With over 300 years of practice, The Band of the Royal Marines with the Pipes, Drums, and Highland Dancers of the Scots Guards brings traditions that hark back to the roots of British and Scottish heritage and celebrates the beauty and strength of each. Their impressive presence on the Wharton Center stage is a profound one.
Daryl Powell is the Director of Music for The Band of the Royal Marines with the Pipes, Drums, and Highland Dancers of the Scots Guards, which will be performing in Wharton Center’s Cobb Great Hall on January 30th at 8:00 PM.
We asked Daryl Powell if he could answer some thought-provoking questions about his time and experience in the group.
1. Tell us a bit about how you became a member of the Band of the Royal Marines?
I joined the Royal Marines Band Service (RMBS) in 1995 as a solo cornet player following a 4-year period studying performance at the Birmingham Conservatoire. The opportunities on offer within the RMBS are endless as all members join as musicians/buglers (equivalent to a private) and have to work their way through the ranks in order to progress to become a Director of Music. I have travelled extensively with the Band Service, completed a second degree and performed at some of the greatest concert halls and arenas around the world with them.
2. What is your position within the group; what’s a typical day (concert) like for you? How long did it take you to achieve this position?
I am the Director of Music of the band, a position I have held since Sept 2015. I have served for 20 years and it took me 17 years before I commissioned as an officer and took up my first appointment as a Director of Music with the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth. There are 5 Royal Marines Bands, all of which are in high demand, so a typical day is spent rehearsing for or performing an engagement. The Band is extremely versatile and can perform in numerous combinations and genres, from small groupings including string quartets and jazz trios, right through to marching bands and a full symphonic concert band.
3. Are there roles for women available in the Band of the Royal Marines?
Yes there are; women have been very much part of the RMBS for over 20 years now and they perform the same roles as the male members of the bands.
4. I see that the group will be performing music from Game of Thrones, are you a fan of the show? How did the group decide on this music, or any music?
Yes I am a huge fan of the show, which led me to make the arrangement for marching band several years ago. I chose the music for the Royal Marines for this tour, whilst the Pipe Major of the 1st Battalion Scots Guards chose the repertoire for the Pipes and Drums. We knew the theme for the show was “The British Isles of Wonder,” so I researched and picked music to work around this theme whilst also trying to demonstrate the versatility of the band in as many different ways as possible. Our audiences do have certain expectations and so it was important to include some traditional elements, whilst performing well-executed drill movements. I have also tried to challenge the band by including bigger works and pieces which require additional ensembles, so for example in our English set we perform an old 17th century song, “Over the Hills and Far Away,” which showcases a vocalist, solo trumpet, guitar and violinist, along with the marching band. We also use a ceilidh (Gaelic Folk) band in the Irish set for “Lord of the Dance.”
5. What’s your proudest moment in your career as a captain?
I have been fortunate to perform at some really high profile events since becoming a Director of Music, including a series of public duties at Buckingham Palace, but I think the highlight so far was conducting the Massed Royal Marines Bands at the Royal Albert Hall, London for the annual Mountbatten Festival of Music in 2015.
6. With many different audiences from all around the world, does the show ever change?
Yes the show changes constantly depending on where we are performing and in which ensemble format we are in. For this tour the show is a set format, but still needs adapting due to the varying stage sizes, whereas at home one day we perform as a concert band the next it could be as an orchestra which requires many different skills and repertoire choices.
7. What’s your favorite number to perform every-night and why?
It keeps changing really-at the moment I really enjoy our Welsh set, as it includes a new work “Welsh Clog Dance,” however within the Scottish set there is a great piece called “Alba,” which also includes the pipers and that has been very well received.
8. Do you have any pre-show rituals that you or the entire group does before getting on stage?
Not really-the band, pipes and drums have particular sound checks we have to undertake for sound at the venues but as such everyone knows what is expected of them and they just get on and do it.
9. In your opinion, what is the best number in the show?
I like the whole show (then I would say that as I programmed it!) but I think each of the individual sets has really strong works in that have been appreciated by the audiences. There is a really good medley of USA service marches as a tribute to the Armed Forces towards the end and that is still a favorite for the band and audience alike.
For more information, and for tickets to see The Band of the Royal Marines with the Pipes, Drums, and Highland Dancers of the Scots Guards visit the show page on our website, by calling 1-800-WHARTON, or by visiting the Ticket Office.