This weekend I’ve been to see the Royal Air Force in concert; the superb RAF bands.
What an evening! These talented musicians, male and female, play several instruments each, and so obviously enjoy their playing. The band includes woodwind, brass, and percussion. I’ve always been a sucker for drums, and there were so many: kettle drums, side drums, bass drum, a huge gong, and a dance-band-type drum kit. What a wonderful noise! Far more brass, of course, than in the average orchestra, and all these different instruments together producing a marvellous sound.
But then the soloist performers: a haunting flautist – Libby; a violinist whose instrument seemed to speak – Claire; a xylophonist – Jim, who had four different xylophones, and was accomplished master of all of them.
And then the RAF Squadronaires, today’s equivalent of the war-time Squadronaires founded in 1939. Five saxophones, four trombones, five trumpets, a guitar, a keyboard, and the drums, and four glorious jazz pieces that really got the feet tapping. A first this year, I think, in having two women among their number.
For the final section, Wing Commander Stuart Stirling, the RAF’s Principal Director of Music, led the entire band in a “Proms Finale”, which included “Sailing”, the “Hornpipe”, “Rule Britannia”, “Land of Hope and Glory” and the “Royal Air Force March Past”.
As every year when the Band comes, local Air Cadets were selling small waving Union Flags in aid of RAF charities. So, when we got to “Land of Hope and Glory”, the entire theatre was standing, waving flags and singing.
There are still patriots around, who are not afraid of upsetting the PC anti-nationalistic lobby, at least in this audience, many of whom were elderly gentlemen proudly wearing their RAF ties and blazers. It does the heart good.