Facts & Figures
Who We Are
The Countess of Wessex's String Orchestra (CWSO) is comprised of musicians from The Royal Corps of Army Music and is one of 14 Regular Army Bands in the British Army. Based in Woolwich, its main roles include performing for investitures and ceremonies at the Royal households, including state banquets and dinners.
Although string playing can be traced back as far as 1762 with the Orchestra of The Royal Artillery, the CWSO is taking this genre forward with the inclusion of electronic string instruments and small ensembles specialising in modern genres, appealing to audiences of all ages.
The orchestra has recently travelled to Pakistan and Turkey, performing at some of the most fantastic venues.
Highlights from recent years include performing at the 75th Anniversary of D-Day in Portsmouth with world leaders in attendance, and the annual Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall. The orchestra was also fortunate enough to take part in the VE75 events at Buckingham Palace, performing with many celebrities.
Want to join us?
The Royal Corps of Army Music can offer full time employment as a musician within the British Army. A pensionable career potentially to the age of 60. Fantastic travel opportunities with the chance to perform at great venues and events around the world.
The Royal Corps of Army Music is interested in your performance and potential rather than just music qualifications.
Not all musicians have recognised musical qualifications so you may be able to join us based on merit at audition. If you have the required skills or can demonstrate you have the potential we are looking for, we can help maximise your musical development. Interested? Please get in touch here.
Playing Cello is my passion, I get to play it full-time in the Army. LCpl Calef
Lance Corporal Calef - Cello
Lance Corporal (LCpl) Adrian Calef learned the cello in Bucharest, Romania, where he was born. He studied at George Enescu Music School before going on to the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester to complete both an undergraduate and postgraduate diplomas in performance. After graduating, he spent the next few years as a freelance musician, working with various orchestras around the country. These included Halle, BBC Manchester, Opera North, as well as trials with RTE Dublin, Welsh National Opera and The Philharmonia.
Having joined British Army Music in 2010 he is now the Principal Cellist in the Countess of Wessex’s String Orchestra, having also served in the Irish Guards Band as a clarinetist and cellist until 2014, when the CWSO was formed. During this time, he has toured Canada as part of the Spruce Meadows Tour, Germany, played at the Olympics in 2012, Her Majesty The Queen's 90th birthday celebrations in Windsor, VE Day, VJ Day, and Short-Term Training Team in Jordan.
LCpl Calef said, “The Army is a great place to find yourself. You find out what you’re good at, what you need to work on, you discover new things you like and are often supported to pursue them. I have thoroughly enjoyed mountain biking in Germany, and skiing in Austria and France on Adventurous Training".
I joined British Army Music for the many fantastic opportunities on offer. Musn Moon
Musician Moon - Viola
Musician (Musn) Grace Moon is a viola player in The Countess of Wessex’s String Orchestra and has served for two years in the British Army.
Musn Moon was born in Bromley, Kent and began studying under Sven Tepl at the Junior Guildhall School of Music & Drama. She went on to study modern music at Brunel University London and received viola tuition from Paul Silverthorne, professor of viola at the Royal Academy of Music. Musn Moon has toured extensively across Europe as principal viola of the Thames Youth Orchestra and was part of a recording project for an Art Institute film.
When asked about her reasons for becoming a British Army musician, Musn Moon said, “I joined British Army Music for the many fantastic opportunities on offer and to broaden my horizon in music.”
Her career highlights include performing Ahrirang (a famous Korean folk song) as a solo, playing the National Anthem for The Queen’s Christmas Speech and performing regularly at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle investitures. However, Musn Moon mostly enjoys being a part of the Countess of Wessex’s String Orchestra and said, “We are a close family and I love being part of the team.”
British Army Music is recruiting right now. For more information about joining the British Army as a musician, get in touch with the Corps Engagement Team.