The combined bands of the naval reserve divisions of HMCS York (Toronto) and HMCS Star (Hamilton) in the Cathedral Church of St. James, Toronto. Photo Jack MacQuarrieThroughout the year 2017 the programming focus for community musical groups was Canada’s sesquicentennial year, with concert repertoire focused on almost any music which might have some connection to the development of Canada during the previous 150 years. By the end of that year, most bands had pretty well exhausted their library assets for music sesquicentennial connections. Then came 2018 with no similar focus in the first part of the year, except the perennial question about repertoire for concert bands: “Who are we trying to please, the audiences, band members, the conductor etc.?”

There were the usual budding composers waiting to be heard and, always, old-time favourites which might attract the largest audiences to help swell the band’s precarious coffers.

The 11th day

Towards the end of 2018, though, many groups turned their attention to another significant anniversary in the year: November 11 of this year, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice to end the First World War.

Having spent some time in the Navy, it was only natural for me to gravitate towards a November 10 Navy band concert commemorating that occasion: the combined bands of the naval reserve divisions of HMCS York from Toronto and HMCS Star from Hamilton performing “A Festival of Remembrance” in the Cathedral Church of St. James in Toronto.

The program for this concert was one of the most appropriate that I have ever experienced. Every number was either music that might have been performed during that wartime period or was written to commemorate a significant event of the war. Since the WWI battle most commemorated by Canadians is the Battle of Vimy Ridge, it was fitting that the opening number was Thomas Bidgood’s march Vimy Ridge. Much of the program was divided between such works as Songs From the Great War, Boys of the Old Brigade and Abide With Me and major orchestral pieces by composers who were at their prime during the period of WWI. These included three composers who were British-born: Ralph Vaughan Williams, Edward Elgar and Gustav Holst.

There were also some other top-quality marches, which rarely get their due these days. Although community bands, in general, had their origins in town bands – which traditionally played in parades – many community bands nowadays have never played in a parade. In fact, with some bands, marches are considered somewhat beneath their dignity, and are never included in programs. Fortunately, in this concert, such was not the case. The marches included here, other than Vimy Ridge, were all composed by Kenneth Alford (1881-1945), often referred to as “Britain’s March King.” Each was chosen because it was written to commemorate a particular event in WWI. The Middy and On the Quarterdeck were both written to commemorate the Battle of Jutland in 1916. The Vanished Army was dedicated to the first 100,000 British soldiers lost in WWI, and Voice of the Guns was to honour the regiments of the Royal Artillery in the British army.

Alford and Dunn

The name Kenneth Alford was actually a pseudonym for Major Fredrick Joseph Ricketts, bandmaster of a Royal Marine Band. This was common practice because, in those days, members of the British Armed Forces were not permitted to earn any income other that their regular military pay. Some years after Ricketts left the Royal Marines his position was filled by Major F. Vivian Dunn, bandmaster of the Royal Marines Portsmouth Division.

When the Canadian National Exhibition first opened after WWII, the featured band on the main bandshell was that Royal Marine Band from Portsmouth with Major Dunn conducting. As a student with a very rewarding summer job, I was in charge of operating the sound system on the Main Bandshell. When I first introduced myself to Major Dunn, his first question was “Can you read music?” When I answered in the affirmative, before each of the two daily concerts Dunn would spend a few minutes with me, going over the scores to ensure that there would be proper microphone pickup. Shortly after, Dunn became Lt. Col. Sir Vivian Dunn KCVO OBE FRSA, principal director of music Royal Marines. After he left the Royal Marines, Dunn became conductor of a number of top orchestras in Britain.

A few days after that November 10 Navy Festival of Remembrance concert, I still had an ear-worm: I couldn’t get the melodies of Vimy Ridge out of my head. The cure was to play a recording of it. Having written a review for The WholeNote a couple of years ago of a CD containing Vimy Ridge, the remedy was at hand so I played it, only to find that the very next number on that CD just happened to have been written by none other than Major F. Vivian Dunn: The Captain General, written in 1949 shortly after his stint at the CNE.

(The honorific “Captain General,” by the way, is the title bestowed on the ceremonial head of the British Royal Marines. This particular march was written to mark the occasion in 1949 when then Captain General, none other than His Majesty King George VI dined with Royal Marine officers at the Savoy Hotel in London. Since then the appointment has been held by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and, since May 14, 2018, Prince Harry.

Bugler’s Holidays

The evening before writing this column I attended a concert in London by the Plumbing Factory Brass Band under Henry Meredith, very curious to hear the three tubas performing Leroy Anderson’s famous Bugler’s Holiday. My reactions were mixed. As for technique, the performance by the three tubists of the band was excellent. As for personal enjoyment, I would still prefer to hear the staccato components of this music with the crisp attack of a trumpet rather than the broad tonal base of a tuba. It was also, as usual, a great example of the theatrical imagination that “Doctor Hank” Meredith brings to his programming.

One selection on the program tied in well with my comments earlier about marches: Le pére la victoire (Father of Victory), written by French composer Louis-Gaston Ganne (1862-1923) during the Napoleonic Wars. Ganne was a leading composer and conductor at that time. His Marche Lorraine written in 1892 for national gymnastic games became a battle song for the Free French during WWII.

