list of bands performing on Eastbourne Bandstand usually has a familiar ring to it.
But this year, on Sunday, August 11th, a new name will appear, The Royal Corps of Transport Association Concert Band. This will be a name unfamiliar to regular bandstand patrons and even to many local musicians.
So who is the Royal Corps of Transport Association Concert Band?
Formed approximately four years ago, the 35 players are former members of the now disbanded Royal Corps of Transport Band, one of the British Army’s finest. The two August performances will be a nostalgic trip “down memory lane” for almost all the players, many who haven’t performed at Eastbourne for more than thirty years, the last time during their Army service, when the band was a regular and popular attraction.
The history of this veterans’ band goes back to a brief conversation (over a beer) which clarinettist Steve Ambler (the band’s administrator) had with a few like-minded friends in Bavaria, whilst on a trip to Germany with the Bagshot Concert Band, the idea being to contact ex-RCT members with a view to re-forming the disbanded Royal Corps of Transport Band. Following extensive searching of the archives for former members, most scattered around the country and abroad, eventually Steve’s hard work came to fruition, with a positive response and the first re-union rehearsal was arranged. During its short existence the band has performed at Farnham Maltings, The Duke of Cambridge Day (Kneller Hall Military School of Music) and at what has now become an annual event in the Princes Hall, Aldershot, the town which was the home of the RCT Staff Band at Buller Barracks.
The two Sunday programmes for the Eastbourne concerts have been carefully selected with entertainment in mind, and guaranteed to be far removed from the repetitive repertoire which local brass bands tend to offer patrons on a regular basis throughout the summer season. The 35 strong band will be conducted at the 3pm afternoon performance by Roger Balls (former RCT cornet player and Band Sergeant Major, who now has a close connection with Alder Valley Brass), the evening performance directed by Major (retired) David Marshall, a former Director of Music of the RCT, who later held a similar position with the Band of HM Coldstream Guards.
David is no stranger to the brass band scene having conducted bands in the West of England.
So what of the music to be performed? There’s to be American symphonic wind band arrangements from the blockbuster movies “Les Miserables” and “Titanic”, (don’t forget the box of tissues), well-known evergreen medleys associated with Fred Astaire and Hoagy Carmichael. David Marshall’s contribution includes a tribute to the Royal Corps of Transport Band entitled “Waggoners’ Salute” (the band’s corps march is “Wait for the Wagon”), Dickie Dawson (clarinet) will be bringing his bagpipes (not sure about his kilt) for a performance with the band for “Highland Cathedral”, The Basing Corps of Drums (Royal British Legion) will join the band in a spectacular visual and extended musical setting of the popular march “On The Quarter Deck”, there’s a female vocalist, some big band swing, a new “Sousa” march medley and every section of the band will be featured, plus some surprise items along the way which are not to be missed.
Though the majority of the players on stage on August 11th will be making this rare and nostalgic visit to the famous South Coast bandstand, three, however, will be visiting this familiar venue which they could regard as almost “home from home”. LGB Brass members who will be appearing with The Royal Corps of Transport Association Concert Band are Phil Goldsmith (cornet) and Dennis Wilby (Band President), both who served with the band, will be in the cornet section whilst LGB’s Musical Director, Ian Stewart (a former Army Bandmaster) will be playing euphonium as guest for Roger Burke (Musical Director of Alder Valley Brass) who is unavailable.
It’s going to be a nostalgic August 11th, 2013, when many happy memories will be recalled. Let’s hope the weather is kind and the appearance of The Royal Corps of Transport Association Concert Band on Eastbourne Bandstand attracts a large audience.