Richmond soldier comes third in Army Musician of the Year contest

Musician Aaron Chilton.

A Richmond soldier has come third in the prestigious Army Musician of the Year contest.

20-year-old Aaron Chilton has been playing the drum since he was five years old but the Army has expanded his instrumental range.

As a percussionist with the band of the Coldstream Guards he is required to be an expert in all percussion instruments, from snare drums to bass drums, bells to gongs.

He wowed the judges today with his performance of Zimba Zamba by Goff Richards on the marimba and won £150 and the admiration of his fellow musicians.

The marimba is a type of xylophone but has a much more mellow tone and blends beautifully with orchestral instruments.

The competition stretches the musicians, encouraging the team players to step up and perform solo, on instruments and music that may be far from their comfort zone.

Dr Emilie Capulet, head of classical performance at London College of Music at the University of West London joined the Household Division’s senior director of music, Lieutenant Colonel Simon Haw, and Major General Chris Ghika to judge the competitors and select the overall winner.

“We’ve had some stunning performances from these young musicians” said Dr Emilie Capulet.

“As judges we were looking not just for technical skill but for character, passion and a performance that convinces, that transports you to another space and time. There were some very special moments in the competition today, which I really enjoyed.”

“I’m very pleased to have won a prize – it’s actually unbelievable” said Aaron, who faced tough competition from the brightest and best from the world-famous Bands of the Army’s Household Division.

“The musicians are most usually seen on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace or at Windsor Castle accompanying troops about to Change the Guard.

“Everyone in the competition played so well at a very high standard,” said the Corps of Army Music soldier.

“Going forward this win has given me a lot of confidence. There’s always room for improvement though, so I’ll keep working hard.”

Major General Ghika congratulated all the competitors for their bravery in performance.

He said: “Often in the military we perform as a team, as a band, supported by all those around us, but today was about you as an individual and it takes real courage to stand out here exposed and alone in front of judges and an audience.”

You’ll be able to see and hear Aaron performing at The Queen’s Birthday Parade in June when he’ll be performing with the Massed Bands on Trooping The Colour. The event is shown live on BBC1 and broadcast globally.

The top prize of £500 was today awarded to Countess of Wessex’s String Orchestra Violinist Musician Ewelina Wozniak, 32, from Krakow, Poland, who gave a spellbinding performance of Lalo’s ‘Spanish Symphony’.

Second place and a prize of £250 went to musician Kataizyna Kucharczak, 28, from Posnan, Poland, who performed Human Error by Derek Brown on Saxophone.

Musician Florence Robinson-Plain, a trumpeter from the Band of the Household Cavalry, placed fourth.


  1. Thankyou for writing this piece. I am Aaron’s mum. It’s wonderful to have the recognition brought back to Melsonby and Richmond where so many people follow his career in the Band of the Coldstream Guards.

  2. Congratulations Aaron. You are a great example of the Army’s outstanding young musicians. Your success is down entirely to your hard work and dedication. A long career with the malletts is ahead of you. Second to None!

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