Roles of the RAF Music Services
When Sir Walford Davies and Sir George Dyson worked together to establish music in the newly formed Royal Air Force, they recognised the need for bands that would inspire the early airmen and give them a sense of pride in their new service.
The Central Band of the Royal Air Force was established in 1920 and since its formation has played an integral and unique role in military life and in the musical world. In 1922 they were the first military band to broadcast on the BBC. They play a vital part in State Ceremonial events, as well as performing across the United Kingdom in support of Service charities and Military Tattoos. Central Band have led several commemoration events including the RAF Centenary parade through London in July 2018 when 100 RAF musicians led the parade of over 1000 RAF servicemen and women down the Mall to Buckingham Palace.
Band of the RAF College: In 1920 Major George Dyson set RAF Music Services on a proper footing and the Band of the RAF College was formed at RAF College Cranwell where its home has been ever since. Although its primary function was to provide musical support for the college it was has since excelled and became the first ever military band to be recorded in concert, live for broadcast on Sky Arts. Now in its centenary year the band continues to perform at a diverse range of venues and engagements across the United Kingdom and in countries worldwide.
Band of the RAF Regiment: Since its formation in 1942 the Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment has boasted a proud and distinguished heritage. From Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace to live BBC Radio broadcasts, the Band continues to demonstrate its versatility and excellence. Not only does the Band tour extensively in support of British Forces overseas, but it performs many concerts in support of Service charities and has close links with the local communities around RAF Northolt.
The RAF Salon Orchestra: The RAF Salon Orchestra is a seven-piece strings and piano ensemble that performs for Royal, state, and ceremonial occasions across the UK and around the world. The Orchestra’s roots are traceable to 1937 when a number of London’s finest string players were recruited for the RAF Symphony Orchestra which found eminence in the war years. As national service came to an end, the Symphony Orchestra was significantly reduced and the Salon Orchestra was established in 1949. Today, this versatile ensemble performs in a variety of settings from intimate formal dinners to prestigious concert venues with some of the biggest names in the music industry.
Band of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force: Formation took place at Royal Air Force College Cranwell in 2015 with its first attestation in 2016. Consisting of four full time Reserve staff at their Headquarters, the other members of the Band are Part Time Volunteer Reserve (PTVR) Musicians who are contracted to a minimum of 27 days per year. The Band undertake a variety of engagements both independently and in support of the three Regular Royal Air Force Bands.
Life as an RAF Musician
InsideAIR met with Senior Aircraftman Alan Thomas, an experienced musician who parades in all weathers with RAF Music Services. Alan discusses what life is like as a musician in the RAF and what deployment is like, as they prepare for the most important events of the year - he also reveals one of their most closely guarded secrets!
The RAF Hymn
For more than a century, the RAF has not had its own hymn. But with music being such a core aspect of life in the military, it is quite fitting that during the year of Her Majesty the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee this has finally changed.