Still on the topic of bugles, though, the recent Armistice ceremonies have triggered one of my occasional grumbles, namely the butchering of bugle calls. In the week prior to, and on Armistice Day itself, I heard many “bugle calls,” but none played on a bugle. They were all played on trumpets. A trumpet has the same pitch as a bugle, but certainly does not sound like a bugle. A proper bugle has a unique mellow tone which cannot be simulated by a trumpet. This may sound a bit strange to some people, but to me it does not work. To me, using a trumpet to substitute for a bugle is akin to using a motorcycle to substitute for a horse in a dressage ceremony. Proper bugles are not that expensive. Why can’t each military unit (and similar organization) obtain just one bugle to be used on such occasions?

Shifting into Christmas mode

Now that Armistice ceremonies are over for another 11 months, most bands are shifting into Christmas mode, a shift that brings them into close alignment (and in many cases joint concerts) with some of our top community choirs. There is a natural continuum between bands and choirs: from the pure pleasure of the process to the thrill of performing to high levels of professionalism.

There will be several such joint concerts in the coming weeks. Look for them in the listings and in the Band Quick Picks below.

BANDSTAND QUICK PICKS

DEC 2, 3PM: The York University Wind Symphony directed by Bill Thomas present a concert of various classical works at Tribute Communities Recital Hall, York University.

DEC 3, 7:30PM: Resa’s Pieces, all three ensembles in “Holiday Concert” at York Mills Collegiate.

DEC 7, 8PM: Etobicoke Community Concert Band “Classic Christmas” with Jean Augustine, reader; Andrew Scott, guest MC. Etobicoke Collegiate Auditorium.

DEC 8, 7:30PM: University of Toronto Wind Symphony in concert. Fucik’s Florentiner March; Weinzweig’s Deep Blues from Out of the Blues, Glazunov’s Concerto for Alto Saxophone in E-flat Op.109, Tull’s Sketches on a Tudor Psalm, Ticheli’s Postcard, and other works. MacMillan Theatre.

DEC 8, 4PM: Weston Silver Band’s annual “Yule Sing!” Sing along with Timothy Eaton Memorial Church’s Choir School and Sanctuary Choir. Timothy Eaton Memorial Church.

DEC 8, 7:30PM: The Barrie Concert Band A Christmas Fantasy”. Do They Know It’s Christmas?, Huron Carol and film music from How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Polar Express, and Nightmare Before Christmas; Collier Street United Church (Barrie).

DEC 11, 7:30PM: Silverthorn Symphonic Winds “Christmas Soiree”. A one-hour program of favourite Christmas delights. Free refreshments and conversation with the musicians after the concert. Wilmar Heights Event Centre Concert Hall.

DEC 11, 7:30PM: Hannaford Street Silver Band’s “Christmas Cheer” with host and tenor soloist Ben Heppner and the Elmer Iseler Singers. Metropolitan United Church.

DEC 15, 7PM: The Salvation Army North York Temple Band, joined by the Amadeus Choir, present their “Christmas Spectacular”. Works by Willcocks, Rutter, Venables, Graham, Balantine. Tyndale Chapel.

DEC 16, at 2PM: The Borealis Big Band will stage “A Big Band Family Christmas Concert”. Seasonal favorites along with jazz charts by Brubeck, Lopez, Toombs, Stevie Wonder and others. Gord Shephard, conductor. Newmarket Old Town Hall (Newmarket).

DEC 16, 2PM: The Festival Wind Orchestra. “A Fireside Christmas”. Big Band Showcase, Mary Poppins Medley, Argentum, Gypsy Dance from Carmen. Also seasonal favourites and a Christmas carol sing-a-long. Isabel Bader Theatre.

DEC 22, 4:30PM: Christ Church Deer Park & North York Temple Salvation Army Band present “Joy to the World: A Community Carol-Sing”. Christ Church Deer Park.

Jack MacQuarrie plays several brass instruments and has performed in many community ensembles. He can be contacted at bandstand@thewholenote.com.

In last month’s column I made reference to the upcoming Rebel Heartland celebration at Fairy Lake Park in Newmarket. Ergo: now we can report on what took place. As a starter, the weather could not have been better with a moderate temperature and a bright blue sky. Fairy Lake Park’s three gazebos (one large with two smaller ones immediately adjacent) provided an ideal location for musical performances. On the large gazebo we had the current Newmarket Citizens Band, somewhat scaled down to fit within their venue. On the smaller gazebos, three different ensembles made up of members of the main band performed. One was a brass ensemble roughly representative of the early 1800s. The other two were a flute ensemble and a clarinet group, including alto and bass clarinets.

Unless the organizers had been prepared to spend enormous amounts of money to ensure absolute accuracy and authenticity of all costumes and displays, this event inevitably was going to have some items that could not qualify as characteristic of the period. There were interesting anomalies, some more apparent than others. First was the makeup of the band: well-dressed in a wide range of period costumes, almost half of the band members were women, something town bands in the 1830s would not have permitted. In general, women were not allowed to play in such bands until the mid-1940s. I remember well when the first girl was permitted to play in the University of Toronto Band in 1947. It was some years after that when the first female player appeared in a military reserve band in this country.

Other anomalies: some distance from the band there was an encampment of tents with all the occupants in period costumes. Immediately adjacent were all of their late model automobiles, with nary an 1837 model in sight! Also, whereas at such a concert in the park any time in the 1800s people would be sitting close enough to the band to hear well, that was not necessary here. A powerful sound system with speakers located throughout the park made it possible for the audience members to select a listening location of their choice.

Perhaps the most interesting anomaly for me was a gentleman dressed from head to toe in the greatest of sartorial splendour including an elegant top hat, an elegant impression that was a bit shattered when I noticed that he was speaking to someone on a 2018-model cell phone and had a modern plastic water bottle close at hand.

Anomalies or not, it was an excellent day to be reminded of some very important times in our history.

