The 2013 Australia/New Zealand Festival Procession
We began 2013 in our now customary way - with Pearly Kings and Queens, the RBL and
RAFA Standards and the organisers and supporters of the Australia/New Zealand Festival.
The march from the statue of Admiral Arthur Phillip behind St. Paul’s Cathedral to
St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate church was a short one but we managed to cover a lot
of ground, musically.
As in previous years we set off with Waltzing Matilda. The song was written in Queensland,
Australia, in 1895 by ‘Banjo’ Paterson to music by Christina Macpherson. Her account
has it that she’d recently heard a march arrangement of a Scottish ballad Thou Bonnie
Wood o' Criagielea and was just reproducing the tune.
If you listen to Criagielea you’ll find it’s nothing like Waltzing Matilda, so either
Christina had a tin ear or she was modestly not claiming her original composition.
Either way, we’d covered Australia and Scotland in our first march.
Our second march, Euterpe, took us to Ancient Greece, Bombay and Surrey. Named after
the muse of music and lyric poetry in Greek mythology, the march seems to have been
composed by William Clark who enlisted in the 106 Bombay Light Infantry in 1877 and
later became the Band Master of 1st Battalion The East Surrey Regiment.
I say ‘seems’ because although Euterpe and two other marches were copyrighted in
1913 by W. Clark, there isn’t yet a proven link between that W. Clark and Band Master
Clark. As the only Band Master called Clark in 1913 was in the East Surreys, and
no other known march composers then were called Clark, he seems to be a fair bet
for the composer of Euterpe.
Our next march, Galanthia, brought us closer to home. To Holborn, in fact, where
its composer, William H Turpin, worked as a carter for a railway company and liked
to compose marches sitting in the corner of a pub. Our F flute player Phil Williams,
no stranger to the corners of pubs himself, has a hand-written part for Galanthia
inscribed “To the 2nd Tower Hamlets Volunteers 1903”. It’s nice to think that this
great march was dedicated to a fellow Rifle Volunteer Corps.
Our final march, The Great Escape, took us to Poland, Bavaria and the USA. The march
was written by American screen composer Elmer Bernstein, who also wrote music for
‘The Magnificent Seven’, ‘True Grit’, 'Ghostbusters', ‘The Blues Brothers’ and ‘Trading
Places’, among many others.
The film of the escape from Stalag Luft III in Poland was actually filmed near Munich,
but the film bears little relation to reality. The real escape was by British and
Commonwealth officers - no Americans and no motorcycles!
But with four Australian and three New Zealand airmen among the real ‘great escapers’,
this was an appropriate way to end our ‘round the world’ set of marches for the 2013
Australia/New Zealand Festival Procession.