Prince William and a musical journey

To say that this week was interesting would be a bit of an understatement.

James, Martin, Alison & Prince William

On Monday I flew down to London to attend a dinner given by HRH Prince William of Wales at Windsor Castle on the night before he announced his engagement to Kate Middleton.  Sir Michael Parkinson had asked if my family and I would attend the dinner and if Alison and Martin would perform a couple of numbers for the invited audience.

St George's Hall, Windsor Castle

The whole evening was in support of the Child Bereavement Charity, of which Prince William and Sir Michael are patrons.  It was lovely to meet the writer Julian Fellowes and the radio presenter Alan Titchmarch at the dinner because I was a fan of Julian’s movie Gosford Park and because Alan has been a long time supporter and fan of Alison’s music.

The dinner itself was held in the 185foot long St George’s Hall and a particular highlight for me was getting to see the Rubens and Van Dyke paintings in the Kings Drawing Room.  We also had a nice chat with the Prince himself and I spoke to him about his time at St Andrews University and our common interest in playing drums.

Coworth Park

Our hotel during the first couple of days was the stunning 5 Star Coworth Park outside Ascot, a Georgian country house which is part of the Dorchester Group.  Details such as English smoked oak flooring blend seamlessly with an understated design palette that make the whole experience very relaxing.

Alison, Martin & Orchestra

On Wednesday we headed to Birkenhead, near Liverpool to start rehearsals of an orchestral suite Guy Barker (The Talented Mr Ripley) had written for Martin.  The Royal Liverpool Philarmonic Orchestra provided the string section while Guy used his own Big Band who came up from London.  Normally I just organise these events but on this occasion I had been asked to play drums as well which was a bit of a nerve-racking experience, especially considering the calibre of the other musicians.  Alison also sang a couple of numbers with the orchestra including the Leonard Cohen song ‘Dance Me To The End of Love’ and ‘Black Coffee’.

James' Drum Setup

It was also great getting the opportunity to play again with bassist Chris Hill (Jamie Cullum) and Jack Emblow (Elton John) plus working with Ralph Salmins (Van Morrison, Tom Jones) for the first time.

The last time I had to play a concert which required reading an orchestral part was about 10 years ago so it required 100% concentration.  However no words can ever fully describe that feeling of sitting in the middle of an orchestra and big band when they are at full volume.

Playing with the orchestra

So this week it’s back to business as usual including some political campaigning across Mid Scotland  & Fife, booking some Asian tours for artists next year and getting back into regular blogging.  Until next time….

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