Friday, 8 March 2013

British State Trumpeters: Uniforms - Formations

It was a privilege to meet an outstanding Bagpiper many years ago his name is Bob Murphy. He was forever featured on television-adverts-films-TV series. He has played on the film The English Patient, TV series Edward the King, The Years of Waiting and Til Death Do Us Part to name a few.

When Bob completed his army service with the Gordon Highlanders he formed his own group called the Caledonian Pipers and Dancers, he also formed a brass group to accompany the pipers they were dressed in bearskins and red tunics just like the guards, so with the pipers in Scottish dress kilts n all and the brass group in their red tunics it was a very colourful sight.

Bob and I formed a very happy working relationship which lasted many years; we collaborated on marching displays for hospitality and corporate events and even spent several days in Aviemore Scotland for a car launch. Very popular with Hotel cabarets with the dancers.

During a telephone conversation with Bob I asked him what he was going to do with all those brass uniforms now he had retired. He said ‘sell them’ so there I was ‘buying them’ ending my conversation with 6 bearskins and a huge box of red tunics and black trousers. I got them home took one look at my wife’s face and knew they had to go up into the loft pretty quick and there they stayed for a few years.

Being a former Band Sergeant Major of the Royal Artillery Band I was interested to hear about the change in the Category 4 rules, this meant that band musicians would not be paid above their army pay for private functions – the money would go back to the Ministry of Defense. Now if you know musicians you will know that they are not keen on working overtime for nothing. I realized now that my civilian fanfare team could now get some of this work.

I woke up one morning very early with the bright idea of British State Trumpeters. I could give that military look of bearskins red tunics sashes and swords and not have to pay the Ministry of Defense a penny.

Firstly I had to register the name at Companies House. I thought I might have a problem with the word ‘State’ but it turned out that the word ‘British’ was going to be the problem. To use the word ‘British’ in any company name you have to prove that you are pre-eminent in your field. After writing to several contacts that I have met along the way they kindly wrote letters to the Sensitive Names Department at Companies House stating that I was pre-eminent in this field and worthy of using the word ‘British’ in my new company. Several weeks passed and I received a phone call from the Sensitive Names Department letting me know that I had been granted permission to use the word ‘British’ and there would be a letter in the post to confirm this. I was over the moon. Next came registering the domain names for BST I managed to secure all the important ones .com,, .net and .org.

Thames Fanfare Brass ensemble is now in its 26th year and its website was a bit frayed around the edges and in need of an update. So with the help of Rocketfish and SEO and web Design Company we set off building a new website. I was told this would only take approx 8 weeks, 18 weeks later we were up and running better late than never I guess.

I realized that I would be needing more bearskins as I only had 6. I searched around on e bay and asked some old contacts but there were very few about and the ones that were, were very expensive, so I decided to give Bob a call again and ask him if he had anymore. Luckily for me he had another 6 so I took them and also bought 2 wonderful Wilkinson swords.

I now had all the tunics cleaned and new gold braiding sewn on them. I didn’t want to go with the white belts so I had red sashes made up and designed new banners for the Fanfare Trumpets.

I was in contact with Prestige Promotions and they were organizing a Super Car Rally ‘The Italian Job’ from Chilston Hotel, Kent. I told them I had formed a new Fanfare Group called British State Trumpeters, they liked the idea so they booked two trumpets to start the Rally. This was a great opportunity to get some pictures for publicity.

I decided it would be a good idea to get some video footage of BST to put on you tube, so off I went with my group to play fanfares at various venues. I also thought it would be a good idea to get some new photos of Thames Fanfare Brass; fortunately we had a booking for the F1 Team Lotus end of season gala. This event was a great success and we managed to get some great photos with the F1 Lotus car. Then came the Royal Film Premier of the film The Hobbit, yet again we managed to get some brilliant photos of our Herald Trumpeters at this special event.

