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London for Ceremonial

01~ January 2021

The Guards Chapel Recital Series – Beyond a Marching Band

by Sergeant Rachel Smith, January 2021

Guards Brass perform as part of the Guards Chapel Recital Series, July 2019

The Guards Chapel Recital Series celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2019. Since the series started over 100 recitals have been held featuring various ensembles from the Household Division Bands that offer a contrast to the usual marching band or concert band set-up. 

Since graduating from the Royal Northern College of Music, I have regularly given recitals across the UK with other instrumentalists. When I joined the Band of the Coldstream Guards I felt that The Guards Chapel at Wellington Barracks would be the perfect venue to create a recital series. This vision became a reality with the first of the Guards Chapel Lunchtime Recitals being held in January 2009. The series follows a schedule of 11 concerts a year on the last Tuesday of each month. Open to the general public, the series has raised substantial sums for Household Division Charities. 

The aim for the Recital Series was to showcase musicians and ensembles of the highest level from the Household Division Bands and also to offer musicians an opportunity to perform a variety of different repertoire. It has featured diverse ensembles from brass, wind and percussion, and even the “Coldstream Guards 18th Century Band”! It also inspired the introduction of the Household Division Concert Series – a series of evening concerts given by bands from the Household Division and wider British Army Music.

The Serpent being played by Lance Corporal Gareth Craik in
the Coldstream Guards 18th Century Band, Music Festival, July 2018 

I am delighted with the popularity of the Recital Series, and its success continues to rise year on year. This has been possible thanks to the assistance of my management team, the Guards Chapel staff, the talented musicians I work alongside, and of course the supportive and loyal audiences.

Following the success of the Recital Series it expanded into the Household Division Music Festival in 2017. This week-long event occurs at the end of June, and each day includes a classical recital at lunchtime in the Chapel, open-air jazz during the afternoon on the Chapel Square and then a full band concert in the early evening, with the Guards Big Band being a particular favourite. 2020 would have been the fourth year of this event however due to covid-19 all recitals concerts and the music festival was cancelled. We have already started the planning for 2021 and hope many of the lunchtime recitals and the festival events planned for 2020 will be able to go ahead this year.

Sergeant Rachel Smith DMA, BMus (Hons), FTCL is the principal flautist of the Band of the Coldstream Guards. In 2020 she received the Chief of General Staff's Commendation ‘for outstanding work to the British Army’ in recognition of her outstanding commitment to the Guards Chapel Recital Series.


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