La Musique du Royal 22e Régiment strikes positive chord as first woman takes up the baton

Portrait of Warrant Officer Mélanie Crépeau as band conductor, wearing the Canadian Armed Forces ceremonial dress.
Warrant Officer Mélanie Crépeau, percussionist and band conductor. Photo: Sergeant Kevin Fleming

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By Corporal Myriam Beaulieu

Last fall, Warrant Officer Mélanie Crépeau became the first female conductor for La Musique du Royal 22e Régiment since the band’s creation in 1922, marking a new chapter in the band’s history.

For her big début, WO Mélanie Crépeau led the band in a performance of “Danza Sinfonica” by American composer James Barnes on tour in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean in October 2017. She also conducted the band on parade during a graduation ceremony in Valcartier on November 21.

Originally from Drummondville, Que., WO Crépeau began learning percussion at École secondaire Jean-Raimbault. She continued her musical studies at Cégep de Drummondville, McGill University and Laval University. She enrolled in the Primary Reserve in 1996, and transferred to the Regular Force two years later, where she joined the ranks of La Musique du Royal 22e Régiment.

Her promotion as Warrant Officer sent her to the Central Band of the Canadian Armed Forces in Ottawa between 2008 and 2011. In 2017, she took a basic conducting course at the Canadian Armed Forces School of Music in Borden, Ont. This course, which involved four months of training, proved to be important for the advancement of her career. WO Crépeau saw an opportunity to contribute to her band in a new supportive role.

Already invested in her work (as a percussionist, but also in her secondary duties and band social club involvement), her new skills allowed her to take on even more responsibility. Conductors lead an ensemble, presenting an overall concept of the band and repertoire.

Despite some hesitation to dive in and learn new concepts, WO Crépeau appreciates the experience she gained while training in Borden. “The course is well laid-out,” she said. “There was a lot of time to practice in front of a real band, in concert and parade formations, with input from the teachers. This allowed us to develop a certain amount of finesse very quickly.”

She not only feels pride being the first woman to conduct the band, but also found it rewarding to push herself outside of her comfort zone. She considers herself privileged to conduct an ensemble as stimulating as La Musique du Royal 22e Régiment.

We wish her all the best for her future, and here’s to more great opportunities for women in the Canadian Armed Forces!

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