The Bands of the RAF In Concert Birmingham Symphony Hall 2009

Headquarters Music Services

Principal Director of Music: Wing Commander Duncan Stubbs
Director of Music: Squadron Leader Piers Morrell
Senior Drum Major: Warrant Officer Terry Gardner
Warrant Officer HQMS: Warrant Officer Tony Scannell
Recruitment and Manning: Flight Sergeant Steve McGuinness
Media and Communications: Flight Sergeant Barry Stringer

Engagements Co-ordinator: Flight Sergeant Mark Chappell
Chief Storeman: Chief Technician Andrew Chettleburgh
Training Cell Co-ordinator: Sergeant Trish Lofthouse

Under the command of it's Principal Director of Music, Headquarters Royal Air Force Music Services administers 177 professional musicians who provide musical support for the Royal Air Force at public and military events around the world.

Headquarters Music Services is located at Royal Air Force Northolt, where the administration, policy, procurement, allocations and training for all RAF Musicians is the responsibility of Squadron Leader Piers Morrell (Director of Music - HQMS), supported by his HQ staff.

The History of Royal Air Force Music Services

In 1918 Dr Walford Davies, who later became Master of the King's Music, was invited to become the first Organising Director of Music for the Royal Air Force. He quickly established the RAF School of Music to train band instructors and trumpet majors. With the signing of the armistice many of the musicians returned to civilian life, with the remainder being formed into a band at The School of Music to await further developments.

Walford Davies left the Service in 1919, taking up the newly created Chair of Music at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, but not before composing the Royal Air Force March Past (the 'trio' section of the march was added later by his successor, Major George Dyson). It was Major Dyson who, in 1920, reorganised RAF Music Services on a proper footing. The School of Music was disestablished and the Central Band of the RAF and the Band of the RAF College were formed at RAF Uxbridge and RAF Cranwell respectively.

Our primary role is to provide music for state and service events. Royal Air Force Bands have always represented the Royal Air Force at the highest level, being held in extremely high regard for their professionalism.

A considerable amount of the musicians' time is spent travelling, whether on tours in the United Kingdom or much further afield in other, more exotic parts of the world.

In 1990 the Royal Air Force became the first Service to recruit women into mixed bands and today females are recruited on the same basis as their male colleagues. They form a significant proportion of the personnel with some bands being nealy half female.

RAF Musicians are also trained to provide medical support in times of war. During the Gulf conflict musicians were deployed to various locations in the Middle East, where they undertook a variety of tasks, ranging from being medical orderlies to guards at hospital sites.

During the 1930s Royal Air Force music became well established with the two bands reputation for innovation and musical excellence. In the lead up to World War II there was a large expansion of RAF Music Services. Additional military bands were provided on a Command basis, with the RAF Symphony Orchestra and the famous 'Squadronaires' Dance Band being established. The Central Band of the RAF included some of the country's finest musicians such as Dennis Brain, Norman Del Mar and Gareth Morris.

By 1950, under the direction of Wing Commander George Sims, the bands were reorganised on a geographical basis. On his retirement in 1960, Royal Air Force Music Services boasted ten established bands, including the Central Band of the Women's Royal Air Force, numerous voluntary bands and a School of Music.

Since then, Royal Air Force Music Services has gradually been reduced in size to reach today's establishment of: Headquarters Music Services, the Central Band of the Royal Air Force (including the RAF Salon Orchestra), the Band of the Royal Air Force College and the Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment. Relationships have been built with several civilian musical organisations including the BBC Concert Orchestra and the British and World Associations of Symphonic Bands and Wind Ensembles (BASBWE and WASBWE). Each of the bands is multifarious, being capable of providing groups including saxophone quartets, woodwind and brass quintets, jazz ensembles, fanfare teams, reception bands, small cabaret marching bands, dance bands and big bands, full size parade bands and complete symphonic wind bands.

Royal Air Force Music Services remains at the forefront of the development of wind band music worldwide, and is capable of catering for all musical tastes.

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