Band of the Royal Regiment of Canada
2012 marks the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Royal Regiment of Canada. To commemorate this anniversary the Band of the Royal Regiment (BRRC) has produced a 2-CD set of recordings tracing the history of the regiment and its band. From Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance Military March No.4 and Holst’s First Suite in E-Flat Major through Gershwin and Ellington to Mancini and The Beatles, this recording spans a broad spectrum of genres in the concert band style. The title track, Saeculum Aureum (Golden Age), was written for the band by Major Paul A. Weston, formerly of the Royal Marines, now Associate Director of Music of the BRRC.
For most aficionados of concert band music, no CD of this sort would be complete without one or more marches reflecting the traditions of the modern band. This set includes two excellent marches with a Canadian connection which are rarely heard. The first is Vimy Ridge, written in 1921 by British composer Thomas Bidgood to commemorate that great battle of April 1917. My father survived that battle, and I have memories of playing a 78rpm version of this march which had been recorded in England during WWII The second, lesser known march is Men of Dieppe. This has an even stronger connection to the regiment. The composer, Stephen H. Michell, was one of several hundred members of the Royals captured and taken prisoner when the regiment stormed the Dieppe beaches. This march was composed during his time in a prison camp.
On a few selections, the band is joined by collaborators from many performances over the years. These include vocalist Danielle Bourré, the Pipes and Drums of the 48th Highlanders and Thomas Fitches at the keyboard of the organ of St. Clement’s Anglican Church. All of the numbers on the first CD are recent recordings under the direction of director of music, Captain W. A. Mighton or associate director, Major P. A. Weston. Most of those on the second CD are from the past 50 years conducted by three previous conductors.
For the most part the recording quality is excellent. However, there are a few selections on the second CD, included for historical purposes, where the recording quality is not up to the same standard. One such number is Alford’s Standard of Saint George. In this case the previously unreleased recording has been taken from the sound track of a 16mm film, The Trooping of the Colour, produced in 1962.
For those interested in the origins of the music, combined with the history of the regiment and its bands over the years, the 20-page booklet contains excellent commentary on every selection and historical connections where appropriate. It also includes information on the soloists and guests.
Available from: R Regt C Band, Fort York Armoury 660 Fleet St. W., Toronto, Ontario M5V 1A9 (www.band.rregtc.ca).