“Perhaps the most interesting anomaly for me was a gentleman dressed from head to toe in the greatest of sartorial splendour including an elegant top hat, an elegant impression that was a bit shattered when I noticed that he was speaking to someone on a 2018-model cell phone and had a modern plastic water bottle close at hand.” Old Instrument Donations Enrich Young Lives

In recent months I have been hearing of a number of varied programs to provide musical instruments for children in various parts of the world, including Canada. In a number of cases I am still waiting for responses to my requests for information, but here’s an interesting one.

Local bass clarinet and saxophone player Michael Holdsworth grew up in suburban London (England) in the austere 1950s, attending a secondary school with an extremely limited music program and a budget to match, and no band. In his words, when the music teacher proposed starting a small brass group, there was only enough money for one trumpet and one trombone.  As luck would have it, there was another high school nearby, which was not under the same monetary restraints, that was replacing all their old pre-war instruments, and were happy to give them to Mike’s school.

Their senior shop teacher took on the repair challenge and soon the euphonium, baritone and tuba were ready to play. Mike took the baritone. “It was the start of a lifetime of musical adventures,” he says. “The door had been opened, and I learned firsthand that those with the tenacity and desire to help others and share their love of music can indeed make a difference.”

After a move to Canada, and a 20-year hiatus from music, his musical interest was rekindled and he now plays in several musical organizations in the GTA, from concert bands to symphony orchestras and musical theatre. In his words: “Making music has been the most rewarding pastime I have had in my life, and all this started with a secondhand old B-flat baritone horn.”

Over the past few years, Mike has been able to spend a few weeks each winter in his favourite Mexican destination, Puerto Vallarta. A few years ago, he decided to take his clarinet with him. Somewhere, he reasoned, there would be a group of musicians who would welcome a stranger into their midst. In the centre of Puerto Vallarta is a small square with the rather grand name Plaza de Armas (Parade Ground). In the centre of that square there is a bandstand where the Municipal Band of Puerto Vallarta entertains the public two nights a week.

One evening, while listening to a concert, Mike noticed that there was a man in the band who looked like he was a bit of an outsider, not the least because he was not dressed in the all-white uniform everyone else was wearing. When Mike spoke with him, he discovered that this man, Bob, was from Ontario! Bob introduced Mike to the band leader Raul, and, just like that, Mike was invited to play with them. He soon discovered what an incredibly talented group they were; all are professional musicians and music school graduates. From them he also learned of the importance of music to the community. “The City of Puerto Vallarta, and, as far as I can gather, Mexico generally, is committed to encouraging all young people to take part and to put public money into these efforts.”

Next thing that caught Mike’s eye was a March 8, 2018 article by writer John Warren in the Vallarta Tribune, an English-language newspaper, about an upcoming performance of the Puerto Vallarta Orchestra School (OEPV), in which Warren wrote “Now in its fifth year, the OEPV has transformed the lives of many children in Puerto Vallarta. The aim of the cultural project is to reduce social problems, crime and addiction by providing free musical education and social development to children who would otherwise be unable to afford it.” The results have been impressive. “The International Friendship Club (IFC) has supported the OEPV since 2014 as part of the club’s emphasis on helping Mexican children reach their potential. Altogether, the OEPV is teaching almost 300 children the joy, teamwork, discipline, concentration and co-operation that come from learning music and, at the same time becoming good citizens.”

One of the major challenges facing the Puerto Vallarta Orchestral School is obtaining musical instruments, and this is where things came full circle for Mike. “The cost of labour in Mexico makes repairing things far more viable than in, say, Toronto” he says. “Many instruments that we might discard because of the cost of repair here in Canada can be repaired and reused in places like Mexico.”

Mike’s primary focus so far has been aimed at the more affluent schools in the Greater Toronto Area, and thanks to a generous donation of instruments by Upper Canada College, the process has begun. “Anyone with old instruments in the attic or garage that they know will never realize any real cash might wish to consider donating them to the children and young members of OEPV.” 

To this point Mike has received instrument donations including nine clarinets, six flutes, two bassoons, one alto sax, one tenor sax and one French horn (from Upper Canada College). An additional two flutes were received from individuals not associated with the school. Beyond donations of instruments, though, shipping costs are also a significant challenge. The total cost of shipping this first batch was $900 which was donated by a friend who also spends time in Puerto Vallarta in the winter. The initial shipment went directly using UPS and was $600. It arrived in three days. The other two shipments went using Chitchats Shipping and in total cost $300. It took four weeks but arrived intact.

For Mike it’s simple. “You can help improve a life through music!” he says. If you have any questions, comments, or, in particular, appropriate contacts in GTA schools, you may contact Mike at instrumentsforoepv6@gmail.com. For information regarding the OEPV, check their Facebook page – facebook.com/oepuertovallarta/ or website – oepv.org/web.

As mentioned earlier, I am still waiting for responses to my requests for information from a number organizations with similar projects. I know someone who is working on a similar project for South Africa, and have heard of another person collecting old instruments for children in Cuba. Stay tuned.

Prize for playful programming

November 21, 7:30pm. Henry Meredith of The Plumbing Factory Brass Band, sent the following: “In their 23 years of entertaining Southern Ontario audiences, the Plumbing Factory Brass Band has been noted for performing eclectic repertoire that exemplifies all kinds of brass music, ranging from A to Z,” he writes. “However, this concert will focus on a single letter of the alphabet – the letter B! That is ‘B is for BRASS.’” As an example of their diversity the band’s Basses, also known as the Tuba Mirum Trio, will be featured playing Leroy Anderson’s Bugler’s Holiday. I certainly don’t want to miss hearing three tubas perform that trumpet number. ... BEautiful, BEguiling and BEdazzling Music to BE presented by London’s Plumbing Factory Brass Band at Byron United Church , 420 Boler Road (@ Baseline), London.

