Marching Around The World

Australia / New Zealand Day  Festival Parade 2013

Sat 26/1/2013

Scribe Mike Boxall

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Marching Around the World


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.

Mike Boxall