Here we are midway through the last third of the year, and most community bands are busy rehearsing, for a variety of programs from formal concerts to Santa Claus Parades; the last thing that any band needs at this time of year is any disruption of rehearsals. Many community groups rehearse in schools, so for many bands in this part of the world there was near panic that these schools might be closed due to a possible labour dispute. Fortunately, at the very last minute the matter was settled. I, myself, received notices a few days later that all rehearsals would proceed as scheduled.

It was, however, a sobering reminder of a topic I have been known to occasionally rant about: the dilemma facing many community musical groups regarding rehearsal space. Most groups are tenants of schools, churches or community centres. Few have any real means of avoiding such matters. School music rooms are ideal rehearsal spaces, complete with music stands, and much of the heavier percussion equipment. However, most music teachers and many principals have concern for the safety of this equipment. I have known of a number of situations where a new music teacher, or principal, arrived at a school and expressed concern for equipment safety. All of a sudden, a band which might have rehearsed there for years, found themselves homeless. Even if they manage to obtain another kind of rehearsal space, where do they keep larger percussion instruments, stands and maybe music library?

Actually, we just recently heard of a good compromise. When the band Resa’s Pieces were told that the music room they had been using would no longer be available, they were offered a different, much larger room with no instruments or stands. With a bit of ingenuity the band was able to negotiate a compromise. Members of the band were given permission to construct a storage space at the end of the rehearsal room to store percussion equipment. Members still have to bring their own music stands.

Might it be time for community bands to be recognized as important components of the local culture and be accorded more assistance in obtaining and retaining a home?

Speaking of rants, I’d like to refer to one that I overheard at a rehearsal recently. One member of a band referred to it as the “band practice.” Another vigorously disputed the choice of words: stating that he was at “a band rehearsal.” The matter was eventually settled amicably; all agreed that they should “practice” at home to prepare for the “band rehearsal.”

Conspicuous cold weather commitment

Now, for coming band activities. When I first entered the band world, parades were an integral part of almost every band’s activities. My very first public performance was a Labour Day Parade. In smaller communities particularly, the town band was a major component of community activities. How often do community bands parade now? For many, the answer is never. We just received word from one of the few exceptions in this part of the world. The Newmarket Citizens Band (by their own admission, Canada’s oldest town band) has announced no fewer than three such events in the coming (chilly) weeks. These include a Remembrance Day Parade, A Candlelight Parade and Treelighting Ceremony, and Santa Claus Parade. For those who have never played their instruments on parade before, help is available from more experienced band members. That band even has a set of special cold weather band parkas as part of their uniforms. They look at these events as an important part of their community involvement. What percentage of community bands in our part of the world can match that?

Fanfarones“Blowhards” by name

On October 11, I had the pleasure of attending a very different type of concert from anything that I had ever experienced before, by an instrumental group I had never heard of before. Made up of 10 wind musicians, conducted by John Liddle, they call themselves “Fanfarones.” The first portion of the concert consisted of relatively familiar music including: Wedding Day at Troldhaugen from Grieg’s Holdberg Suite, Tango Op.165 by Albeniz, Jamaica Farewell by Irving Burgie, and excerpts from Rocky Mountain Suite by Canadian composer Pete Coulman. To end the first portion of the program, conductor John Liddle played Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust on his trumpet.

The second portion of the program featured the Fanfarones performing a new work, Canoe Dancing, by local composer Stu Beaudoin. Beaudoin’s original idea had been to produce a ballet, and Canoe Dancing could still be described as a dance-like programmatic musical journey. As the work progressed, its musical impressions of canoeing were reflected on two large viewing screens on either side of the stage, capturing the many different aspects of canoeing in the music. The pictures taken by Beaudoin himself, and fellow canoeing enthusiasts, portrayed both scenic beauty and the sometimes terrifying experiences of the canoeists in rough water: from views of canoeists gently paddling along tranquil waters at sunset to others struggling to stay afloat while trying to negotiate violent rapids with surf thundering over rocks on all sides. At times, audience members felt as though they were participating in a journey, with emotions ranging from tranquillity to terror. In all, a fascinating and entertaining performance, by a group worth knowing more about.

