The Countess of Wessex's String Orchestra
Major David B Hammond (conductor)
We are very pleased to announce a new recording from MPR of music for string orchestra entitled 'Palace Premieres', with the Countess of Wessex's String Orchestra. The playlist consists of hitherto unrecorded music performed during Royal Investitures (where honours are bestowed by Her Majesty the Queen or by one of her close family) and includes works such as Suite: In Rural England by Thomas Dunhill, Shepherd's Delight by Alec Rowley, Pastoral Scene by Frederic Curzon, Fragment for Strings by Bertram Walton O'Donnell, Nocturne by WH Speer, In Georgian Days by Roger Quilter, Rivers of Devon Suite by Ernest Markham Lee and a number of beautiful light music arrangements for strings of folk songs. We have also included as a 'bonus' a Suite of Seven Pieces by Giles Farnaby, arranged by Bantock. We recorded the latter only to discover that in fact it has already been recorded but only once to our knowledge and we decided that as it is such good material we just had to include it.
The Countess of Wessex's String Orchestra is very sensitively directed by Major David Hammond, a truly fine musician. The orchestra consists of the best string players in the Army who are very fine and highly trained musicians. The quality of playing is really excellent and the performances musicianly and committed. The CD was recorded in the sumptuous acoustic of the Guards Chapel in London and the recording engineer is the legendary Tony Faulkner. Mike Purton was producer and editor and we recommend this recording to anyone who loves British music of a certain period (see above). Lee's 'Rivers of Devon' Suite is very Elgarian, Speer's little Nocturne brings to mind Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll and you can see from many of the titles that the spirit of Rural England is frequently invoked. This recording has been made in collaboration with the Corps of Army Music Trust.
Thomas F Dunhill: Suite: In Rural England, Op.72
I. A Pastoral
III. A Country Tune
Peter Thorne: Cold Winter Nights
Alicia Scott, transcr. Fred Hartley: Annie Laurie (Traditional Scottish Air
Roger Quilter: In Georgian Days (Gavotte from Rosmé)
Traditional, transcr. Harry Dexter: Blow the Wind Southerly (A Northumbrian Folk Song)
Allan Macbeth: Intermezzo 'Forget-Me-Not'
Alec Rowley: Shepherd's Delight
I. Spring Woodland
II. Hush Song
III. Shepherd's Rondel
Peter Wilson: Iris and Lavender (A Concert Waltz)
Frederic Curzon: Pastoral Scene
Bertram Walton O'Donnell: Fragment for Strings
Traditional, transcr. Eric Thiman: Two Pieces
II. Billy Boy (Northumbrian Origin)
William H Speer: Nocturne for String Orchestra, Op.17
Ernest Markham Lee: Rivers of Devon Suite
I. Tamar: Stately ships ride out to sea
II. Dart: Waters flash and leap
III. Torridge: Dusk deepening between the hills
IV. Lynn: Through the wild and woodland
Giles Farnaby, transcr. Granville Bantock: Suite of Seven Pieces
I. A Toye
II. Giles Farnaby's Dreame
III. Giles Farnaby's Conceit
IV. His Rest (Galiard)
V. His Humour
VI. A Maske
VII. Tower Hill
Recorded in the Royal Military Chapel (The Guards' Chapel), Wellington Barracks, London, UK on 18th-20th March 2019
Recording Production & Editing: Mike Purton
Recording Engineering: Tony Faulkner
Design: Hannah Whale, Fruition Creative Concepts
Total Time: 75.49
Release Date: November 2019
The Countess of Wessex’s String Orchestra (CWSO) was created on 1 April 2014 as part of recent changes within the Corps of Army Music. There has been a long tradition of string playing in the British Army, particularly associated with the orchestra of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, in existence for over 250 years, and proud to have been the first professional orchestra in Britain. The CWSO can however trace its heritage back to ‘The King’s Musick’ of strings from the time of the Restoration in England which was eventually to form the basis of Queen Victoria’s private band in the nineteenth century.
The CWSO performs a variety of music, ranging from classical to pop, in various settings both in the United Kingdom and abroad. Engagements are varied, including investitures, ceremonies at royal households, state banquets and dinners, support to army regiments and corps, defence engagement activity, and international short-term training teams. The CWSO also provides the principal players for tri-service orchestral events, such as at Her Majesty the Queen’s 90th Birthday celebrations, the Passchendaele centenary at Ypres, the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, and the annual Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.
The CWSO is based at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich and is proud to be named after the Corps of Army Music’s Colonel-in-Chief.
The Countess of Wessex’s String Orchestra appears by kind permission of Major General B J Bathurst CBE, Major-General Commanding the Household Division.
David studied at the London College of Music, and York and Cambridge Universities, performing as solo French horn with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and principal horn of the Cambridge University Musical Society. Before joining the British army in 1995 he worked for four years in Southern Africa for the Bophuthatswana Arts Council as a musician and teacher in schools, music centres, and for the local Defence Force.
After completing military training, David was assigned as a French horn player to the Band of The Hussars and Light Dragoons in Münster, Germany. This took him to Bosnia/Herzegovina, Canada, and around Western Europe, as well as to Kosovo with 2 Armoured Field Ambulance on Op AGRICOLA. Having been selected for the Bandmaster course at the Royal Military School of Music (RMSM), Kneller Hall, he passed out top of class, winning the Worshipful Company of Musicians Silver Medal. Following Bandmaster positions with The Royal Gibraltar Regiment, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, a staff appointment at HQ CAMUS, and as School Bandmaster at the RMSM, David was commissioned into the Corps of Army Music in 2008 as Director of Music The Band of The Parachute Regiment. With the PARAs he completed tours of the Falkland Islands and Cyprus, also directing music support for commemorative events at Arnhem, Normandy, and Dunkirk. He led the PARA band to Afghanistan on Op HERRICK 13 with 16 Air Assault Brigade, performing for NATO troops and mentoring Afghan National Army bands. Following a position as officer commanding Phase 2 training at the RMSM, he completed the four-month Household Cavalry military equestrian course and was assigned Director of Music The Band of the Blues and Royals, leading the mounted music for State ceremonial in 2014, including the Queen’s Birthday Parade. David remained with the band after the union with the Life Guards and then took up the position of Director of Music the Countess of Wessex’s String Orchestra.
David has five degrees, is a Fellow of the major music conservatoires, and also a qualified teacher. His PhD research was a detailed analysis of the culture, performance, and influence of British army bands in the interwar years. David has participated in unit sports throughout his career, notably football and rugby, and has also enjoyed ‘adventure’ travelling – such as canoeing on the Zambezi and completing the Trans-Siberian Railway – but now spends his spare time with his wife, Kate, and their fourteen-year-old twin daughters, Jane and Elizabeth.
CWS001 View Booklet