60th Anniversary Concert for the Army Benevolent Fund

Friday 03 June 2005

Absolute privilege! …

The two words used by the Eisteddfod winners, Bridgend Male Choir when 66 choristers took to the stage at Monmouth’s Blake Theatre with the hugely talented Band of the Corps of the Royal Engineers.

The Choir was pleased to share the stage with the Band last year at Wyastone Hall, Ross-on-Wye and to receive an invite to perform again for this worthy Army Benevolent Fund Charity at a 60th Anniversary Concert celebrating the end of wartime hostilities was very special.

The Corps of the Royal Engineers was formed in 1856 bringing together the Royal Engineers, comprised entirely of officers and the Sappers and Miners, made up of other ranks. From 1880 a full Symphony Orchestra began to emerge, since which time the Corps has performed by Royal Command at State banquets, at Royal Tournaments, Military Tattoos and other celebrations, including the Coronation of our present Queen Elizabeth 11 and also at altogether more sombre occasions including the funerals of both King George V and King George VI. The Corps toured continually during the war years and extensively since. Most recently they have been in Iraq playing a major role within Army Medical Services as well as providing troop concerts.

Under the baton of Corps’ Major E H Keeley and the Choir’s John Jenkins, both the Band and Choir provided varied entertainment for the appreciative audience. Within the programme, the Band showed their versatility by including a euphonium duet; vocal solo and vocal duet of a McCartney popular tune and the Author’s choice, a piccolo solo from Vivaldi’s Concerto in C Major, Movements 1 & 2.

The Choir featured two of its soloists, Paul Carter who sang Bui Doi from the musical, Miss Saigon and Leon Evans who sang the solo part in Morte Christe. This latter item was conducted by Major Keeley, who also led both Band and Choir in a rousing arrangement of Comrades in Arms. John Jenkins conducted both groups with Karl Jenkins’, Benidictus from the Armed Man, which he had also arranged.

The finale was provided by the Band with the ever popular Eve of the War from Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds, soon to become a major film release. With a blacked out Theatre, a succession of red, yellow and green lights and artificial smoke created the environment for this most dramatic of pieces played out magnificently by this quite marvellous Regimental Band.

The Concert closed with appreciative words from Colonel Andrew Tuggey, Chairman of the Gwent Branch of the Army Benevolent Fund who praised the skills of both the Choir and the Band, particularly with the unrehearsed, but faultless combined items.