The Central Band Of The Royal Air Force
Director of Music: Flight Lieutenant Richard Murray BMus(Hons) LRSM LLCM RAF
Bandmasters: Warrant Officer Terry Gardner, Warrant Officer David Richards MinstLM GCGI
Band Sergeants: Flight Sergeant Grant Charleston and Flight Sergeant Paul Craggs
Drum Majors: Chief Technician Gary Cooney and Chief Technician Mark Chappell
Music has been a part of the Royal Air Force since 1912, when the Service existed as the Royal Flying Corps. In 1918 the Royal Air Force was formed and by 1920 The Central Band of the Royal Air Force was established.
The Central Band has several notable achievements in its history. In 1922 it was the first military band to broadcast on BBC radio, remaining to this day the most frequently featured military band in that medium. It was also the first military band to make a long-playing record. In April 1955, HMV released a recording of what is to this day the most requested piece in their repertoire; Eric Coates' music for the film ‘The Dambusters’. The band also ended a 155-year tradition in by including women in its ranks whilst taking part in the ceremony of Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace.
Over the years the Central Band has made many recordings. ‘Salute To Heroes’, released in 1990, sold over 60,000 copies in two years, resulting in the award of a silver disc. Two complementary recordings, ‘Heroes of the Air’ and ‘Salute to the Royal Air Force’ have proved just as popular. As one of the premier military bands in the United Kingdom, the Central Band is always in great demand, undertaking more than 370 engagements a year and travelling a distance of more than 64,000 miles, representing the Royal Air Force at every major military event and performing at all of the principal concert venues in Britain.
The band is also internationally renowned, having the distinction of being the first band outside the USA to be awarded the 'John Philip Sousa Citation for Musical Excellence'. In its bid to remain at the cutting edge of wind band music it has given highly acclaimed concerts with both the British and the World Associations of Symphonic Bands and Wind Ensembles (BASBWE & WASBWE). More recently the band has forged links with the Royal Northern College of Music, the Guildhall School of Music, the London College of Music and Thames Valley University.
Amongst past tours to Holland, Belgium, Germany, Hong Kong, USA and Hungary, in 2005 the band found themselves in Australia to take part in Sydney’s ‘Edinburgh Tattoo’. Later in the year, another Tattoo took the musicians of the Central Band to Moscow, Russia.
The Central Band was heavily involved in the 2008 celebrations for the 90th Anniversary of the Royal Air Force. Aside from the normal busy schedule the band performed an Anniversary Concert Tour throughout the UK, carried out public duties at Buckingham Palace alongside the Queen’s Colour Squadron and provided musical support to the Royal Standard and Colour presentation by Her Majesty, The Queen at Royal Air Force Fairford.
As with all members of the Royal Air Force Music Services, Central Band musicians are required to support British forces on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Musicians continue to be deployed as ‘force protection’, guarding installations and supporting helicopter and air transportation squadrons.
Changing times have necessitated new recruitment and training policies but, despite reductions in numbers, standards remain exceptionally high. Our aim remains to reflect the excellence for which the Royal Air Force has become renowned over its distinguished history.
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