The Imperial Corps of Drums first saw the light of day in 1992 but it probably began as a concept in the back of a number of people’s minds long before that.
Each member of the corps has an ‘Orange ‘back ground having all been raised in that Culture in Liverpool. Consequently being in and around bands became second nature. As well as traditional ‘orange’ tunes most bands in Liverpool played many marches the men having learnt them during their wartime service in the first and second world wars and bringing them with them. Indeed a number of them where formed solely by ex-regimental Corps of drums members. The members of the ‘Imperial’ are their sons and grandsons, so you see the love of music is ingrained in them.
The amalgamation of two well-established 1st flute bands formed the ‘Imperial Corps of Drums’ at a time when membership of bands in general was slightly on the wane the two bands were ‘The Rath’ and ‘The Whitehill’ both excellent bands in their own right. From the outset it was decided that the band would be styled on a British Army corps of drums and they would strive to play full part music. This was easier said then done so they settled on first flutes only. The reason being that it was difficult at first to find full scores of music and, when they could be found, nobody in the Corps had the ability at the time to sight read so it was trial and error to try to get it right.
Especially difficult was to interpret the ‘F’ parts, and the Piccolo was well out of reach. At the same time the band felt confident enough to start entering competitions to gain as much experience as possible and to see how far they had to go to improve.
The Corps has always had a good drum section and that fact alone carried it through at first, but it was difficult.
The bands first attempts at interpreting ‘F’ parts were amateurish to say the least but they continued to persevere the band’s first band Master Brian Whitehill even enrolled with a music teacher in Southport to broaden his knowledge and the members thought it a good investment of the bands money to subsidise him. For the most part it was a success as through his efforts they began to slowly improve. At about this point the band whilst out doing a gig was approached by a gent with the name Laurie Johnston who offered to help out with the music tuition of the whole section. The benefits weren’t immediately apparent as soon afterwards the ‘band master’ lost patience and left taking two others with him.
Ever since it had been decided to go full melody playing full scores of music it had been hard to attract new members for various reasons.
Losing several of its members was a serious body blow from which it was thought it would never recover. Those that left where at pains to point out that the band was going nowhere and was finished and so it seemed. All that remained where eight Flautists and a Bass drummer who refused to give in. Laurie Johnston was contacted and told that it was still alive and kicking and asked if he would take the Musical Directors job.
Like all good stories there is a happy ending through Laurie’s tutelage musical arrangements’ and a lot of effort on the part of the members the band has increased in numbers to (1 piccolo 3 second flutes 4 F flutes 6 ‘1st flutes 4 side drummers 1 tenor drummer 2 bass drummers 2 cymbal players 1 triangle player each member of the Corps can now read music to varying degrees mostly to a fairly high standard and our learners are taught to read from the beginning.
Again through Laurie’s efforts a CD has been produced being highly acclaimed and the bands reputation for music ability dress and decorum has spread everywhere throughout the length and breadth of the UK.
This acclaim has not come easily but because of a conscious decision by the band officers under the leadership of the then band master John Forrest then onto David Halvorsen and through to Darren Irvine and present bandmaster Gordon Hotchkiss to treat all members equally. Also by trying to take all the worries about money for instruments
Uniforms etc away from them so that all they have to do is concentrate on playing and being the best they can be. If you have ever seen us or heard our CD you would agree that this policy has paid off.
2012 was our 20th Anniversary year a lot of people said we would have never went on we did and we look forward to another 20 years.
We are just about to start our new program and set list for
our next CD titled From Sandhurst to The Somme this all going well will be out for sale by June 2015 so keep an eye out on either this site or the bands Facebook page
Gordon Hotchkiss (Imperial Corps Of The Drums Bandmaster)