BANDSTAND QUICK PICKS

NOV 4, 3PM: The Hannaford Street Silver Band presents “Cascades” with guest Carol Jantsch, tuba; Jean-Michel Malouf, conductor. Jane Mallett Theatre, St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts,

NOV 5, 7PM: The Toronto Artillery Foundation presents “Lest We Forget.” Toronto Artillery Foundation Band; John McDermott, tenor. Yorkminster Park Baptist Church.

NOV 24, 7:30PM: Silverthorn Symphonic Winds open their season with “Out of This World.” Their musical journey will include Astronaut’s Playlist, Superman and Moonscape. This takes place at Wilmar Heights Event Centre – Concert Hall, 963 Pharmacy Ave, Toronto.

NOV 25, 3:30PM: The Wychwood Clarinet Choir will celebrate their tenth season with “Clarinet Bells Ring.” Highlights will include Schubert’s Shepherd on the Rock featuring Michele Jacot as clarinet soloist, Appalachian Folk Carol with guest soprano Christina Haldane and Holst’s St. Paul’s Suite.

NOV 30, 7:30PM: The Newmarket Citizens’ Band will combine with the York Harmony Chorus for the finale of their “Comfort and Joy” concert.” The theme for the evening will be “Christmas on Broadway.” Old Town Hall, Newmarket.

DEC 7, 8PM: The Etobicoke Community Concert Band presents “A Classic Christmas.” Etobicoke Collegiate Auditorium.

Jack MacQuarrie plays several brass instruments and has performed in many community ensembles. He can be contacted at bandstand@thewholenote.com.

As I sit down to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) the darkness outside does not mean that it is bedtime. In fact, it is only just after dinner. The reality is that the autumnal equinox is upon us. It is time to reflect on the musical happenings of the past few months and peer into our crystal ball for details of what’s ahead in our musical world. As for the past few months, with few exceptions, no outstanding musical activity took place which was not mentioned in our September column.

Rebel Heartland: one exception will have passed into history by the time this issue of The WholeNote is available for reading but is worth revisiting. It was the participation by the Newmarket Citizens Band in Rebel Heartland, a 2018 re-enactment of the 1837 Upper Canada Rebellion, in which the Town of Newmarket played a vital role. The re-enactment, like the writing of this column, just happens to have been programmed for this equinox!

The Bayham-Richmond Band, part of the Baseball and Brass Bands exhibit at the Elgin County Museum until December 22. COURTESY OF ELGIN COUNTY MUSEUMBaseball and Brass: Another noteworthy event which will be over before the end of September was a concert of period brass music on authentic instruments by the Cottonwood Brass, relating to an exhibition called “Baseball and Brass Bands,” which will run all the way to the December 22 solstice! Not surprisingly, Henry Meredith of Plumbing Factory Brass Band fame had a hand in things! Working over the summer with Michael Baker, the curator of the Elgin County Heritage Centre, they have mounted an exhibition featuring lots of period brass instruments, photographs of area brass bands, plus other materials from Meredith’s collection and from the Elgin County archives. Included is a PowerPoint presentation about Meredith’s involvement in providing the instruments for Disney’s movie remake of The Music Man, along with a filmed lecture demonstration about all kinds of musical instruments, particularly lip-vibrated aerophones.

Swing Patrol: One very special recent event for me was a small birthday party for Bunny Graf: not a band event, but with very important band connections. During World War II one of the army entertainment groups in Europe was called Swing Patrol. One of its key members was musician and arranger Eddie Graf; one of the dancers was a young lady named Bernice O’Donnell, known by her friends in the show as “Bunny.” At some stage in their travels through Belgium and Holland, Eddie and Bunny discovered each other, and they were married on New Year’s Day 1946. When released from the army they settled in Toronto where Eddie continued his musical career as an arranger and big band leader. His musical talents came to the fore with such programs as The Juliette Show. Bunny became a dedicated stay-at-home. This party was hosted by son Lenny Graf who has followed in Eddie’s footsteps as a band leader, soloist and children’s entertainer.

Coming Soon

The Canadian Band Association (CBA)-Ontario have just announced this fall’s Community Band Weekend. It is being hosted by the Nickel City Wind Ensemble in Sudbury over the weekend of October 13 and 14. These Community Band Weekends offer attendees an opportunity to meet musicians from many bands and to experience a fun-filled and challenging weekend practising music all day Saturday. Some of the music will be familiar, and some not. Then on Sunday afternoon, all attendees will perform in a massed band concert. For information go to: cba-ontario.ca/cbw

In The Future

Barrie Concert Band: Looking into the future, there are a few more bands which have plans for anniversary events of various forms. One of these is the Barrie Concert Band, under the direction of Peter Voisey. They have announced their plans to celebrate the band’s sesquicentennial in 2019. Founded in 1869, the 55-member band claims that theirs is the longest running musical organization north of the Golden Horseshoe. Beginning with its 16th annual “Veterans’ Salute” on October 16, the band will present various concerts throughout the coming year, in Barrie and across Simcoe County. Their 2018/2019 subscription series will begin with “A Christmas Fantasy” on December 8, and will continue with their “Last Night at the Proms” on March 2. Winding things up, in collaboration with the King Edward Choir they will present “150 years – Let’s Celebrate!” Saturday, June 1. In this final offering of the series, a number of previous conductors will share the baton with Mr. Voisey, directing the band in numbers which had personal significance to them at the time they were at the helm. In that performance internationally acclaimed tuba player, Mark Tetrault, will make a guest appearance and Rick Pauzé, the band’s immediately previous conductor, will conduct a work of his own, commissioned by the band for this anniversary year.

