Maidstone Wind Symphony is delighted to announce the appointment of its new Music Director, Roger Graham.
Roger was born and brought up in Gravesend and started to learn the tuba at the age of 13. After two years of lessons, he gained a place at the Royal College of Music Junior Department and shortly after became the principal tuba player of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.
He trained at the Guildhall School of Music under James Anderson and John Fletcher. After leaving the Guildhall he worked as a London-based freelance musician with some of the London orchestras, film orchestras and West End shows.
His interest in wind bands was kick-started when he began working for a music publisher specialising in concert band repertoire. When the conductor of his local band was taken ill, Roger stepped up and took the rehearsal; the reaction of the musicians was so positive that he decided to take up conducting. Since then he has been a guest conductor for a number of bands and ensembles in the South East, combining this with his playing commitments.
Roger said: “I cannot put into words how delighted I am to have been offered the position of Music Director with Maidstone Wind Symphony. I realise that with this opportunity comes the huge responsibility of maintaining the momentum and levels reached by the band under the previous MD Jonathan Crowhurst.
“As I enter this new musical collaboration with these wonderful musicians, I am sure we will drive forward and continue to develop as an ensemble. We will continue to tackle some challenging landmark concert band pieces. We will also look to form connections with highly-talented composers and seek to perform some of the newest and most exciting repertoire. Most importantly, I am sure we will have some fun!”
Roger is Maidstone Wind Symphony’s fourth music director. He succeeded Jonathan Crowhurst, who stood down from the role at the end of the band’s 20th anniversary season.
Sam Willsmore is an undergraduate in his third year at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, studying oboe with Steven Hudson, and conducting with David Corkhill. As an oboist, Sam has attended many masterclasses with musicians such as: Tom Hooten, Christopher Cowie, Carolyn Hove, Francesco Di Rosa, Olivier Stankiewicz and most recently John Anderson.
Away from Guildhall, he plays as principle oboe with Maidstone Wind Symphony, as well as supporting the Music Director and stepping in to direct when needed. He is also involved with the Southend Symphony Orchestra on oboe and cor anglais as well as being principle oboe for the Lorraine Kelly Studio Orchestra, which recently had their Royal Albert Hall debut, supporting the 2019 Music is Magic event.
Within the Guildhall School, he has performed with the contemporary Wind Ensemble, Ubu, led by professor Simon Wills, a massed double reed ensemble led by Alison Teale. He has performed with the Guildhall Symphony Orchestra under Jessica Cottis and will be performing with them again under Vassily Sinaisky in March.