Dear Minister Enstrom,
As the Royal Australian Navy’s 8th Director of Music (2002 until 2012) I was given significant freedom of manoeuvre, which gave me the confidence to develop the band’s reputation as a world-class musical ensemble and showcase it at home and abroad, ashore and afloat. I was truly fortunate at that time to have had so many highly competent musicians and sailors of great calibre to help raise the band’s banner high and who attended to Navy’s musical and ceremonial duties with flair and authority. In many ways the Royal Australian Navy Band and the Royal Swedish Navy Band are similar—they have great people who are worthy ambassadors for their country, they have an enviable reputation for excellence throughout the world, and they have a proud record of service to their nation.
As the Director of the Royal Australian Navy Band I was intimately aware of the depth of musical service other bands from around the world had provided their nation, and at the forefront of world military music was the Royal Swedish Navy Band. I was fortunate to enjoy the privilege of conducting the Royal Swedish Navy Band during a visit to Sweden in 2012 and I attended a concert by the band at the Royal Palace last year where they performed an impressive repertoire of classical and military music composed by Swedish musicians.
I am deeply saddened to learn that a decision guided and formed by the Swedish Armed Forces Music Centre may result in the demise of an organisation that has such a proud record of service to its nation and Navy. I wish the officials from the Swedish Armed Forces Music Centre every success in their efforts to reform Swedish military music, and I do understand the many challenges they face; but I implore those responsible for making the proposed changes which will be devastating to the men and women of the Royal Swedish Navy Band and detrimental to the culture of Swedish military music, to consider sharing that burden of reform more fairly across the entire military band organisation.
Music culture provides food and energy for the soul and also contributes to higher economic growth in society. I sincerely hope that the Royal Swedish Navy Band will have many more years of service to their nation and will be able to continue to provide an example of musical excellence throughout the world.
P. C. ANDERSON OAM
16 January 2014