Icing on the cake, the band will also host a special 2019 spring CBA Community Band Weekend June 14 to16. The band conferred with the CBA for permission to hold it in June 2019, as part of their 150th celebrations. They are hoping to hold the Sunday afternoon concert portion of the CBA weekend outdoors, and reasoned that October would be too cold to do so. So the Sunday afternoon concert will take place at Meridian Place, Barrie’s newly designed and refurbished public space in the heart of downtown Barrie on the waterfront. For more information go to the band’s website: barrieconcertband.org

Waterloo Concert Band: Another significant anniversary event now in the planning stage for 2019 is one by the Waterloo Concert Band. The year 2019 will be the centenary of “Professor” C.F. Thiele’s arrival in Waterloo and his legendary three decades of leadership of the Waterloo Concert Band (formerly Waterloo Musical Society). My personal recollections of Professor Thiele go back to the days when I played in a couple of boys bands in Windsor. During the summer months we were off to play in a small town tattoo or similar event almost every weekend. Many of those included some form of competition where we played before one or more adjudicators. Of those, Professor Thiele was the adjudicator whom we feared most.

So far, what we know is that The Waterloo Concert Band has plans underway for a major historically focused public concert on May 5, 2019. Included in those plans will be at least one new musical commission. There will also be a number of, as yet undefined, other retro events around this occasion. As Pauline Finch, our contact with the band, says: “We’re aware of growing interest in band history in Ontario and especially in pivotal figures like C.F. Thiele, who built the foundations of band culture across Canada.” Hopefully we will have much more detailed information on these anniversary events as we get closer. In particular, we hope to have much more information on Professor Thiele’s legacy in Canada’s community band world. When he arrived in Waterloo a hundred years ago the Waterloo Musical Society was already well established, having been performing since 1858. So, this celebration is not a band anniversary, but a Professor Thiele celebration. In the mean while we will be paying some visits to the band’s website:
waterlooband.com.

Colin Jones

I am very saddened to report on the passing of euphonium player Colin Jones. Although I originally met Colin through our joint association with the Royal Naval Association, over the years I learned much more about him through the band world. Colin joined the Royal Navy in Portsmouth in 1950. Although most bands for British naval establishments and ships were Royal Marine Bands, there were a few Navy Bands. Colin served in one such band, The Bluejacket Band, in Portsmouth as well as aboard the aircraft carrier HMS Indefatigable and the battleship HMS Vanguard. He left the Navy in 1955 and arrived in Canada in 1958. He played for a brief stint in the Cobourg Kiltie Band. In 1970 he joined the Concert Band of Cobourg and was a stalwart member until the time of his passing. To quote words from his obituary: “As a fantastic euphonium player his contributions were enormous musically.” He also gave freely of his time to make sure that the band hall was always in tip-top shape physically. He will be missed. 

Bandstand Quick Picks

OCT 14, 2PM: The Markham Concert Band presents “Heroes and Villains.” Flato Markham Theatre. Blvd., Markham.

OCT 16, 7:15PM: The Barrie Concert Band presents “Veterans’ Salute.” Royal Canadian Legion Branch 147, Barrie.

OCT 26, 8PM: Etobicoke Community Concert Band. It’s “Don’t Look Under the Bed.” Music for Halloween at Etobicoke Collegiate Auditorium.

OCT 28, 2PM: The Orillia Silver Band presents “Fall Harvest.” Gravenhurst Opera House.

OCT 28, 3PM: The Peterborough Concert Band has their “160th Anniversary Concert” with Peter Sudbury, music director. Market Hall Performing Arts Centre, Peterborough.

Jack MacQuarrie plays several brass instruments and has performed in many community ensembles. He can be contacted at bandstand@thewholenote.com

During 2017 it seemed that most community ensembles focused their programming on music which, in some way or other, related to the fact that it was Canada’s sesquicentennial. This year, when we took our usual WholeNote summer break for July and August, focusing on anniversaries seemed to have tapered off somewhat. Then, out of the blue, we learned of two very special anniversary-themed events in the region.

Anglo Canadian Leather Company Band

The first of these events was in Huntsville to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the arrival in town of Herbert L. Clarke to take on the leadership of the Anglo-Canadian Leather Company Band. The company, also known as the Anglo-Canadian Tannery, was, at that time, the largest tannery in the British Commonwealth. Charles Orlando Shaw, an American businessman who had built the Bigwin Island Resort, moved to Huntsville, bought the tannery and built it to prominence.

As it happens, Shaw, who had also been a keen cornet player in earlier years, discovered groups of tannery workers getting together to make music in their off time. For Shaw it sparked the idea of getting back to his playing cornet again after having abandoned the instrument for some years. Over a period of time a band gradually developed. After a while the tannery workers were given free musical instruction and time off to practise. Then at some stage, he purchased an old school building and had it converted to a band hall.

In those days many companies sponsored company bands, so it was not that surprising that Shaw, a keen amateur musician, would want a top company band. What was unusual was the lengths he was prepared to go to to improve the band. It is reported that within a few years, money was no object when it came to buying instruments or hiring instructors; as a result, 100 years ago, the Anglo-Canadian Band was considered the “best industrial band in North America.”

