New concert band director with an illustrious musical career

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WATLINGTON Concert Band has appointed a new musical director.

Callum Rookes, 31, a professional tuba player, succeeded Ben Ruffer.

Mr. Rookes, who serves with the Central Band of the Royal Air Force, received classical training at Trinity College of Music, Det Jyske Musikkonservatorium in Aarhus, Denmark, and the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen.

He has performed in venues around the world, including Lincoln Center in New York, Tokyo Metropolitan Theater in Japan, Aarhus Symphony Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Cadogan Hall and Royal Festival Hall. During his audition, he played with the band for over three hours.

Mr. Rookes said: “I feel really excited to work with the band. When I auditioned, I had a great feeling with them and a really friendly vibe. I’m excited to see what we can do together.

He made his debut as a conductor at the Cambridge University West Road Concert Hall at the age of 16. Since then he has led ensembles such as the Band of the Coldstream Guards and the Central Band of the Royal Air Force.

Mr Rookes, who lives in Windsor, said: ‘I needed more orchestral conducting experience and roles like this are rare to find and it was right on my doorstep.

“Orchestral conducting is one of my passions and I want to make a career out of it.

“It’s like a drug – when you have regular rehearsals and you see everyone working hard and improving and growing together, it’s a very addictive feeling.

“We have opened our doors and are looking to accept more players.”

The group, which has about 25 members, rehearses at the Pyrton village hall every Wednesday from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Mr. Rookes has also performed with artists such as Tom Jones, Leona Lewis, James Blunt, Sheridan Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Bryn Terfel, Nicola Roberts and McFly.

He was selected to perform at the Royal British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall and took part in the National Act of Remembrance in Whitehall, Trooping the Colour, and the 75th anniversary commemorations of VE Day and VJ Day.

He served in the Coldstream Guards marching band until February last year and performed at major state functions such as the state visits of French President Emmanuel Macron and later US President Donald Trump and of the King and Queen of Spain.

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