Retired Canadian Forces captain, Ronald E. J. Milne, was a guest conductor at a concert performed by the Stittsville Legion Concert Band on May 27. Milne was the guest of honour at the performance at the Bridlewood Trailed Retirement residence.

Retired Canadian Forces captain, Ronald E. J. Milne, was a guest conductor at a concert performed by the Stittsville Legion Concert Band on May 27. Milne was the guest of honour at the performance at the Bridlewood Trailed Retirement residence.

The Stittsville Legion Concert Band put on a rousing show at the Bridlewood Trails Retirement home in honour of a retired Canadian Forces captain on May 27.

Ronald E. J. Milne, best known for his band arrangements and original compositions, was also responsible for composing and arranging the music for the 1967 Canadian Armed Forces Centennial Tattoo, which included Marche Vanier .

The concert performed by the Stittsville band included three of Milne’s pieces: Canadian Sunset , Time to Say Goodbye and Marche Vanier , which Milne guest-conducted.

“That was marvellous!” said Milne, 92, after taking his bow.

“I think the band has got a great deal of promise,” he added after the concert. “They played my Marche Vanier very well.”

Aside from Milne’s compositions and arrangements, the concert band also played music from the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack, Fiddler on the Roof , a mix of popular tracks from the ’60s, a medley of songs from the Second World War, and others, which had the audience clapping along and tapping their toes to the sounds.

GOOSE-BUMPS

The May concert came about after a fateful day in December, when the dance band was performing at the retirement residence. Christine Philipson, manager of the Stittsville Legion Concert Band, noticed the name R. E. J. Milne written on a walker.

“I looked at the name on the walker and I said, ‘Capt. Milne? Capt. R. E. J. Milne?’” said Philipson, who plays the flute. “I was totally blown away.”

She had performed his pieces when she was serving with the Air Force.

She set about organizing a concert, which included three pieces arranged and composed by Milne.

“We play here as often as we can,” she said.

It was the first time Milne’s newest piece, Time to Say Goodbye , was performed. He wrote out all the music by hand for each of the five instruments that played the piece.

“That last song gave me goose-bumps,” said one of the retirement residence staff.

The Stittsville Legion Concert Band is an open group for people of all ages who enjoy playing an instrument.

The band, which is now on summer break, will begin meeting again in September on Monday evenings at 7 p.m. For more information, visit stittsvilleconcertband.com.

MILNE

Milne was born in Tooting Junction, London, England, the third of three sons, in a musical family. His father played at in the orchestra of the Paris Opera, and his mother played the piano for silent movies, as well as wrote her own pieces, said Philipson.

Milne joined the Welsh Guards Band at the onset of the Second World War and was the solo trumpet for the Guards. Post war, he created the Stargazers vocal group with friends, working with famous performers as a TV and radio act.

Among other accomplishments, he played violin in the London Symphony Orchestra, and in 1942, he was awarded first prize in the Jazz Jamboree, and Glen Miller presented Milne with his award, he said.

Milne then moved to British Columbia, directly into the military band system, with his wife Vera. After various postings, he was sent to the Canadian Guards in Petawawa, Ont., with a promotion to director of music, said Philipson.

His most prized possession, however, is a letter from Queen Elizabeth II.

“She reminded me of occasions where she met me,” said Milne, adding she told him the Stargazers were her favourite group. “(It’s) my most marvellous possession.”

In 1967, Milne completed three sets of music, and the “innovation of using static and marching musicians simultaneously, as backdrops to the gymnastic teams, gun carriage over the chasm teams, motorcycle ballet and many other displays,” said Philipson.

Once finished, Milne resigned from the military to become a music teacher in the Ottawa public school system, said Philipson. He taught at Ottawa Technical and Nepean high schools until he retired in 1986.

“(I have) too many memories,” said Milne. “Everything is a good memory.

“I had a terrific life in music. I don’t regret any of it.”