The website is now live and looking pretty good, there is lots of pictures and fanfares to listen to, we are now on facebook, twitter and Google +. Fingers crossed we will be getting enquiries and bookings soon. We now need to work even harder than we have been doing over these past months to get the work in. Hopefully in the near future British State Trumpeters will be busy just like its older sibling Thames Fanfare Brass. 

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Christmas Caroling

Brings back happy memories Hark the Herald Angels Sing—trumpet fanfares—descants—brass bands—choirs—decorations—the works.

 I have always enjoyed playing Christmas Carols, it all started when I was about 14 years of age and was a member of the Rowntree's Cocoa Works Band in York. Every year the band played carols for the city's various hospitals and nursing homes. This tradition continued every year until I left the band.
 When I was 20 years of age I joined the Royal Artillery Band in Woolwich, London so for the next 22 years there was always lots of Christmas Concert performances.

 I became player/manager of the world renown brass group The Wallace Collection so for the next 13 years there were Christmas Carol concerts to be performed. The high light every year was performing at the Royal Albert Hall with The Bach Choir with Sir David Willcocks the conductor keeping us all together. We played two concerts back to back to a packed Royal Albert Hall. By the way Katherine the Duchess of Kent always sang with the choir but only on the afternoon performance—she always loved it. Sadly this time came to an end when John Wallace CBE was appointed Principle of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, a position he still holds to this day. The Wallace Collection years had came to an end.

 When I left The Royal Artillery Band I decided to form my own brass group called Thames Fanfare Brass Ensemble which by the way is now in it's 26th year so my own group still manages to play carols at Christmas. Only two years ago we were engaged to play carols for three days at the St. Modwen Shopping Centre at the Elephant and Castle, London and for the Regent Street Association a couple of days in South Molton Street.London.

 Three years ago my Herald Trumpeters were asked to perform a fanfare for the start of a celebrity Christmas concert for the charity Kids for Kids, the concert was a great success and the following year we returned again but this time with my brass quintet Thames Fanfare Brass. The concert was again a great success and much needed money was raised.

 After the concert I talked to the founder of the charity Patricia Parker MBE and I suggested that we might be able to raise money next year by playing carols at one of the railway stations, so around July time arrangements were put in place for us to perform at Euston Station before the celebrity concert date.

 29th November  I made my way to Euston Station for a 12-30pm start armed with trumpet, music stands, carol books amp, backing cd's father Christmas hats and with warm clothes on, I was  allocated a spot at the station  where we would be allowed to perform and we should not move from there  (health and safety reasons) lets put this way it was cold, draughty and not the best position to be had, never mind we just got on with it.

Out came all the old favourites rocking around the Christmas tree, Jingle Bells, Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole then I would play for half an hour on the trumpet, this combination went on until 4-00 pm when I was joined by another two trumpets......trombone, French horn and a euphonium ,so now with the added instruments and a bigger brass sound the collecting buckets were starting to rattle. 7-00 pm arrived I was well shattered and could not feel my lips any more, the lads were great and very supportive of the cause.

 The very next day bright and early I received a telephone call from Patrice Parker who was truly over the moon with excitement that we had managed to raise £679-33p.

Now on the 16 December my brass group were performing at All Saints church Fulham, Candlelit Christmas Concert sponsored by Sciteb Ltd hosted by the celebrity Eamonn Holmes of Sky television and readers The Baroness Rendell of Babergh CDE.Lord Cope of Berkeley PC,Alistair Burt MP and Richard Wilson OBE.

 What with Richard Wilson, Ruth Rendell the choir of the Danes Hill school, St Andrews Singers, saxophone solo and the very popular Post Horn gallop played by yours truly, carol descants and fanfares and the witty TV presenter Eamonn Holmes we were in for a great concert  and a night to remember which we did knowing that the charity Kids for Kids had raised just under £10,000 and I remember leaving the concert with a good feel factor Christmas period had arrived,

 Why is a goat/donkey so important in Darfur?

 Because without a goat/donkey life is virtually impossible in the vast  expanse that is Darfur even small children walk miles across the desert to reach water -a goat/donkey is a life saver, transforming the life of a thirsty child.