But Shaw wanted a big name in the music world in his band. In the early part of the 20th century it would be a rare band concert which did not include significant solos to highlight the dazzling talents of the soloist. Therefore, it was not surprising that Shaw, a cornetist himself, sought out a top cornetist for his band. Luckily one was close at hand.

In the decade from 1910 to 1920 one of the world’s most renowned cornet virtuosos was Herbert L. Clarke. Clarke’s father was choirmaster, organist and bandmaster of the band at Jarvis St. Baptist Church in Toronto. Clarke was a member of the band of the Queen’s Own Rifles, touring the world as a featured soloist with leading bands of the day. Yet, after many years as featured soloist with the band of John Philip Sousa in Washington DC, in 1918 Clarke was lured to Huntsville, Ontario by Shaw to be the leader and featured soloist with that band. The sum that Clarke was paid was anything but typical – amazing, in fact, for the year 1918 – rumoured to be somewhere between $15,000 and $18,000 per year!

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Clarke’s arrival in Huntsville, and as a tribute to the Anglo-Canadian Leather Company Band itself, two special band concerts titled “Brilliance” took place in late July. Since I had other musical commitments elsewhere, I was not able to attend, so I am deeply indebted to my friend Barrie Hodgins, who was there. Barrie provided me with more information about the concerts than I can do justice to here, including the program and a copy of a 40-page booklet about the history of the band, compiled in 1986, Huntsville’s centennial year, and containing many programs and photographs of the band from as early as 1915, and numerous reviews of the band’s performances from the Toronto Daily Star and The Mail and Empire.

This year’s 100th-anniversary program featured concerts on July 21 and 22 in Huntsville’s Algonquin Theatre, under the direction of Neil Barlow with a core group from the Muskoka Concert Band, augmented by some 30 talented musicians from other parts of Ontario and the USA.

Herbert L. Clarke’s personally annotated Arban Method BookAs one might expect, the featured solo number was for a cornet solo. In Clarke’s day the standard method from which brass musicians honed their craft was Arban’s Tutor. (Author Jean Baptiste Arban was a virtuoso cornetist and teacher in Paris.) To this day, over 100 years, later Tutor is still the preferred method book; and perhaps the most popular all-time solo work for cornet is Arban’s variations on the traditional Italian work The Carnival of Venice. Since Clarke was noted for his performances of Carnival of Venice, I thought that this might be the solo selection, but I should have realized that, at this concert, the solo work would be a Clarke composition. It was Clarke’s From the Shores of the Mighty Pacific, performed by Robert Venables, one of the top freelance cornet and trumpet players in Canada, best known in the local band world for his work with the Canadian Staff Band of the Salvation Army and with the Hannaford Street Silver Band.

Robert VenablesThe Anglo-Canadian Leather Company band was officially formed in 1914 just before war broke out. For six years this band was the feature at the Canadian National Exhibition at a time when most feature bands were, more often than not, highly paid professionals. By 1926, Shaw realized that he would not be able to raise his great dream band to the even higher status he aspired to, and the band was broken up.

Rebel Heartland

In another form of anniversary event, over the weekend of September 22 and 23, the Newmarket Citizens Band will be joining in “Rebel Heartland,” a 2018 re-enactment of the 1837 Upper Canada Rebellion, under the auspices of a committee, comprised of the Newmarket Historical Society, Heritage Newmarket and the Elman W. Campbell Museum. Some of the events will be in the downtown core and some at Fairy Lake Park.

Established in 1872, the band has a long history in the community and was thrilled to be asked to participate in this historic re-enactment in their hometown.

On Saturday morning, the band will be part of the drama on Main Street, where the rebels recruit followers at the Farmer’s Market and William Lyon Mackenzie makes a rousing speech encouraging armed rebellion against the colonial government. On Saturday afternoon a battle re-enactment will take place at Fairy Lake Park. This will be followed by the capture, trial and subsequent “hanging” of rebel leaders, Samuel Lount and Peter Matthews, in front of the Old Town Hall.

On Sunday, social life in the colony will be on display at Fairy Lake. There will be demonstrations, church services, a boxed lunch social and entertainment. That’s where the Newmarket Citizens Band comes in again. Clothed in period dress, the band will host daily concerts showcasing music that would have been familiar to residents of the day. In addition, the concerts will also include smaller ensembles, to represent how music was commonly shared in the community in 1837. For more information go to newmarketcitizensband.ca

Seasonal Changes

Here it is almost fall, and that means seasonal changes for some bands. For the Uxbridge Community Concert Band, a summertime-only group, Saturday, August 25, was the final concert of their 2018 season. Last year the band’s founder and music director Steffan Brunett took a year away to travel and to study composition. With no one to take the helm, there was no band in 2017. Now, after a year’s hiatus, the band has a well-organized committee in place to share the administrative load. Brunett can now concentrate on his job as artistic director. As a simple but effective example: rather than place the whole load of collecting and filing the season’s music on one person, the band has an “End of Season Music Sorting Party”.

As previously reported, there are also seasonal changes in the air for New Horizons Bands. After many years at the helm, Dan Kapp, founder and director of the Toronto groups, has retired and moved to Wolfville Nova Scotia with his wife Lisa. Now settling in, he already has New Horizons plans for Wolfville, and also intends to study composition at Acadia University.