I contacted Helen Graham, one of the founding members of the group. Here’s how she described their birth: “Fanfarones was invented in 2012 as an experiment in sound, to add a pair of flutes to a wind octet. We decided it was more fun with ten, and so have kept with this formation. Core members at the time in 2012 were Tom Fleming, Bill Krangle, Helen Graham, Dorothy Ward and John Liddle. Our player-members are drawn from the wind sections of community orchestras across the Toronto area.

“The name Fanfarones is Italian for ‘blowhards,’ which we consider to be both a pun on wind players, and poking some fun at ourselves if we ever got too arrogant, given the English language meaning (somebody who boasts and brags). We also like to say that Fanfarones means “quirky, elegant music.” 

They perform music originally written for their instrumentation, as well as arrangements, and their programming ranges from classical through to modern day popular music. The earliest original piece for such instrumentation that they have found so far is a work by Donizetti.

All in all, Fanfarones are 11 musicians who celebrate beautiful music that surprises as well as delights. The group is comprised of pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets, French horns and bassoons. Sometimes they refer to themselves as a “dectet.” The 11th member is conductor John Liddle, who on occasion plays trumpet with the group. In Helen Graham’s words: “We create a sonority that plays with a broad palette of instrumental colours. Orchestral musicians who also revel in that small group vibe, we provide quirky, elegant music.” 

Other News

As I have mentioned previously, for many years my contact with Silverthorn Symphonic Winds has been Heather Engli. Heather decided to make a drastic move to Wolfville, Nova Scotia a few weeks ago. She now tells me that she is loving Wolfville. She already has hooked up with Dan Kapp, of New Horizons renown, who moved there some months ago. She is also very busy playing with the Symphonic Band at the university and singing in a church choir. Dan Kapp also plays in the Symphonic Band and has invited her to play in the King’s County Community Band. It’s a great example of the social benefits of playing in musical groups, and of how one can find community through music.

Just Missed

As I write this, I am looking forward to the Wychwood Clarinet Choir’s Halloween concert “Creepy Clarinets” on October 27. Unfortunately, it will have passed by the time this issue is available. It includes Humperdink’s Overture to Hansel and Gretel; Moussorgsky’s Baba Yaga’s Hut and Great Gate of Kiev; Mancini’s; The Pink Panther and Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King.

BANDSTAND QUICK PICKS

NOV 2, 2:30PM: The combined Navy bands of Toronto’s HMCS York and Hamilton’s HMCS Star present their Remembrance Concert at the Cathedral Church of St. James, 106 King St. E in Toronto.

NOV 2, 7:30PM: Toronto’s Professional Flute Choir, Flute Street will be joined by special guests, Les Flûtistes de Montréal, at the Church of St. Peter and St. Simon-the-Apostle, 525 Bloor St. E. If you are not familiar with the variety of flute sizes, this is a great chance to hear them. From the usual concert flute this group includes alto flutes, bass flutes, contrabass flutes and even a giant sub contrabass flute. Compared to the regular flute, about two feet long, this instrument stands over six feet tall.

NOV 2, 7:30PM: “A Little Wind Music” by Upper Canada Brass will include Impressions by Paul Lovatt-Cooper, When Thunder Calls by Len Ballantine and Hannaford Street March by Kevin Lau. St. Paul’s Anglican Church-Innisfil, 3294 St. Paul’s Crescent St., Barrie.

NOV 23, 7:30PM: Silverthorn Symphonic Winds will present their fall concert at the Wilmar Heights Events Centre, 963 Pharmacy Ave., Toronto.

NOV 29, 7:30PM: The Newmarket Citizens Band will be at Newmarket’s historic Old Town Hall, 460 Botsford Street, to present their formal seasonal concert, ”Winter Fantasy,” with special guests, Marquee Theatrical Productions Elite Intermediate Youth Group.

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 produce this column I realize that we are dealing with the autumnal equinox. That means the official end to summer, or beginning of autumn. To be more precise, right at the time this issue is going to the printer, the official equinox will be occurring, at 4:02pm on Sunday, September 22. (Musicians aren’t always the only ones working on weekends.) In other words, even though there has been some beautiful weather, fall is here and it’s time for much new music making. That being said, while we have some information on what lies ahead in our musical world, so far my notes are still a bit of this and a bit of that, so I think that I’ll just consider this month’s column as Variations on a Non Existent Theme and dive right in.

