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Director of Music

The Director of Music talks about his recent assignment to the Band of the Welsh Guards.

The Director of Music talks about his recent appointment as
Senior Director of Music Household Division (SDOM)

Following the retirement of Lieutenant Colonel Hopla, the Director of Music of the Band of the Welsh Guards (Corps of Army Music) has been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and has taken on the prestigious appointment of Senior Director of Music Household Division (SDOM).

Throughout the band’s hundred-year history there have only been ten Directors of Music - four of which served in the appointment as Senior Director. 

In this brief interview we discuss the role of SDOM and ask Lieutenant Colonel Roberts for his thoughts on his new appointment and his plans for the future.

Lieutenant Colonel Roberts, firstly many congratulations on your appointment!

Thank you very much. I certainly feel honoured to have been selected for this appointment and greatly look forward to my time as SDOM.  Even from the very early stages of my career I had a strong interest in State Ceremonial and so to have been appointed to this prestigious role is a very proud moment.

Can you explain the role of SDOM within State Ceremonial?    

DOM is responsible for all musical output within London District and is the Subject Matter Expert to the General Officer Commanding London District.  He is also the Technical Officer Commanding the six Household Division Bands.  The bands of the Household Division perform a huge number of State Ceremonial and Public Duties every year, to audiences ranging from several thousand to international audiences of many millions. It’s vital that our level of musical support to these events is consummate with the high-grade reputation of the UK. 

Does the role of SDOM just include the Household Division?

During high profile State events the role of SDOM is not only to control and direct the musical forces of the Household Division Bands but also those of all external regiments and services, such as the Royal Marines and the Royal Air Force.

Is the role of SDOM a relatively new development?

There has been an SDOM for well over a hundred years. The first was Lieutenant Colonel Mackenzie-Rogan of the Coldstream Guards (1896-1920) who is attributed with transforming the face of military bands as a whole and raising the standards of the Guards Bands in preparation for the funeral of Queen Victoria, in 1901.  It was Mackenzie-Rogan who laid the foundation for the worldwide reputation enjoyed by the Household Division Bands of today.

Having now taken over, what is your immediate focus?

As always, the major ceremonial events of the year require a great deal of attention.  We are representatives of UK PLC on the international stage and if we consider that London leads the world in high profile State Ceremonial events, the performance of our bands needs to be outstanding.  Each of our bands is already in training for the coming ‘season’ and the annual Spring Drills - an intensive period of drill training, musical training and kit inspections, culminating in an inspection by the Major-General - have been completed by all of our bands.  Rehearsals for both the Queen’s Birthday Parade and Household Division Beating Retreat are already well underway and planning has started for major concerts, such as the Scarlet and Gold Concert at the Cadogan Hall in December. 

What are your long-term plans for the role?

Well, it’s obviously very early days and I very much need to focus on the huge number of major events that we will undertake over the next few months.  Looking further ahead, I am keen to ensure that performance-events such as Beating Retreat and the Scarlet and Gold Concert continue to grow and develop as a way of enthusing our musicians and maintaining our reputation.  This year’s Beating Retreat ‘Waterloo Remembered’ features over 600 participants and is already on its way to being a sellout event – although a limited number of tickets are still available through the Ticketmaster website.  I am keen to develop Scarlet and Gold as an even bigger showcase of out finest musicians and am hopeful that we can take it to an even larger audience in the future.

Finally, what are your thoughts on being SDOM in the band’s Centenary year?

For any band, major anniversary years are a busy, demanding and very exciting time and the Welsh Guards have certainly pulled out all the stops this year.  Performing at the Six Nations rugby match in Cardiff was a particular high for the band, as was the partnership between the Band of the Welsh Guards and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama where we recently produced a joint concert that presented the 100-year history of the regiment.  There are still a large number of centenary events to come, with two of the real highlights of the year being the Presentation of New Colours by Her Majesty The Queen and Trooping the Colour.  To be SDOM for these events is a very special privilege indeed and, in the case of the Presentation of New Colours, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

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