People in the Band

Aylesbury Concert Band is a true Community Band. Its members range in age from teenagers to the over 70s, and are drawn from all walks of life, including policemen, teachers, software engineers, accountants and more, not forgetting those still at school. They willingly give up their spare time every Wednesday evening and at other times for engagements, to make music together.

However, their efforts would come to nothing without the leadership of a good conductor, and over the years the band has been very lucky to acquire the services of some very fine musicians. Below are some biographies of our past and present Directors of Music

Claire Lawrence LRSM LTCL LLCM DipTCL ARCM (PG)

Photograph of Claire Lawrence

Ray Ghent Photography

Aylesbury Concert Band's links to the RAF Music Services continue to thrive following the appointment of Claire Lawrence as Director of Music to succeed Neil Chapman. We were honoured that two members of RAF Central Band were keen to be our conductor, a position which offers them the opportunity to hone their conducting skills and further their careers. Unfortunately we could only choose one, and following auditions the Band selected Claire.

Claire Lawrence has been a member of RAF Central Band since 2004, where she plays flute and violin. After studying violin at the Royal College of Music and Trinity College she spent 9 years as a professional freelance violinist before joining the RAF, where she learnt the flute to diploma level, and studied conducting with Mark Heron and Ian Lowes. Like Neil, she has ambitions to become a Director of Music in the Air Force, and make history as the first woman to fill that role.

Robert Wicks

Photograph of Robert Wicks

Ray Ghent Photography

Robert is our Deputy Conductor. He takes rehearsals when the Director of Music is unable to be there, and often conducts the band at fêtes, as well as sharing the conducting of our concerts with the director of music. Robert originally joined the band as a clarinet player, but he has extensive experience conducting musical shows for several amateur groups, making him an obvious choice for the post of Deputy. He valiantly stepped in to conduct all the Band's engagements at the end of 2009, when Duncan Stubbs' promotion led to him being unable to come to Aylesbury, and before we appointed his successor.

As well as conducting, Robert is also responsible for keeping track of who can and cannot play for concerts and engagements and ensuring that all the parts are covered. He even finds time to play in the band sometimes!

Neil Chapman BA Hons MA DipABRSM LRSM

Neil Chapman was appointed as our Director of Music in February 2010 to succeed Duncan Stubbs. Like Duncan he is a member of the RAF, and at the time was principal bassoon of RAF Central Band. Unfortunately after barely a year he was promoted and simultaneously posted to the RAF Regiment Band in Lincolnshire. This was a huge disappointment both to him and the members of the Band, for Neil had been a popular conductor and had done much to continue Duncan's good work developing the Band and introducing us to new music.

Born in Leicester, Neil began playing bassoon at the age of eight. He studied music at Anglia Polytechnic University in Cambridge, and went on to pursue a postgraduate course at Birmingham Conservatoire. During his time as a student he studied bassoon with Ian Cuthill and Martin Gatt, and played with the wind quintet Serenata Winds, and various orchestras and bands in the Midlands.

On completing his studies, Neil spent a number of years mixing arts administration with freelance performing and teaching. In 2008 Neil was awarded an Honorary Membership of the Birmingham Conservatoire for his role in setting up the Queen's Park Sinfonia, an orchestra established to give performing opportunities to young professional musicians in the West Midlands.

Neil joined the Central Band of the Royal Air Force in 2006 and is currently co-principal bassoon. He has always had a keen interest in conducting, and has attended a course at Canford to extend his knowledge vis a vis wind bands. Most recently, he has benefited from the tutelage of Duncan Stubbs, Principal Director of music with the Royal Air Force, as part of the RAF's Continuous Professional Development Course.

When not conducting, Neil enjoys running, cycling and sleeping!

Wing Commander Duncan Stubbs BA FRSM ARCM LGSM RAF

Duncan Stubbs...

We were very fortunate to have Duncan Stubbs as our Director of Music from 2006 to 2009. Duncan is a serving RAF officer who was appointed Principal Director of Music for the RAF in November 2009. Prior to that he served as Director of Music, Headquarters Music Services, where he had responsibility for all aspects of training, budgets, allocations and administration within the Royal Air Force Music Services.

Born in Stoke on Trent, Duncan Stubbs began playing bassoon at the age of 14, gaining early experience in local orchestras and shows. He studied music at York University specialising in performance. This was followed by a year's postgraduate study in Birmingham specialising in music education. During his time as a student he studied Bassoon with Michael Chapmann, Andrew Barnell and John Orford.

He joined the Royal Air Force in 1983 as a member of the Central Band of the Royal Air Force. His interest in conducting led to work with several Community Bands in the West London area and in his hometown of Stoke on Trent. Following studies with Colin Metter, Duncan was commissioned as Director of Music, Royal Air Force in March 1990.

He has served as Director of Music of both the Western Band of the Royal Air Force and the Band of the Royal Air Force College, during which time he achieved an unprecedented 6 consecutive wins in the Boosey and Hawkes RAF Inter-Band Competitions, as well as winning the much coveted Cassel Cup on four occasions. From 2000 he served as Director of Music of the Central Band of the Royal Air Force until he moved to Headquarters Music Services in November 2006.

In addition to his service commitments Duncan regularly conducts civilian Wind bands, all of whom have achieved National status in the world of Wind Band Music, and is frequently called upon to coach junior bands. He often adjudicates at regional Wind Band festivals and he also enjoys arranging and composing. He continues to play bassoon, though preferably when no one else is listening.

When not performing music or being a doting father he can often be found giving his 'ears a rest' on top of the mountains in the Lake District

Duncan was very disappointed when his promotion meant he would no longer be able to spare the time to conduct Aylesbury Band as well. However he is keen to stay in touch, and he will always be welcome as a guest conductor. He came to conduct the band on our 2010 Development Weekend and again in 2012, and we hope to welcome him at similar events in the future.

In 2010 the Band instituted the title Conductor Emeritus to be bestowed on past Directors of Music in recognition of their exceptional services to the Band, and awarded the title to both Duncan and his predecessor, Alan Mossford (below).

Sqn Ldr Alan Mossford LGSM ARCM RAF (Retd)

Picture of Alan Mossford

Our Director of Music until 2006 was Alan Mossford. In 1996, soon after he retired from the post of Director of Music of the Central Band of the Royal Air Force, Alan took up his baton again to conduct what was then named Aylesbury Town Band. His expertise guided the huge improvement in the quality of the band over its first decade, culminating in the award of a Gold Medal at the NCBF Regional Festival in Northampton in 2006.

Born into a prominent musical family in Cheshire, England, Alan took his first formal cornet lesson at the age of seven, and after some ten years of playing in local bands and orchestras he joined the Royal Air Force Music Services in 1956. After serving with bands at home and abroad he entered the Royal Air Force School of Music as a student bandmaster in 1971, where he gained diplomas in Bandmastership and Conducting at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music, London. Alan was awarded the Silver Medal of the Worshipful Company of Musicians in 1973, and was commissioned later that year

After successive appointments as Director of Music of different RAF bands, he was appointed as Director of Music of Central Band in 1987, where he appeared with the Band and with the Massed Bands of the Royal Air Force at state occasions, on overseas tours, at major national and international concert venues, on radio, television and in the recording studio.

Since retiring, Alan has been busy as a conductor, arranger and adjudicator, he is a member of the National Association of Brass Band Conductors, and of course, director of Aylesbury Concert Band.

Although no longer the Band's conductor, his involvement with the Band hasn't ended, as he has taken up the euphonium and now belongs to the band as a playing member. However he now has more time to indulge his other passion – golf!