Household Cavalry Masterclass

On Tuesday, 25th of March, I had the pleasure of giving a lecture and masterclass at Hyde Park Barracks for members of the Life Guards in the Household Cavalry and members of the Band of the Blues and Royals. I performed with the Altenburg Ensemble and we presented a short history of the Natural Trumpet, and then demonstrated each point using a suitable piece of music. We performed music by Bendinelli, Altenburg, Biber, Dauverné, Monteverdi and Schiedermayer.

After our presentation, we invited several of their players to join us. Those of us who have got spare natural trumpets had brought them and we were able to provide instruments for some of their players.

After our presentation and masterclass the musicians reciprocated by teaching us about their traditions and style of playing. As the oldest continuous tradition of trumpet playing in the world it was an honour to be present for this. Four of the state trumpeters played fanfares for us. Then they allowed us to play their instruments and provided us with handwritten parts to play from. They also instructed us how to play with the heavy banner, by getting your forearm to support the weight, so that the instrument balances more easily.

I've wanted to play on the state trumpets for as long as I can remember, so it was the fulfilment of a long-held ambition for me to play these instruments. The instruments we played are fairly new instruments, made signed and made by Smith Watkins. (Richard Smith and the late Derek Watkins). The ongoing dream would be to play the silver state trumpets ("made new" by the famous instrument maker William Bull) which are housed in the Tower of London!

I would like to thank the ladies and gentlemen of the Household Cavalry for making this day such a memorable one. I was really inspired by the open mindedness of all present - this was a great opportunity for the mutually-beneficial exchange of knowledge and experience.

Russell Gilmour
Russell Gilmour Blog
writing on music, photography, engraving, travel and life as a freelance professional musician.