Square Dealing

Happenings in my own personal musical world might be a place to start. Some days ago I came across a bulletin mentioning an open house at a local Masonic Lodge for local citizens to learn about how Freemasons have been part of our communities for centuries. One component of the emblem of Freemasonry is the square, one of the earliest working tools of craftsmen. It was, and still is, used to confirm the accuracy of right angles. Hence “Acting upon the Square” is a familiar metaphor for square and honest dealings with others.

So what does all of this have to do with music? As I looked at this emblem, I remembered hearing that there was a march titled On The Square based on some ceremonies of Freemasonry. Where to get information on this march? Where else but to Google! There it was, played by a number of different bands. I chose to listen to the version by a Band of the Royal Marines. For a few days after that I could not get that music out of my head. I had a chronic earworm. Then, a few nights later at a band rehearsal, what was the very first number that the director chose to rehearse? On The Square. Now that earworm was firmly implanted in my head, so it was time to confirm just what an earworm really is. Off to Wikipedia I went. There were a number of other terms, but the definition I liked there was “involuntary musical imagery,” where a catchy piece of music continuously repeats through a person’s mind after it is no longer playing.

How to stop an earworm? Initially I thought that there should be an “ear bird” like a robin that liked eating worms. Off to Wikipedia again. “Scientists at Western Washington University have found that engaging one’s working memory in moderately difficult tasks (such as anagrams Sudoku puzzles, or reading a novel) is an effective way of stopping earworms and of reducing their recurrence.” That’s great, but working on a Sudoku puzzle while driving, or reading a novel is a bit risky, I’d say. Several days later, On The Square still frequently returns to my brain. My decision so far: live with it; just try to let a whole library of tunes worm their way into my brain so I can change channels for variety.

For those interested, On The Square was composed by Frank Panella, a clarinetist in the Pittsburgh Symphony, sometime in the early 1900s. It is a very fine march and worthy of inclusion in a band’s library. And for any of you out there who have surefire cures for earworms, I am all ears!

From the files of Johann Cluttermeister

Once again, this month, I morphed into my occasional household “alter ego” of Johann Cluttermeister. This time I found an envelope postmarked May 21, 1973 “from the desk of Murray McEachern” in Mentone, California, promoting a new release of three records titled Music for Sleepwalkers Only. In the listing of selections in Vol. II of these records I was familiar with all of the selections, but the one tune that struck a chord with me was Too Little Time; written in 1950 by Henry Mancini, Too Little Time was the main theme in the 1954 movie The Glenn Miller Story. It was then off to my record collection to play my copy of this tune, (made early in the year 2000 by a band where I was a member). It did not get rid of my earworm, by the way, but at least I now had two different numbers in my earworm library.

The Music Lovers at Royal York. Photo by Joan AndrewsThe trouble with my Cluttermeister collection is that no sooner do I get rid of something in it, than something else comes along that needs to be added. I was recently presented with a photograph with personal relevance for me. A friend of a friend had found the photo in a pile destined for the scrap heap, and thought that it might interest me. It was of swing band called The Music Lovers, all decked out in blazers and gray flannel pants in a ballroom of the Royal York Hotel. Of the 17 members, I was only able to name three, other than myself! There I am, back row, far right! Adding a single photo to my collection of memorabilia shouldn’t be a problem, you’d think. Well, this case is a bit different. This full-colour photograph just happens to be three feet wide and two feet high mounted on 3/8-inch plywood. It won’t fit in any album here, and there isn’t any suitable wall space to hang it up.

One of my favourites in the world of classical music is Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turca. (one of many different spellings). While I have a recording of that work, I also have among my memorabilia an old Dixieland version with the name Mo Zart’s Turkey Trot. So much, for now, for the Cluttermeister collection.

