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
Musichas been a part of the Royal Air Force since 1912, when the Serviceexisted as the Royal Flying Corps. In 1918 the Royal Air Force wasformed and in 1920 the Central Band was formally established.
Inits short history The Central Band has achieved several notablefirsts. In 1922 it was the first military band to be broadcast on BBCradio and is still the most frequently featured military band in thatmedium. More recent popular broadcasts have included alive concert broadcast on BBC Radio 3 from the Queen Elizabeth Hallin London’s South Bank Centre and in May 2012 they celebrated 100years of military aviation and music with a special broadcast on BBCRadio 2’s ‘Listen to the Band’ program. They also played aleading role in celebrating the 70thAnniversary of the Dambusters with a performance on BBC Radio 2’s‘Friday Night is Music Night”.
Alongsidethis broadcasting success, the musicians of the Band are also wellrecognised for their recording prowess. Beginning in 1955, when itbecame the first military band to make a long-playing record with therelease of Eric Coates’ 'TheDambusters March' (HMV),the Central Band remains at the forefront of Military Band andcontemporary Wind Ensemble recording. The recent critical and popularsuccess of “Reachfor the Skies”(Decca Records), and their collaborations with composer Nigel Hess on“New London Pictures”(Chandos) and Euphonium Soloist Steven Mead on his CD “Diamonds”,stand as firm testament to their ongoing commitment to musicalexcellence and diversity.
The Central Band is also at theforefront of many State and Ceremonial events. In another notablefirst, in 1986, the Central Band ended a 155 year old tradition byincluding women within its ranks whilst 'Changing the Guard' atBuckingham Palace. In2011, the Fanfare Trumpeters from the Central Band performed at whatcould be described as one of the biggest ever TV events, The RoyalWedding.
The Central band was also in thepublic eye during the 2012 Olympics. There they entertained audiencesat many events including Tennis, Canoeing, Road Cycling and BeachVolleyball.
Eachyear the Central Band of the Royal Air Force performs in excess of580 engagementsand travels more than 45,000 miles. Withinthe United Kingdom the Central Band enjoys supporting severalcharitable organisations. Most notable is their partnership with theRAF Charitable Trust Enterprises, with whom they undertake an annualconcert tour covering a dozen cities and several of the country’smajor concert halls. The band continues to build strong links withinBritain’s musical community. The Band has presented several highlyacclaimed concertsfor the British and the World Associations of Symphonic Bands andWind Ensembles (BASBWE & WASBWE) and for the RoyalWelsh College of Music and Drama. The links forged with tertiaryeducation providers are especially important as the Band recruitsmany of its musicians directly from the major Colleges andConservatoires.
Aswell as performing the length and breadth of the United Kingdom, theCentral Band maintains a strong international presence. Inanother first, it has the distinction of being the first band outsidethe USA to be awarded the 'John Philip Sousa Citation for MusicalExcellence'. Inrecent years the band has given performances in Holland, Germany,Russia, Poland, Hungary, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, India, Australia,Canada and the USA.
Asmembers of the RAF, Central Band musicians are required to supportBritish forces on operations abroad. Musicians are being deployed inroles as diverse as detainee handlers in Afghanistan, Watchkeepers inIraq and ambulance drivers in the Falkland Islands. But, whether weare working as musicians or medics, our aim remains the same - todisplay, in our conduct and performance, the excellence for which theRoyal Air Force has become renowned over its distinguished history.
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