Retiring Red Deer Royals Band director Rob Goring

Royals’ baton is passed

Rob Goring was only supposed to be the interim director of bands of the award-winning Red Deer Royals Concert and Marching Show Band for about three months.

Rob Goring was only supposed to be the interim director of bands of the award-winning Red Deer Royals Concert and Marching Show Band for about three months.

In May 2001, the Royals were about to go on tour to the Netherlands and Germany to compete in the Worlds for Marching Show Bands and the World Music Contest.

But when the former director of bands, Keith Mann, died in a motorcycle accident, the Royals needed someone at the helm.

Goring said he would get them through the tour but he wasn’t looking for a full-time position.

He stopped saying, “okay one more year,” about nine years ago.

Now 11 years later, his three months are finally up.

Goring will pass the conducting baton onto Michael Mann at the end of July.

His wife, Bev, a school teacher at Annie L. Gaetz Elementary School is about to retire and he wants to be at her side at the end of the school year.

Goring and Bev will spend their time travelling and spoiling their grandchildren.

The decision was not an easy one but it was time, Goring says as he watches the Royals practise at the Great Chief Park on Saturday.

Goring, 58, a former principal and band teacher in the Red Deer Public School District, said while the Royals have earned numerous awards including three World Cup gold medals and other championships, it will not be what he remembers the most about the last 11 years.

“The band has achieved very well,” said Goring.

“That’s not the stuff I will remember. I will remember the kids and how hard they worked.”

New members generally join the Royals around age 12 and stay for about five years. Goring said he will remember how they came into their own as individuals by being a member of the Red Deer Royals.

“They are ordinary kids doing extraordinary things,” said Goring, whose two children went through the Royals program in the mid-1990s.

“They are not an elite group of kids. They are just average kids in Red Deer who have done amazing things as individuals… It’s a life altering experience for these kids. They are what I will remember.”

Goring said it has been difficult for him to step back but he knows the Royals will be in good hands with Mann and the other staff members.

This year Goring did not conduct the bands this year but watched the others flourish and grow.

“I’m really confident in Michael’s ability to make it work,” said Goring.

“I’m excited about the stability of the organization and the number of new kids coming in and the leadership opportunities for these young people to step up and really make a difference.

The band has been going for 43 years and we’re probably now as strong as it ever have been.”

Mann, the son of former director, Keith Mann, is the music director of the Royals this year and has served as Royals’ interim director in 2007. He was the drum line and front ensemble lead instructor from 2004 to 2011.

He is also the band teacher at River Glen School. Mann takes his post in August.

“I didn’t see myself doing this to be honest,” said Mann.

“I saw it as an opportunity to help out the band at the time when they need a professional teacher. I kept coming back. Now it’s kinda like my own path. Once you’re here, it’s infectious.”

The Red Deer Royals are recruiting once again. Youth between 12 and 20 with at least two years on a woodwind, brass or percussion instrument, and those who are interested in joining the Color Guard section are encouraged to audition.

nformation meetings are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Westerner Park. Call Goring at 403-343-2079.

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