British band doesn't miss a beat

TODD SAELHOF -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:24 AM ET

They struck up an impromptu rendition of O Canada like they'd had it mastered for years, even though it's only been a few months since members of this touring British band have played together.

Not even a late arrival to the Masters could throw the Band of the Prince of Wales Division off their appointed mission -- to bring harmony and a touch of British culture to the week-long show-jumping event at Spruce Meadows, said the band's director of music Capt. Ian Johnson.

"There's always been a British military band here at this particular event, so we want to continuing bringing British pomp and ceremony here," said Johnson, whose recently assembled 34-piece ensemble had its travel plans to Calgary unexpectedly delayed by the British armed forces.

"Even though we arrived late, it's gone very well."

That was evident during the band's salute to Canadian show jumper Mario Deslauriers yesterday after the Quebec rider won the afternoon's Akita Drilling Cup in the International Ring.

The band, sent specifically to play at the Masters by Britain's Corps of Army Music, was spot-on with the Canadian national anthem in Deslauriers' honour despite having to wait until the final rider of the event before knowing which score they would be playing.

"It's always touch-and-go because we sit waiting in the wings to see who wins to determine which national anthem we're going to play," said Johnson, on his second tour of band duty to Spruce Meadows.

"But we're out there to do our performances and bring military music to the public.

"I think the welcome we get here is fantastic -- you don't get it anywhere else, and I've travelled all over the world," Johnson said.


Videos

Photos