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Regiment musicians touring the world hitting the high notes

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Banging the drum: Corporal Kallan Thomas takes centre stage while performing with the Princess of Wales Royal Band and Corps of Drums (Photograph supplied)

Two musicians have toured the world in a band performing in front of huge crowds – after joining the Royal Bermuda Regiment.

Lance Corporal Azar Morrissey and Corporal Kallan Thomas were still at school when they signed up as junior musicians with the Regiment.

And although they do have to don khaki and work as soldiers “out in the field”, they highlighted the opportunities that the Regiment gives them to pursue their love of music.

Alto saxophonist Lance Corporal Morrissey, 22, joined the Band and Corps of Drums when he was a 17-year-old pupil at The Berkeley Institute.

He said: “I was probably there for about six months when I travelled to Estes Park, Colorado, where we performed in a tattoo.

“More recently, we had an invitation from the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment band. They invited six of us to go along with them to Gibraltar to do some ceremonial performances with them.”

The Sandys resident, who is a warehouse worker for Bermuda Air Conditioning, found that he enjoyed other features of the Regiment, which is recruiting now ahead of an initial training block next month.

Making music: Lance Corporal Azar Morrissey has been performing with the Regiment for the last five years (Photograph supplied)

He said: “It’s no secret within the whole battalion that I love the other aspects of the regiment. As clichéd as it sounds, it actually prepares you for life – time management, discipline, all of that – it’s what employers are looking for.

“I have no problem going out in the field. Everybody knows that if it’s time to do the other stuff, the ‘green’ work, I’m all there for it and that provides different opportunities for me to see the world as well.

“In 2019, I travelled with the Regiment to St Vincent & the Grenadines, I’ve been in North Carolina twice and I’ve recently gone and spent around three months between London and Gibraltar.”

Lance Corporal Morrissey said he would encourage others to join the band – including people with a basic understanding of music.

He added: “It’s a great opportunity – you’re getting paid to see the world, you’re making friends all around the world.”

Corporal Thomas, 30, a drummer, was in Primary 3 when he joined a group of children who took part in music lessons at Warwick Camp after school.

In time, that gave him the chance to be among musicians not only from the Regiment but also from visiting bands.

As a Warwick Academy pupil, he joined the Bermuda Cadet Corps – now the RBR Junior Leaders – and later balanced that with his role as a junior musician, which meant he got paid to play.

Cpl Thomas said: “My first parade was the 24th of May parade, which was closely followed by my first major event – the funeral of Dame Lois Browne-Evans.”

Since then Cpl Thomas has performed in a number of tattoos. He has also played in St Paul’s and Canterbury cathedrals in the UK when he was attached to the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment band during his years as a student at the University of Brighton.

Now a teacher in training at the Whitney Institute Middle School, Corporal Thomas also teaches in his military life where he gives instruction in music, marching and other soldiering skills.

He said: “Just a passion to play is what we need, in all brass, woodwind and percussion instruments.

“It’s nothing like being with people who support you, who are enjoying something with you that you all love to do together. It’s an experience that you can’t get almost anywhere else.”

Residents aged between 18 and 50 are invited to join the RBR’s ranks by January 26 to take part in initial training, which will run from February 12 to 24.

For more information about the regiment, or to sign up, click here or call 238 1045.

Proper soldiering: Lance Corporal Azar Morrissey and Corporal Kallan Thomas pictured at the United States Marine Corps’ Camp Lejeune in North Carolina (Photograph supplied)

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Published January 16, 2023 at 7:56 am (Updated January 16, 2023 at 10:36 am)

Regiment musicians touring the world hitting the high notes

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