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A MUSICAL VOYAGE - Royal Australian Navy

A MUSICAL VOYAGE - Royal Australian Navy

- 192 – Our time in

- 192 – Our time in Tonga came to an end the following Monday when we boarded the plane to fly back to Australia. It was an interesting cultural experience, not only having the opportunity of experiencing Tongan culture, but also seeing how other cultures influence the day to day living of the Tongan people. It was also a great honour for us to be involved in such an important event of which many dignitaries, both government officials and Royal representatives, from around the world was invited to attend. LONGLOOK 2008 Article by Leading Seaman Cassandra Mohapp Long Look Exchange 2008 began in April 2008 and was completed in August 2008, and it was with great delight, and some anxiety that we received the notification that we were to represent the Royal Australian Navy Band in the United Kingdom; a high honour and privilege for both of us. We spent a substantial amount of time prior to departing on LL08 researching the bands we were going to be working with, believing how important it was to know the respective band leaders and also a little of their history. Most importantly, we spent some time working out how we were going to be most effective in each band. We left our country with high expectations of ourselves, and also the organisation where we were to spend the next three months. We arrived in Brize Norton on Thursday 24 April 2008 and were greeted by a very cheerful and delightful man and one with whom we were to spend the next three months with, Warrant Officer 1 st Class James Whitwham. Mr Whitwham was our liaison for the duration of the Exchange Program and we were not to know that he would also become such a great and dear friend to us all. He drove us to Portsmouth to start LL08 with Her Majesty’s Royal Marine Band - Portsmouth. It was on this journey that I witnessed something terrible… a car with three wheels! I yelled from the back seat… “Oh no! What happened to that car!?” After a few minutes of laughing his head off, Mr Whitwham replied… “It’s ok Cassie. That is a special car that only needs three wheels. It’s ok. It’s supposed to look like that.” I didn’t believe him and thought he was having a joke with me… luckily I only saw the one car like it because I found it very confusing… it was just wrong… like nothing I had ever seen before! However, after arriving safely in Portsmouth we literally got back in the car the next day to drive five hours up to Manchester to do a concert with the cast from Coronation Street with Her Majesty's Royal Marine Band - Scotland. The concert was a charity event and was held at the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester. A beautiful hall and the crowd were most appreciative. The band was great and certainly knew how to make us Aussies feel very welcome – although it was impossible to enjoy their abundance of hospitality with pint after pint after pint! Goodness me… but one did her best!! It was a slow and steady journey back to Portsmouth the day after the concert, Saturday 26 April 2008. We sadly missed out on ANZAC Day in London but the concert in Manchester was certainly a lot of fun and we enjoyed the festivities just the same. Three weeks working with Her Majesty’s Royal Marine Band – Portsmouth gave us some wonderful performance opportunities. Lieutenant Andrew Stokes conducted, and I performed with the band in Dorking and Sonning on Thames and we enjoyed many other performances in Eastbourne, and Fareham. We were privileged to accompany the band on a special event at St Pauls Cathedral in London, A City Salute, and were moved by the supportive crowd surrounding us. It was an occasion to honour their service personnel in the Middle East and was hosted by Prince William and Prince Harry. It really was an extremely memorable occasion. We then travelled to Plymouth and worked with Her Majesty’s Royal Marine Band at HMS Raleigh. We performed in Coldrose for a Wings Parade and Lieutenant Stokes conducted the band for the Welcome Home parade for HMS Campbelltown in HMS Drake. We managed to see some of the beautiful countryside in Cornwall and were grateful to members of the band for spending the day with us and driving us around AND for organising a “special” tour of the Plymouth Gin Distillery. It was lovely. Royal Australian Navy Band: A Musical Voyage

- 193 – We then headed over to Lympstone to work with Her Majesty’s Royal Marine Band in Exmouth. We had the pleasure of performing in the Saint Mary Magdalene Church in Taunton, a church built in the thirteenth century. We also performed in a graduation parade for the newest Commando recruits which were thought was a lot of fun. We were overwhelmed by the generosity of members of this band who held a BBQ party for us at their home. We extend a very warm thank you to them for all their efforts in keeping us busy with social events; drinking, eating, water skiing, drinking, squash, drinking, golf and drinking. We hope to repay the favour one day. We also were able to spend some time with the Royal Marine Band School of Music giving tutorials and workshops which was extremely rewarding. It was interesting to see the similarities of how the Australian Defence Force School of Music runs musicianship courses and how the Royal Marines School of Music manages and conducts their business. Our time with the staff and students from the Royal Marines School of Music finished with a performance for an Open Day at Whale Island, Portsmouth. We were also privileged to be invited to the band’s performance in Deal and also on a few other occasions where band members, who passed away while we were serving with the band during Long Look, were honoured. It was significant for us to be included and a very sad day for the band corps. We joined the Royal Marine Band - Scotland on Monday 14 July 08. I nearly missed the flight to Edinburgh due to insisting that it was important to take ALL of my luggage and gifts with me on the flight as opposed to having it travel later with the Portsmouth band. I reluctantly left some precious purchases from the Plymouth Gin Distillery with Warrant Officer Whitwham who thankfully drove all the way back to the airport to pick it up for me. I sense the long-haired Colonel (Mrs Whitwham) still hasn’t quite forgiven me! Although, I was pleasantly surprised to receive all my precious goods unopened! We came to our last stop in the Long Look Exchange Program 2008 – HMS Caledonia. We observed the band doing Beat Retreats in Liverpool and Sunderland, and began rehearsals with them two weeks later for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Lieutenant Andrew Stokes conducted the band in the opening fanfare sequence and I performed on side drum with the band. And I must make mention of the special performance where my Uncle Les and Aunty Pauline were present. It was by pure chance that they had tickets to a performance of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo the same night I was performing. A few years ago they booked their holiday to the UK and were truly excited to have a special mention made of them on the night of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo performance. It is something they still talk about and I can imagine will continue to talk about for many years to come. Performing in the Edinburgh Military Tattoo was the most amazing experience we have all had and we are thankful to Principal Director of Music, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Davis, OBE for his generosity in allowing us to be involved. It was a lovely way to conclude our time in the UK as members from each of the bands we had visited previously all came together in Scotland. We were able to socialize and perform with band members as well as doing a little sight-seeing. It was a perfect finale to a fantastic exchange program. What would be fabulous though is the opportunity to use the arena of the Edinburgh Castle to showcase the marvellous marching displays we do and really ‘blow the socks off’ our international friends. We must never underestimate the brilliance of what we do and what we can achieve on the world stage! Long Look Exchange 2008 was an extraordinary experience; on a professional and personal level. We had the opportunity to work with all four bands of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines spending a few weeks with each; Portsmouth, Plymouth, Lympstone and Scotland. Her Majesty’s Royal Marine Band in Dartmouth was not operational at the time of Long Look Exchange 2008 but we feel we really did get a fabulous taste of the quality of musicianship, leadership and administration for Her Majesty’s Royal Marine Band. On a final note though, and probably the most significant lesson that came from this exchange program, is that you don’t really understand or appreciate the high level of musicianship within your own organization until you are exposed to other levels of musicianship from around the world. We really do have world class musicians in our band and this was significantly highlighted during Long Look 2008. The resources we have, the level of musicianship we have, the versatility we enjoy, the people we have, and the level of leadership we command is really world class. Royal Australian Navy Band: A Musical Voyage

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