Back to Bugles

More on my beef about bugle music on trumpets. On June 6 this year I attended a ceremony on the street in front of the home of a man named Fred Barnard to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Fred was one of only two or three men, from The Queen’s Own Rifles regiment, still living, who landed on Juno Beach in Normandy in 1944. Two months later I attended Fred’s funeral service. At the funeral there were many members of his regiment and the regimental association. During the service in the chapel there was the customary playing of The Last Post by a bugler at the rear of the chapel. I was stunned when I heard the first notes of this. I was hearing a real bugle, not a trumpet. There, in full uniform, was the bugler from The Queen’s Own Band playing on an excellent new bugle. It had been a very long time since I had heard such a beautiful tone and flawless playing.

I had to learn more about this bright silver bugle. A few weeks later I visited a rehearsal of the Band of the Queen’s Own Rifles at Moss Park Armoury and chatted with the man who played that bugle. It was not the old traditional copper instrument with brass trim around the bell. This was a bright silver instrument, and the big feature for me was that it uses a standard trumpet mouthpiece. One of the problems with the tradition copper bugle is that the mouthpiece has a very different shank than a trumpet. Consequently, most trumpet players are reluctant to play bugle calls on an unfamiliar mouthpiece. In this case any trumpet player just uses their regular mouthpiece. It’s a win - win situation. My next question was: where did they get this excellent bugle. All I have found out so far is that this bugle was made to order locally. I hope get more information on that soon and will pass it on to you when I do.

Concerts with Themes

Looking over information on recent and planned future concerts, it seems that they are now the usual standard format. In the past few months I’ve encountered such themes as: “Music based on Bach,” “A Night at the Oscars,” and “A Night at the Cinema.” Christmas is still too far away to to be rearing its head just yet. Halloween, though, is getting the definite nod. A recent flyer from the Markham Concert Band is for three concerts, all with themes. The first, on October 30 is “MCB’s Hallowe’en Party.” Then, on Sunday, October 27 the Wychwood Clarinet Choir will perform their fall concert with the theme “Creepy Clarinets.”

Programming themed concerts solves some problems, but also poses some dilemmas. In programming who are we trying to please, the audience, the conductor or band members? For band members at least, the limitations of library contents can become an issue when all the music on the chosen theme is at one level of difficulty.

Of the concerts on the near horizon that we have heard of, only one really states what an audience can expect. On Sunday, October 27 at 4pm The Wychwood Clarinet Choir presents “Creepy Clarinets” featuring Humperdink’s Overture to Hansel and Gretel; Moussorgsky’s Baba Yaga’s Hut and Great Gate of Kiev; Henry Mancini’s The Pink Panther; and Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King. With artistic director Michele Jacot conducting, this should be a very entertaining afternoon at the Church of St. Michael and All Angels, 611 St. Clair Ave. W. in Toronto.

Plumbing Factory Brass Band on Hiatus

Speaking of creative thematic programming, elsewhere in the band community, we have received sad news from Henry Meredith who officially announced just the other day that he has made the decision to suspend the Plumbing Factory Brass Band indefinitely. This band has presented nearly 60 different programs over the last two dozen years. This will be sad news for Brass Band fans. There will be no PFBB next season. As for the future, who knows? Henry himself certainly has a lot of musical irons in the fire. For one thing, there is his huge instrument collection which needs proper cataloguing if he is to find the museum home for it that it richly deserves. We’ll follow this next chapter in “Dr. Hank’s” life with interest, and report back.

Elsewhere, the Music Continues

Following are upcoming concerts we know about. Only the bare bones are here. All the details can be found in The WholeNote’s listings sections.

BANDSTAND QUICK PICKS

OCT 5, 7:30PM: St. George’s Cathedral. Metropolitan Silver Band. 270 King St. E., Kingston. Proceeds to the Cathedral Heritage Preservation Trust.

OCT 15, 7PM: Barrie Concert Band. Musical tribute to the veterans of the Canadian Forces and to those currently serving abroad or at home. Entertainment by the Skyliners’ Big Band will follow tribute. Royal Canadian Legion Branch 147, 410 St. Vincent St., Barrie.

OCT 20, 3PM: Weston Silver Band. In Concert. Guests: TorQ Percussion Quartet. Glenn Gould Studio.

OCT 20, 4PM: Guelph Concert Band. Masterclass Concert with Elisabeth Fessler (trumpet) and Cristian Ganicenco (trombone). Chris Cigolea, conductor. Salvation Army Citadel, 1320 Gordon St., Guelph.

