Lehigh University
Lehigh University

News

Lehigh to offer rare performance of historic military music

Lehigh University’s David Diggs will direct a world premiere performance of his “Trooping the Colour Suite,” in addition to other pieces, with the university’s Wind Ensemble, in a performance at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 1 at Zoellner Arts Center. The Wind Ensemble will be joined by Major Graham O. Jones MBE, considered England’s most respected military conductor.

Also featured will be the American premieres of “The Red Machine” by Peter Graham, “Fantasia Prelude on Crimmond” by Graham Jones, and “Monck’s March” by Nigel Hess, which will be conducted by Major Jones. Other pieces performed will be “The Bond of Friendship” by John Mackenzie-Rogan, “Fanfare to Our Heroes” by David W. Marshall, “Scarlet and Gold March” by Lloyd Thomas, and “Overture 1812- CMD Version” by P.I. Tchaikovsky. Music from the Regimental Band of Her Majesty’s Coldstream Guards from 1785 will include pieces by Christopher Frederick Eley, “Duke of York’s March”, “Glee” and “Quick March.”

The performance of music—some of which hasn’t been performed since 1785—is the culmination of a friendship that struck up between Diggs, an expert in historical and military music, and Jones, who serves as the director of music of the Regimental Band of Her Majesty’s Coldstream Guards.

Diggs developed a deep appreciation for British Regimental Band music after purchasing some recordings at an auction, and he discussed the music with Major Jones during dinner one evening. “After a rather long pause, Graham made the bold suggestion that I should come to London to get to know the band from the inside,” says Diggs. “And thus began the journey that has led to the concert, ‘On Her Majesty’s Service.’”

Diggs has made several trips to London to research the history of the band and its literature and to collect material for his program. “All of the music in the concert is from the repertoire of the Coldstream Guards Band, much of it not played in America, except when the band is on tour,” says Diggs. “Their last trip to America was in 2001.”

Other pieces included in the May 1st performance include:

- “Fanfare for Our Heroes,” which was written in 1991 by then-director of music Major David W. Marshall for the band’s tour of America. It was written as a salute to the personnel from both sides of the ocean serving in the Persian Gulf conflict. Lloyd Thomas has written the classic parade ground march “Scarlet and Gold March” which refers to the royal colors of scarlet and gold worn by the men and women of Her Majesty’s Foot Guards.

- “The Red Machine”, which is inspired by the band’s reputation for precision marching that has led to them being described as a “red machine” The main thematic material is derived from the chorale “Ein Feste Burg” which is part of the slow troop march “Les Huguenots,” long associated with the Foot Guards bands. There are also references drawn from the music of Holst, who is recognized as one the twentieth century’s most important contributors to band literature.

- “Monck’s March,” which was commissioned by the Coldstream Guards band in 2002. Nigel Hess, one of England’s most respected composers, has written numerous scores for both American and British television and films. He has been the House Composer for the Royal Shakespeare Company, and his concert music is equally well respected.

Diggs, director, joined the Lehigh University faculty in 1998 as teacher of harmony and oboe. A woodwind specialist, he is active in New York City where he regularly performs with the NYC Ballet Orchestra and the Carnegie Trio. He has also performed with the New York Philharmonic, NYC Opera Orchestra, Moiseyev Russian Ballet, Goldman Memorial Band and in numerous Broadway shows. He has appeared as soloist with such notable figures as Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Isaac Hayes, Yanni, Johnny Mathis and Jerry Herman, and was a guest artist on “Saturday Night Live.” Diggs received a Masters degree from Stony Brook, where he studied with members of the New York Woodwind Quintet, most notably Ronald Roseman (oboe), Samuel Baron (flute) and Arthur Weisberg (bassoon).

Jones is a regular figure at Buckingham Palace and State events. He enlisted into the Junior Musicians Troop in 1972 as a bass trombonist and harpist, and, in 1984, he graduated from Kneller Hall, where he received prizes for composition and orchestration. Prior to his present posting, he was bandmaster to the Queen’s Royal Lancers and the Royal Highland Fusiliers. In 1994, he was appointed director of music of the Lowland Band of the Scottish Division, and, in 2001, he was posted to the Coldstream Guards band. The Wind Ensemble has performed, premiered and recorded several of his works.

The Wind Ensemble at Lehigh University is a select group of students dedicated to the performance of music specifically written for woodwinds, brass and percussion. Drawn from the various colleges of the university, these students represent many diverse majors including engineering (civil, mechanical, electrical and chemical), computer science, physics, biology and psychology. In 1999, The Wind Ensemble was honored by Downbeat Magazine, receiving the award for the most outstanding college classical symphonic band.

Tickets to the May 1 concert are available through Zoellner Ticket Services for $15; call 610-758-2787 (7LU-ARTS) or order tickets online. Senior, student, LVAIC and group discounts are available.

Posted on Monday, April 25, 2005

share this story: