Horse Guards Parade ceremony is '˜a real privilege' say forces personnel

EXCITEMENT is reaching a fever pitch as armed forces bands make the final preparations for a display on Horse Guards Parade.

Saturday, 26th May 2018, 7:30 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 8:51 am
The Massed Bands of the Royal Marines will perform their world-renowned Beating Retreat on London's iconic Horse Guards Parade on May 30 and 31 Picture : Habibur Rahman

On May 30 and 31, the Massed Bands of the Royal Marines will perform their world-renowned Beating Retreat – a precision drill and colour that dates back to the 16th century.

Performed every two years, the final rehearsals for this historic ceremony took place at HMS Excellent in Portsmouth yesterday.

The personnel spearheading the ceremony say that it is an incredible honour to take part in such an event.

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The Massed Bands of the Royal Marines will perform their world-renowned Beating Retreat on London's iconic Horse Guards Parade on May 30 and 31 Picture : Habibur Rahman

Major Huw Williams, conductor of the fanfare team, said: ‘It’s a great privilege to be the fanfare team conductor for this.

‘It is an amazing opportunity to just stand in Horse Guards Parade and conduct five bands like this.

‘It’s not only a privilege but also something that not everyone gets the chance to do, so I’m really excited.’

‘I’ve performed there many times before as a clarinet player – the preparation for this goes on for months, but the rehearsals are only for about three weeks in total.

The rehearsals have really gone very well which is a testament to the design of the display and the hard work of everyone involved.

‘There’s a lot of complex movements to master and to see it all come together with 220 musicians is something that is really quite special.’

Lt Col Jon Ridley, principal director of music, said: ‘This event is unique in that it is the only time everyone from the band service comes together to perform.

‘My job is to come up with the music for the ceremony – which is then used to create the marching display, so we all work together to make it happen. We can’t wait for it now.’

The focus of this year’s piece is to capture the essence of the First World War.

WO1 Buster Brown, choreographer for the Beating Retreat, said: ‘Once I get given the music it is my job to plan out the movements.

‘It comes just from listening to it and getting a feel for the music.

‘I’m really confident – the guys have worked really hard and we’re good to go.’

The ceremony’s charity partner is the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC).