Royal Marine musician Ross Hunt is doubly following in his predecessor Tom Hodge’s footsteps. Ross is now doing the job which Tom did with the Royal Marines.
He is also – just as Tom was – musical director for the Southdowns Concert Band whose latest date will be at St Nicholas’ Church, Arundel on November 18 at 7.30pm.
“I have been with them for just over a year,” says Ross. “After about seven or eight years conducting the Southdowns Concert Band, Tom decided that he wanted to move on or have a break, and that coincided with him leaving the job that I have followed him into at work. He asked me to take a rehearsal with the Southdowns Concert Band, and then the next day he said ‘The band liked you. Would you be interested in doing the job because I am stepping down?’”
Generally, such outside commitments are encouraged – provided they don’t stand in the way of the day job. But this one came at a particularly-good time for Ross: “This particular job at the moment within the Royal Marines does not afford me the opportunity to do any music. I am editor of our three-times-a-year periodical, and I am in charge of all stores and other responsibilities, but it does not allow me to stand in front of a band and make music. This provides me with my weekly outlet of making music!”
And whether he is working with Royal Marines bandsmen or the enthusiastic members of the Southdowns Concert Band, the task remains pretty much the same: “If you are standing in front of a band or whoever, you have still got to treat everyone with respect when you explain what you want, why a particular sound isn’t quite what you had in mind, how things could be done differently and so on. You are still talking to human beings, and so I treat the Southdowns Concert Band in exactly the same way – though sometimes I have to remember that they are not professionals. Most of them are doing it as a hobby. I can’t demand exactly the same standard. I can’t demand extra practice. They are not being paid to do it. In fact, they are paying subscriptions themselves in order to be able to do it.
“And that’s why I always make a point of thanking them publicly in front of an audience. Some of them come to rehearsals straight from work, not having had tea. Some of them are missing putting their children to bed. But that’s the level of their commitment that they come along.”
As for the Arundel night, Ross is promising a varied programme, which is one of the reasons he so much enjoys working with the band: “I think they embrace my passion for a lot of different genres.”
Tickets from £10 are available from St Nicholas’ Parish Church Office on 01903 882262.