OCT 23, 12:30PM: Don Wright Faculty of Music. Western University Symphonic Band. Paul Davenport Theatre, Talbot College, Western University, London.

OCT 27, 3PM: Church of the Ascension. Swing Shift Big Band: Memories of Yesteryear - The Big Band Sound.

OCT 27, 3PM: Hannaford Street Silver Band. Nine Daies Wonder. Guest: Mark Fewer, violin. Jane Mallett Theatre, St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts.

OCT 29, 8PM: Roy Thomson Hall. A Tuba to Cuba: Preservation Hall Jazz Band with Yusa and Special Guests.

NOV 1, 8PM: Etobicoke Community Concert Band. Radio Days. Alex Dean, saxophone. Etobicoke Collegiate Auditorium.

NOV 7, 7:30PM: York University Department of Music. York University Wind Symphony & York University Symphony Orchestra’s Preview Concert. Tribute Communities Recital Hall, Accolade East.

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 write this September column (the beginning of my 14th year), it’s the usual dilemma. Should I start with the events of the summer about to end, or the fall just over the horizon? And what about summers past? I think I’ll start there.

In case you haven’t been around to notice, outdoor concerts have changed. Having worked for many years as master of ceremonies at a variety of summer band concerts, I remember well concerts every Sunday, sponsored by Toronto’s Parks and Recreation Department at the Beaches Bandstand and in High Park, with concerts during the week at Allan Gardens and St. James Park.

My own summers usually ended, back then, operating the “world’s first” outdoor stereo sound system on the main bandshell at the CNE. My first season there was working with the late Sir Vivian Dunn and the Band of the Royal Marines, Plymouth Division. On another occasion, the National Band on New Zealand was featured. During the times when the featured band was not performing on the main bandshell, there were concerts on the CNE’s north bandstand by various bands from local Army and Navy Reserve units.

It has probably been some years since there have been such events with major feature bands at any outdoor facility in the Toronto area. However, community bands all over the province have been performing at a wide range of performance venues ranging from such large dedicated facilities as the Millennium Bandstand in Unionville (built in 2000) or the Rotary Aqua Theatre in Orillia’s Couchiching Park (built in 1958), to grassy areas in public parks. In the cases of the more formal bandstands, most usually have some limited seating and lots of space for audience members to bring their own seats.

Lest I start to sound too nostalgic, I should point out that while the more informal concerts on grassy lawns may be pleasant for audience members, they are not necessarily so for band members. Other than bad weather, problems can include uneven terrain for members to place chairs and music stands, bright sun in their eyes, winds to blow the music off their stands and the logistics of getting large instruments to and from the parking area to the performance site.

Just as there is much less formality in the venues, so too there is now a wide range of the delivery of the music, the dress of band members and conductors, and the means of announcing the music and soloists. During this past summer I have seen attire ranging from bands with everyone wearing rather formal uniforms with shirt, tie and band blazer to groups with shorts and a wide variety of tops.

As for audiences, times have also changed. Cell phones scattered throughout the audience are common as is the eating of treats. The photograph with this column is a case in point: the Encore Symphonic Concert Band at the Millennium Bandstand in Unionville, in garb that does not really match their prestigious name. And at least one audience member trying hard to let the music distract him from his ice cream.

The Encore Symphonic Concert Band at the Millennium Bandstand in Unionville. Photo by Jack MacQuarrieSummer repertoire has evolved as well. Years ago, bands always played at least one march by Alford or Sousa. Of all of the concerts this summer, where I either played or listened, there was not a single march. All of which brings up a favourite topic of mine: repertoire. Should it be purely based on the preferences of the conductor, the skills and interests of band members, or what they hope will appeal to their audiences on a given day? Two recent concerts were a case in point: as is popular these days one was thematic, with the title: “Music of the Cinema, Popcorn Not Included.” The other concert did not have a specific title, but was made up either of Beethoven music or music inspired by Beethoven. After the latter of these concerts, I asked a man how he liked the program. His reply: “Why would a band play Beethoven at an outdoor concert?” When asked what he would prefer, he stated that it should be obvious: “A band outdoors should be playing Sousa marches.” All of which brings up that recurring theme: “You can please some of the people some of the time, but you will never please all of the people all of the time.”

