For the past 37 years, the Massed Bands of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines have been performing at London’s Royal Albert Hall with the aim of passing the profits from the shows on to Royal Navy and Royal Marines charities. Since 1975, money raised has also been donated to ‘Sargent Cancer Care for Children’ and subsequently ‘Clic Sargent’.
This self – funding event plays to a capacity audience each February, over three nights, and is the primary PR event for the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. It is also, with the exception of the ‘Proms’, the longest running event at the Royal Albert Hall.
Presented, this year, by Dan Snow, this is more than just a military band concert. If you visualize a stroll in the park on a Sunday afternoon to the accompaniment of a Strauss waltz or a parade with a band at its head than you would be well wide of the mark. This is a full-on, in-your-face production!
On stage a symphonic wind band of 120 musicians is augmented as required throughout the show by a 14-piece fanfare team, a Corps of Drums, or various soloists or instrumental groups, all serving members of the Royal Marines Band Service. Music performed includes classical to contemporary, big band to jazz, as well as the traditional fare of marches and, of course, a rousing patriotic finale. However, it is the lighting that takes a prominent role in creating the overall ‘son et lumière’ effect.
The lighting inventory this year consisted of some 400 fixtures including some 113 moving heads (all but eight coming from the Clay Paky stable) supplied either by DBN Lighting Ltd, Manchester or from Royal Albert Hall stock. Alpha Spot HPE 300, 575 and 1200 and Alpha Wash Halos, 575 and Stage Zoom 1200. However, the pièce de résistance this year were the 14 Alpha Beam 300. which really led the look of the show.
LD Mark Jones took nine days to programme approximately 500 cues using a Jands Vista S1 control surface and WYSIWYG. The file was then transferred to the Royal Albert Hall’s Jands Vista T4 for the shows.