Over the years we have been lucky to enjoy the leadership of many fine musicians, and each has inspired and developed the Band in their own way. Below are some biographies of our past and present Directors of Music:
- John Brown, Director of Music 2021 to 2022.
- Callum Rookes, Director of Music 2020 to 2021.
- Robert Wicks, Director of Music 2014 to 2019.
- Claire Lawrence, Director of Music 2011 to 2014.
- Neil Chapman, Director of Music 2010 to 2011.
- Duncan Stubbs, Conductor Emeritus, Director of Music 2006 to 2009.
- Alan Mossford, Conductor Emeritus, Director of Music 1996 to 2006.
John Brown BMus (Hons) LRAM DipABRSM LLCM DipLCM
We were pleased to welcome John Brown as our conductor and Musical Director in September 2021. John was born and educated in Belfast, Northern Ireland. In 2005 he graduated on a scholarship as a flautist from the Royal Academy of Music, London, where he studied with Michael Cox and Clare Southworth. He has also received tuition from Sir James Galway, William Bennett and Ian Clarke.
At 16, he was a woodwind finalist in the RTE Irish Musician of the Future, and in 2008 was the winner of the Clandeboye Irish Young Musician of the Year. He has given solo recitals in the Wigmore Hall, London, National Concert Hall, Dublin and has played professionally with the Ulster Orchestra and National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. He has been privileged to play with such artists as Sir Colin Davis and Sir Elton John throughout his performance career.
In 2010 John joined the Central Band of the Royal Air Force primarily as a flautist. He was the winner of the RAF Annual Soloist competition, which awarded him the honour of playing as a soloist in most major concert venues in the U.K. He has enjoyed tours of Basel, Canada, Cyprus, New Delhi, and Washington, D.C. In 2015, after a battle with Focal Hand Dystonia, he then became a Bass Clarinettist. On this instrument, he has also led the Central Band Clarinet Quartet.
Having always had a passion for conducting, he left the RAF in 2020 with a DipLCM in the discipline. He then transferred to the Royal Corps of Army Music to pursue his ambitions of being a Bandmaster. In 2021 he completed his studies on the British Army Bandmaster Course with Rob Wiffin, where as part of his training he had the privilege of conducting the Band of the Scots Guards, British Army Band Tidworth, British Army Band Sandhurst and the Band and Bugles of the Rifles.
John has a passion for fitness and nutrition and is a qualified personal trainer. He lives in central London with his partner and two Persian cats.
Unfortunately his time as our conductor was cut short when in 2022 the army in their wisdom decided to post John to a band too far away from Aylesbury for him to continue in the role. This was very disappointing both for us and for John
It was very unfortunate that Callum Rookes’ tenure as our conductor was abruptly interrupted when the Band had to suspend rehearsals for more than a year because of the covid pandemic. During this long hiatus, Callum had opportunities to pursue some exciting new projects, and unfortunately for us the demands on his time meant he felt unable to continue as our Musical Director.
Callum’s journey into the dark art of conducting has been an unconventional one. Picking up the baton at the cock-sure age of fifteen, it soon became clear that he had a natural affinity for conducting, always excelling in his conducting exams at Trinity College of Music.
He soon started picking up directorship of many bands and orchestras. Whilst in Denmark he became the MD of the Vejle FDF brass band whilst having a fruitful life as a freelance conductor. Simultaneously, he was invited to conduct and coach the Cambridge Youth Wind Orchestra in the UK; an engagement he continues to this day.
In 2014, on his return to London, Callum became the Musical Director of the Thame Concert Band where he reenergised, rebuilt, and transformed the band, successfully growing the band from an enthusiastic twelve, to a band of thirty-five. He also built their audience base from a modest few, to a hall of hundreds. Callum continues to push the TCB, and is proud to lead them for their annual “A Last Night At The Proms” Concert.
Shortly afterwards, Callum became the Musical Director of the Sound Force Big Band in High Wycombe, which he held until January 2018 when he went on to become the principal conductor of the London People’s Orchestra, the Enfield Film Orchestra, and the The Highgate and Muswell Hill Brass Band; positions he held until late 2019 when Callum decided to audition, and consequently win the audition to be the Musical Director of the Aylesbury Concert Band, following in the footsteps of it’s previous esteemed conductors such has Claire Lawrence (former Band Master, Coldstream Guards Band), Duncan Stubbs (former Principal Director of Music, RAF Music Services), and Rob Wiffin (former Principal Director of Music, RAF Music Services).
Callum also gives masterclasses to other ensembles in the UK seeking fresh ideas for their playing. Most recently, Callum was invited as a guest conductor to the Woodwind Orchestra Playday, London, 2020, alongside James Rae, and Paul Harris, where he led a total of seventy-seven musicians.
In August 2014 we broke with the recent tradition of selecting a member of the RAF Music Services as our Director of Music and invited Robert Wicks to step into the Role. Robert had previously been our Deputy Conductor for nearly 8 years. He first joined the Band as a clarinet player, but his extensive experience conducting musical shows for several amateur groups made him an obvious choice for the post of Deputy. Initially this just required conducting an occasional rehearsal when the current Director of Music couldn’t be there, but over the years the role expanded into being virtually a co-director, sharing the conducting in concerts with the chief conductor. 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. So when Claire Lawrence had to leave us at short notice his experience and his knowledge of the Band made him the obvious candidate to fill the post.
Robert was born in Northamptonshire. He has worked in many areas of the country working with a wide range of performers, from professional companies to award winning amateur societies. He has worked as a Conductor, Singing Coach, Musical Director and a Musician including several Regional Premieres. As a musician, Robert played with many of the local concert bands and orchestras in Northamptonshire before being relocated in 2004 and joining Aylesbury Concert Band.
In 2013, Robert toured with Talkwood Productions working as Musical Director for a production of A Christmas Carol, The Musical which finished with a 3 week run at The Charing Cross Theatre in London.
When not taking part in musical activities Rob enjoys skiing (though preferably not not just before a concert) and socialising with friends.
Claire Lawrence LRSM LTCL LLCM DipTCL ARCM (PG)
Aylesbury Concert Band’s links to the RAF Music Services continued following the appointment of Claire Lawrence as Director of Music to succeed Neil Chapman in 2011. 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 studied at Trinity College of Music and the Royal College of Music. She then worked as a freelance violinist for 8 years, playing in many touring shows and with orchestras such as the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Welsh National Opera. The life of a freelance musician is a precarious one, however, and in 2004 she decided to join the Royal Air Force.
As a member of RAF Central Band she not only played flute and piccolo but also appeared often with the Band as a violin soloist. During her time in the RAF Claire took advantage of every opportunity to study conducting, composition and arranging. In 2012, having completed all the courses available through the RAF Music Services, she started a part time masters degree, majoring in conducting.
Then in 2014, almost as much to her own surprise as everyone else’s, she jumped at an opportunity to transfer to the army and go straight to the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall on a one year Bandmaster’s course. At the end of the course she will be a Staff Sergeant bandmaster with good prospects for promotion. Sadly this meant she had to resign at short notice as Director of Music of Aylesbury Concert Band, but we have not seen the last of her as she is keen to come back for future PlayDays and Band Development weekends.
Neil Chapman BA(Hons) MA LRSM DipABRSM
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, which at that time was based at RAF Cranwell 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
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)
Alan Mossford died in 2019 shortly before his 81st birthday. During his time as our Director of Music he worked tirelessly to develop the band to one which could win a gold medal at the Midlands Regional Concert Band Festival in 2006. Safe to say without him the band wouldn’t be what it is today.
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!