Buried Treasure

At some time every summer, I morph into my occasional household alter ego, Johann Cluttermeister, and start digging through many boxes of “sometime I must get around to it” stuff. I uncovered a few musical gems. The first was an advertisement from the Stratford Festival of a few years back, for a performance of H.M.S. Pinafore. There he was, a sailor in the uniform of the United States Navy, embracing a sweet young lady. What, pray tell, was an American sailor doing in a story aboard a Royal Navy ship?

Then it was music for a lesser-known bugle call, The First Post. Most people are familiar with The Last Post, but how many have ever heard of The First Post? Having served many years ago in a large Royal Navy ship, which was the Admiral’s Flagship, I became acquainted with many bugle calls. We had a full Royal Marine Band with many buglers aboard. We heard a multitude of bugle calls every day to announce certain routines. The First Post was one of these. And there it was, the music for this little-known bugle call! Off to Google I went. I typed in “bugle call The First Post.” Almost immediately, I heard this call played in its entirety as I followed it with the sheet of music in front of me, after which to my surprise and pleasure, I was treated to a succession of many British bugle calls.

Into another box, and out came a true gem: a well-worn small book of music, titled the Universal Band Primer. “The indispensable and VERY FIRST BOOK for all Young Bands” it proclaimed. Published by Hawkes & Son in 1912. Price: one shilling and sixpence. The first page covered the “Rudiments of Music” and consisted of a stave with the comparative value of notes and rests: wholenotes, half notes, quarter notes, etcetera, except that here they are called, respectively: semibreve, minims, crotchets and so on, down into quavers, semiquavers and demisemiquavers. As for the instrumentation: there are books available for saxhorns, G bass trombones and bombardons. It seems that there have been some changes in the band world over the past century.

Band activities

Usually, around this time of year, I received considerable information on band activities over the summer months. This year, not so, but with one notable exception. Joan Sax of the Richmond Hill Concert Band wrote to inform us of a concert series at a new venue: during the months of July and August, the Richmond Hill Concert Band presented “The Lake Wilcox Summer Concert Series” Sunday afternoons at 1pm on the Oak Ridges Community Centre terrace. These featured the five concert bands of York Region: the Aurora Community Band, the Thornhill Community Band, the Richmond Hill Concert Band, the Markham Concert Band and the Newmarket Citizens Band. Playing in one of these concerts gave me an opportunity to tour this new community centre adjacent to Lake Wilcox. It is an excellent and much-needed new facility with too many features to describe here. If I ever needed a reminder of how things have changed over the years, though, this was it! Some years ago, as a young boy living in Windsor, Ontario, with a population then of 100,000, I occasionally visited the little village of Richmond Hill. On my way to this community centre, we passed a sign welcoming us to the City of Richmond Hill, population 208,000.

Also by this time in past years, I would start to get notices of future band activities. This year I have not received a single notice of any coming events yet! If you, as a reader, are a member of a band, we would love to be informed of any coming events. For me to make mention of them in this column, we generally need them no later than the fifteenth of the preceding month.

Other happenings

Earlier this year, we attended a ceremony at Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square, where members of HMCS York, Toronto’s Reserve Naval Division, were commemorating the annual Battle of Atlantic Sunday. We were astounded to see six or eight members of the band in formal army uniforms. How could this be? It turns out it was that time of year where many communities were experiencing serious flooding and needed people to fill and position sandbags, and several band regular band members were away on extra emergency duties doing so. Members of one or more reserve army bands had therefore the HMCS York band’s ranks to form an unusual Red and Blue ensemble.

Warning! Groaners ahead

Question: What’s musical and handy in a supermarket?
Answer: A Chopin Lizst.

Question: How do you get a million dollars playing jazz?
Answer: Start off with two million.