With his departure, the Toronto New Horizons groups now have an executive committee with Randy Kligerman, a member of the original Toronto NHB at the helm as president, and with a number of conductors. Head of education, and director of the senior band, is Donna Dupuy, who may be contacted at nhbteducation@gmail.com. As in past years, they will have an open evening for prospective band members. Previously billed as “The Instrument Petting Zoo,” this year the event is being called “The Instrument Exploration Workshop.” It will take place at Long and McQuade’s Bloor Street store on Thursday, September 13, at 6:30. These workshops are for those who have never played an instrument and for those who currently play an instrument, but would like to try playing a different one, bassoon to piccolo, in a fun, non-stressful environment. For more information go to newhorizonsbandtoronto.ca.

Having started a few years later than in Toronto, The New Horizons Band of York Region, with Doug Robertson at the helm as conductor, will be starting their season in a similar fashion. Their “Test Drive a Musical Instrument” event takes place on Thursday, September 6, at 7pm at the Cosmo Music store in Richmond Hill. Come out and “test-drive” 17 different instruments. Experienced players from the NHBYR as well as Cosmo Music staff will be on hand to help you get a sound out of any of the 17. Regular music classes begin the week of September 10. For more information contact nhbyrdirector@gmail.com.

Yet another band starting up, after a summer break, is Resa’s Pieces Band. Started 20 years ago by Resa Kochberg, Resa’s group’s evolution over the years has been different from that of the New Horizons groups. Rather than a number of concert bands rehearsing at different levels, Kochberg, over time, started different kinds of groups. Now, there are also the Resa’s Pieces Strings and Resa’s Pieces Singers, sometimes performing separately, and sometimes jointly. For more information on all these groups contact conductor@resaspieces.org.

Jack MacQuarrie plays several brass instruments and has performed in many community ensembles. He can be contacted at bandstand@thewholenote.com.

A few months ago I mentioned a trip to Ukraine by Bob Gray, a local band conductor, teacher and trumpet player. What he learned on that trip inspired him to pay another visit, with two primary goals in mind. The first was to investigate the feasibility of start-up brass bands in Ukraine during his eight-week stay in Kiev. The second was to be there for the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Salvation Army’s ministry in Ukraine. In a recent email from Kiev, Bob reported on how things are going there, and unfortunately his first goal is not working out as easily as he had hoped. The idea was to investigate the feasibility of establishing new brass bands there. However, at present, there are no Salvation Army bands in Ukraine to use as models. Since there is no tradition upon which to build, there are no qualified leaders or instructors already active within the Salvation Army organization, making it difficult for some of the congregations to sustain and support the start and development of any band. Other setbacks: he has also learned that their music for worship in Salvation Army services differs greatly from the rest of the Salvation Army world. There are no brass band arrangements of the songs used there. Even for Christmas, the carols used in many places elsewhere differ from those familiar and popular in Ukrainian culture.

His second purpose for his extended trip will likely have a happier outcome. He will be there for the celebration of the 25th anniversary of The Salvation Army’s ministry in Ukraine. This event will take place on the weekend of June 8 to 10 in Victory Park and Hotel Bratislava. For this occasion, the Salvation Army band from Winton Corps, in Bournemouth, England will be participating. Bob has been asked to sit in with that band, as one of their cornet players is unable to make the journey to Kiev. It is the hope that the activities of this well-established band will stir some interest in resurrecting the brass band movement within the ranks of the Salvation Army in Ukraine. We wish him every success, and hope to hear of the establishment of new bands there in the near future.

Strings Attached

From messages about all-brass music thousands of miles away, we move to news about all-strings music right here in town. We have just heard from Ric Giorgi about the next concert of the Strings Attached Orchestra, their final concert for this year on June 3, again at the Isabel Bader Theatre. As usual, the program was designed to span a wide spectrum of music from such classics as Handel’s Arrival of the Queen of Sheba and Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto No.6 to Ashokan Farewell and the Best of ABBA.

The Plumbing Factory

Speaking of all-brass bands, we also just had a message from Henry Meredith of the Plumbing Factory Brass Band where he referred to the “devastating and relentless winter” we’ve all just been through. Rather than paraphrase what he said, here is his musical response to Mother Nature, verbatim: “Because of the ice storms only a week before our ‘spring’ concert, and the snowstorm on the night of our dress rehearsal, the PFBB has now decided to expand our concert season into the late spring and early summer. It is hoped that this will make it easier on both us and our audience, not to have to battle the weather to prepare and enjoy our brass band music. So we have decided to keep rehearsing, and to develop a brand new concert for you, to be performed on June 27.”

In typical Henry Meredith style, he outlines the program in one of his poems.

This little rhyme will explain the reason
Why we established a new summer season
It also provides a few hints about
The music which you will enjoy, without doubt.

The concert, “Summertime Musical Adventures” (June 27, 7:30pm at Byron United Church, 420 Boler Rd., London), will include such band favourites as Ringling Bros. Grand Entry, Barnum and Bailey’s Favorite, Bernstein’s Candide and The Whistler and his Dog by Arthur Pryor.

A Musical Movie

Something entirely new appeared on my radar screen recently: a Russian-Canadian film production company that is in the process of making a documentary about Benny Goodman’s historic tour of the USSR in 1962. Now, over 55 years later, this story is still alive in the minds of people who remember those concerts of the jazz orchestra of Benny Goodman, those “strange” but incredibly attractive American musicians. They remember the joy of buying scarce tickets and enjoying music, and screaming “encore” up to ten times. The whole world as we knew it was struck by the headline at the time. “The King of Swing Benny Goodman Plays Yankee Doodle Dandy on Red Square.” Certainly Russians had never seen anything like that before.

