The Band of HM Royal Marines Portsmouth and Chichester Cathedral Choir
Conductor: Captain Ian Davis
Reviewer : Steve Turner
Famed for their versatility, the Royal Marines show this extends well beyond their military prowess and into the realms of entertainment. Conductor, Director of Music and tonight’s compere, Captain Ian Davis, sets the tone early on with some well-chosen quips and soon has a very willing audience under his command. Totally at ease in front of the audience and very clearly in control of the band, his engaging manner keeps the evening flowing along nicely. Even when the choir is late on parade he doesn’t flap but manages to fill in effortlessly.
The music is not restricted to Christmas themes only, the opening series of tunes referencing the centenary of the battle of Jutland remind us that all on stage are Marines first and foremost and, at any time, they could be swapping their instruments for something more deadly. That said this is not sombre music but rather striking and the introduction of four buglers positioned initially in the audience brings it to life expertly.
Also performing is the Chichester Cathedral Choir with renditions of some more classical Christmas part songs, expertly delivered under the direction of Charles Harrison. Backed by some older (and deeper sounding) choristers, the choirboys’ treble voices deliver that most Christmassy of sounds that seem to hang in the air much as it would in a church. Also hanging in the air are some seemingly floating Christmas trees, adorned with gold and lit with changing colours, they provide a glittering backdrop matched by the shine from the boots and buttons of the Marines’ uniforms.
During the evening, the Marines switch instruments transforming from a band into an orchestra with brass players and woodwind sections becoming strings players and still attaining the high standards already reached.
Further evidence of the adaptability required to become a Marine is in evidence throughout the performance as we are treated to some interludes featuring, among others, an elf and some of the most muscular cygnets seen since Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake.
Add in some audience participation in the carol singing, a few festive jokes, some catchphrases and some tongue-in-cheek plugging of the merchandise available from the foyer, the thoroughly entertaining evening rattles along at a good pace.
Runs until 10 December 2016 | Image: Contributed