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

Since we haven’t seen any snowflakes for two weeks, it is probably safe to assume that spring is here, and that summer won’t be far behind. But that being said, it is also true that this will be the last issue of The WholeNote until the September issue by which time fall will be looming. So there is a lot to cover here, and a lot that will likely fall through the cracks. While we frequently hear talk of the “paperless society,” it isn’t here yet, and probably never will be. For The WholeNote, as with any other paper publication, that means that there must always be a gap between the time when all of the final copy is written and the day when the first paper publication is available for our readers. A number of events will take place during that gap. I hope to attend several of them, but they will already be past history by the time you read this, and long gone by the time I report next. I will take notes as I go, though.

Innovations

In recent years there has been much talk about the demise of the “town band” insofar as the traditional concert in the park and/or parade of the town band. Yes! Developments in technology have certainly changed much of community music. On the other hand, some bands have embraced these developments to further their bands’ connection with their communities. Two such situations have come to my attention recently.

The Uxbridge Community Concert Band cnnecting to their community. Photo by Jack MacQuarrieThe first of these, by the Uxbridge Community Concert Band (UCCB), was an unusual way for a band to connect with their community. This band, a summertime-only group, had a unique way to contact citizens of Uxbridge. On the seasonal opening day of the town’s Summer Farmers’ Market, the band had a display stand with a dual purpose. One: Invite any potential members to consider joining the band. Two: Invite anyone passing by to attend UCCB summer events. One feature of their display was a laptop computer with a large screen and loudspeakers showing the band in one of its concerts. The photograph here shows the band’s membership chair, Terry Christiansen with her French horn and conductor Steffan Brunette with his computer.

Speaking of the UCCB’s Steffan Brunette, a couple of years ago, he took a year off from teaching and studied composition and this summer’s repertoire will include the premiere performance of a new composition of his with a very unusual inspiration. Brunette is recovering from major surgery and has appointed two assistants to conduct rehearsals at times when he may not be able to do so. Well, while recovering in the cardiology ward of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, he conceived this work. In his words: “The beeping of a specific heart monitor (on an F-sharp, in 5/4 time) throughout the day and night became the inspiration for the basis of a new piece.” This summer, audiences will be treated to the world premiere of Tachycardia.

The other town band innovation I want to mention here is by the Newmarket Citizens Band. The band has had a YouTube channel for about three years now, and have just announced that they currently have 43 videos posted on the channel – audio recordings of their performances from several of their various concerts that have taken place during that period. One, in particular, jumps out as having received exceptional numbers over a short period of time. Since being posted last August, The Lord of the Rings by Richard Saucedo, recorded at the Orillia Opera House, has had over 1200 views. That’s the most for any of their posted videos! 

New Horizons

I heard recently from Heather Engli about a big move on the horizon for her. I first met Heather many years ago when she was a music student and trumpet player at university. Years later, when we moved to Goodwood in Uxbridge Township, there was Heather, and she had stopped playing trumpet. A few years later, she was back playing and teaching trumpet. For some time now she has been my principal contact with The Silverthorn Symphonic Winds. Very soon Heather will be moving to Wolfville, Nova Scotia where she may even study more music at Acadia University, and she has already made contact with Dan and Lisa Kapp who moved there a couple of years ago, she informed me.

Dan Kapp, as regular readers of this column will know, was the driving force behind the first New Horizons Band of Toronto in 2010, when they started with one band made up of 19 adults, who had either never played music before, or who wanted to return to music after having played in high school. The qualifications for becoming a member were simple: you had to love music and be willing to do your best. “I will never forget my first practice” said Randy Kligerman, who is now president of NHBT. I too remember it well: a call from Dan Kapp, telling me that the first NH band did not have any trombones for their very first concert, I took action. I dug out, not one, but two trombones. One was for myself. The other I handed over to Joan, “the lady of the house,” and stated that “we are the trombone section.” I thought that Dan was being more than ridiculous to schedule that very first concert for a new beginner band to take place in the CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio. I was wrong. The concert was appreciated and applauded by a full-house audience.