This full-length feature film, Trojan Jazz, will retell the events of the exchange of talented musicians between the US and the Soviet Union. The anticipated appeal is to jazz enthusiasts in both English- and Russian-speaking cultures. The concept of Trojan Jazz likens the Benny Goodman Orchestra to members of a Trojan horse that brought Western jazz culture into an isolated Eastern jazz culture. The impact was unpredictable. Jazz musicians of both cultures exchanged written ideas, which began a collaboration second to none.

Julian Miklis (at left)Local concert clarinetist Julian Milkis, son of former TSO concertmaster Yasha Milkis, is cast as Benny Goodman. Milkis actually studied with Goodman while attending the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. He can be seen in a variety of ensembles recreating some of Goodman’s hit songs.

To illustrate the Goodman legacy of playing big band music continuing to this day in community groups around the world, the producers wanted to show such a group in rehearsal So, all of a sudden, one evening a few weeks ago, I and my bandmates found ourselves being bombarded by bright studio lighting and surrounded by at least a half-dozen cameras. The Toronto-based rehearsal band Swing Machine, of which I have been a member for many years, was chosen and filmed to exemplify this ongoing tradition. There we were many years later, still enjoying the performance of big band music. We haven’t heard anything of when or where this movie might be seen, but I am told a visit to https://firstjazztourinussr.com will provide more in-depth information as the project develops.

Mikhail Sherman

A few weeks ago, at a regular rehearsal of the Swing Machine Big Band, I looked across at the saxophone section. The usually very reliable baritone saxophone player, Mikhail Sherman, was missing. We later learned that he had decided to have a nap before leaving for the rehearsal, but never woke up.

Born in the USSR, Mikhail grew up with a love of music in a country famed for great classical musicians. After serving time in the army and playing in a military band, he went on to become the principal clarinet and saxophone player for the famed Moscow State Circus, City of Lviv, for seven years.

In 1979 he left and came to Toronto to pursue more opportunities. He started his life here as a refugee with nothing. He washed dishes and became a cook at the Windfields Restaurant. His love for music led him in another direction. It was here that he met Frank Fermosi and Rocco Nufrio, the owners of the then-successful Saxophone Shop. They quickly spotted Mikhail’s love for music. He, in turn, showed a keen ability to learn the trade of repairing instruments. They offered him a job and training, in which he quickly excelled!

In 1986, when the Sax Shop closed, Mikhail decided to would open his own shop in North Toronto. Still with little in his pocket, he started Mikhail Sherman Music Service, which was to become one of the most successful woodwind repair shops in Canada, servicing the educational system and many top professional musicians. Mikhail passed away peacefully and suddenly in his sleep on April 26, 2018. Many of the great musicians and music educators in the GTA will miss his quick response and expertise. A true rags-to-riches story.

Uxbridge Community Concert Band

After a year’s absence from the local band scene and some questions about the band’s rebirth, the Uxbridge Community Concert Band, with Steffan Brunette at the helm, has now had its first rehearsal. Steffan took a year off to study composition and to do some travelling. Rather than assume all of the many duties required to operate a band successfully, Steffan now has an executive team to help with the many details, but it is, once again, a superbly organized band. After their first rehearsal it became evident that a few more trumpets would be welcome. The band is a summertime-only group that rehearses in Uxbridge on Wednesday evenings. For information, email uccb@powergate.ca.

Toronto Summer Music Festival

On Sunday, July 29 at 2pm, the 2018 Toronto Summer Music Festival will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI with a concert titled “Reflections on Wartime” at The Bentway. This will include a full afternoon of events with a feature performance by theCanadian National Brass Project.” For those not familiar with it, The Canadian National Brass Project brings together many of the best brass players from professional symphony orchestras throughout North America, and each summer this all-star ensemble, led by conductor James Sommerville, joins forces and performs across the country. The program will include Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, and Mars from Gustav Holst’s The Planets. Concertgoers can also take in the sights and sounds of the Fort York Guard, enjoy a demonstration of artillery firepower, and hear military music by the Fort York Drums. There will also be a “Musical Petting Zoo” for children to test out a variety of musical instruments. For those not familiar with it, The Bentway, 250 Fort York Boulevard adjacent to Old Fort York, is being described as Toronto’s most exciting new outdoor concert venue.

A few days later, on Thursday, August 2 at 7:30pm in Koerner Hall, TSM will present “A Big Band Celebration,” which will focus on music of World War II. During the darkest days of the war the big band music of Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Glenn Miller and others was a major source of entertainment for life on the home front. As the presenters suggest, these familiar tunes became a metaphor for the way of life soldiers were fighting to preserve. This promises to be a stimulating evening of the best of the big band era as interpreted by music director Gordon Foote and featuring JUNO Award-winning jazz singer Ranee Lee.

Ranee LeeComing Events

By the time this issue is available in print, some of the events mentioned below will have taken place, but for the record and for online users, they are included here. Now that summer is close at hand, Resa Kochberg’s three musical groups have announced their current concert plans:

On Sunday, May 27 at 7:30pm, Resa’s Pieces Concert Band will perform at the Flato Markham Theatre, 171 Town Centre Blvd., Markham.

On Sunday, June 3 at 7:30pm, Resa’s Pieces Strings Ensemble will be at St. Basil College School, 20 Starview Ln., North York.

On Monday, June 4 at 7:30pm, Resa’s Band will present another concert at Mel Lastman Square in Toronto.

On Monday, June 11 at 8pm, Resa’s Singers Ensemble will perform at Beth Emeth Bais Yehuda Synagogue, 100 Elder St., North York.

Jack MacQuarrie plays several brass instruments and has performed in many community ensembles. He can be contacted at bandstand@thewholenote.com.

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