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  • Writer's pictureMartin Zeilig

Captain Chris Embree

The Commanding Officer and Director of Music for the RCAF Band, Captain Chris Embree, has worn the uniforms of all three branches of the Canadian Armed Forces.

According to Capt Embree, this is something unique to the CAF, depending on the band to which we are assigned.

"This is my second stint as an officer in an Air Force uniform. My first time was at the Borden Music School for four years."

Even so, music remains music, no matter what uniform you wear.

Captain Embree, a native of Winnipeg, has assumed his current position since July 13, 2021. His predecessor was Major Matthew Clark, who moved to the CAF’s Logistics School at CFB Borden.

In 1988, Capt Embree joined the Kings Own Calgary Regiment Band as a primary reservist.

His official bio states that Capt Embree transferred from the Primary Reserves to the Regular Force in 1991 after winning an audition on alto saxophone.

Capt Embree joined the Air Command Band in Winnipeg after completing a year and a half of saxophone training. Capt Embree was promoted to Corporal in 1993 and completed his Junior Leadership Course a year later.

Upon completion of his course, Capt Embree was released from the Regular Force as a result of the Forces Reduction Plan and transferred back to the Tecumseh Naval Reserve Band in Calgary.

Because of his previous Regular Force experience, Capt Embree was promoted to Master Seaman in 1995.

His involvement in the Calgary music scene included

performances with Banda Fiebra Latina, a favorite among Latin communities, and Blues Land featuring the Cold Sweat Horns.

Upon re-auditioning for the Regular Force in 1998, Capt Embree was assigned to the Royal Canadian Artillery Band in Edmonton and subsequently promoted to Sergeant.

Capt Embree completed his Intermediate Leadership Qualification in 2006, and in 2008, after serving for ten years with the RCA Band and Army of the West, he was posted to the Naden Band of Maritime Force Pacific and promoted to Petty Officer 1st Class.

Upon completion of the QL7 Conducting Course, Capt Embree was assigned as the Bandmaster of the Brass & Reed Volunteer Band at 14 Wing Greenwood.

In just 11 months Capt Embree was promoted to Master Warrant Officer and posted to The Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston as the Band Officer.

Upon completion of the Music Officer Course in Borden, Capt Embree was subsequently assigned to the Canadian Forces Logistics Training Centre Music Division as the Officer in Charge.

Capt Embree returned to the Royal Canadian Artillery Band in 2016 as its Commanding Officer and Director of Music.

In addition to performing in and leading the massed band during the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Games, he served as Director of Music for the Queen's Guard twice in London, UK, and conducted the Sunset Ceremony at the 100th Anniversary Commemoration of Vimy Ridge in France.

Under Capt Embree’s leadership the RCA Band received the Colonel Commandant of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery Unit Commendation, the 3rd Canadian Division Commander’s Unit Commendation and most recently received the Colonel Commandant of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery Commendation for outstanding achievements in support of the Royal Regiment.

"My father was a musician in the CAF as well," said Capt Embree.

"He played the flute. Saxophone is my main instrument."

Although the band size remains the same as it was at CFB Edmonton, he has two trained vocalists now, Warrant Officer David Grenon and Sergeant Cindy Scott, and a "fantastic" guitarist in Sergeant Parizeau.

This allows me to have smaller ensembles like Jet Stream and the Rock Band (The Spitfire Kings)," Capt Embree added.

Furthermore, he noted that the band here is more of a show band compared to the regiment army band in Edmonton.

“Coming out of COVID, it’s been difficult to do music live in person,” said Capt Embree.

"Two years ago, that was shut down. Several projects were done

by individual musicians recording themselves and putting them together to create a product that was released via social media. This group of musicians is fantastic.”

“We’re just getting ourselves back to normal here after dealing with COVID. They know that I ask a lot of them. They’re working hard right now, and I’m looking forward to making music with them moving forward.”

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