NHBT has since grown to approximately 260 members, with eight concert bands and two jazz bands, and offers a variety of mini-enrichment programs throughout the year. Initially they rehearsed in a studio space at Long & McQuade in Toronto. When they outgrew that, they were able to rehearse at the Salvation Army location at Bloor and Dovercourt. Again they have faced an enviable problem, many more people wanted to join NHBT and enrich their lives with music, but the bands had outgrown the space availability at their current Bloor and Dovercourt location. “We are a difficult tenant” said Kligerman, “ We have day and evening classes, require a band room with good acoustics and lighting, and many of our members prefer not to drive, so access from the Bloor Subway line is a priority. Not an easy thing to find in Toronto, especially at a rent we could afford.” After looking at numerous buildings and churches, Kligerman visited the Seicho-No-le Centre, at Danforth and Victoria Park. He knew this would be their new home as soon as he walked in. “The building is beautiful and has all the amenities we need, and our new landlords are welcoming and supportive of what we do with the community. Everyone is excited about what the future holds for NHBT, and most importantly, we can continue to grow as an organization,” said Kligerman.

NHBT now offers summer classes in beginner/advanced theory, beginner concert, sight reading and jazz, starting June 3. Their regular concert/jazz program starts up again in September. Read more about this on their website: newhorizonsbandtoronto.ca.

The Markham New Horizons Band is one that I had not heard of before, but met them for the first time recently. As a member of New Horizons International Music Association, the band serves as an entry access point to music making for adults, with or without musical background, and for those who have missed playing. They practise at Long & McQuade, Markham (9833 Markham Road) every Tuesday from 1pm to 3pm. During my brief visit, it became apparent that they would love to welcome some “low brass” members. For information contact their conductor Soah Lu at markhamnewhorizonsband@gmail.com.

CBA

The Canadian Band Association (Ontario) just announced their next Band Weekend. It will take place from June 14 to 16 in Barrie and be hosted by the Barrie Concert Band. For those not familiar with these events, the CBA Weekend brings together musicians from community bands across the province to join together for a challenging, but fun couple of days of music making. Under a number of different guest conductors, attendees will rehearse all day Saturday. That evening is a time for people to socialize. Then on Sunday afternoon, all will come together as a massed band to perform in a public concert. If you or your band have CBA membership, you will receive all information needed to register.

Outdoor venues

Over the years we have usually received information on concerts at a number of outdoor venues in Southern Ontario. So far we only have information on the Orillia Sunday evening Concert Band Series. These all take place on the Orillia Aqua Theatre in a park on the shore of Lake Couchiching. If the weather is bad, the concerts are automatically moved to the Orillia Opera House. This year’s lineup: June 23 - Orillia Concert Band; June 30 - Baytowne Big Band; July 7 - Weston Silver Band; July 14 - Orillia Silver Band; July 21 - Newmarket Citizens Band; July 28 - Barrie Skyliners Big Band; August 4 - Muskoka Concert Band; August 11 - Mississauga Pops Concert Band; August 18 - Simcoe County Band; and August 25 - Markham Concert Band. So far we have not heard anything from The Millennial Bandstand in Unionville or the Civic Bandstand in Oshawa.

Humour

A community choir was plagued with attendance problems. Several singers were absent at each rehearsal! As a matter of fact, every singer in the choir had missed several rehearsals, except for one very faithful alto! Finally at the dress rehearsal for their big concert, the conductor took a moment to single out and thank the faithful alto. She, of course, humbly responded, “Well it’s the least I could do, since I won’t be able to make the performance!”

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

In my previous column I mentioned some anniversaries on the horizon. One of these will be a May 5 celebration by the Waterloo Concert Band of the 100th anniversary of the arrival in town of “Professor” Thiele, as he was known, by performing his newly discovered Festival Overture. This will be at Knox Presbyterian Church, 50 Erb St. W., Waterloo. Since mentioning the event last issue, I have been overwhelmed by information about Thiele from a variety of sources. From one friend I received a copy of a 130-page university thesis on Thiele’s life, work and contributions to Waterloo; and writer Pauline Finch, who plays piccolo and flute with the Waterloo Concert Band and others, provided far more information on Thiele than I could ever have discovered on my own.

Charles Frederick Thiele’s newly discovered Festival Overture. Photo by Pauline FinchCharles Frederick Thiele did not study or teach at any prestigious music school. He was largely self-taught and earned his renown through natural talent and experience. The title “Professor” (always in quotation marks) was an informal mark of respect often given to popular concert and show-band conductors during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It did not have any real academic connotations, but might well, in his case, equate to an honorary doctorate today.

Thiele was a self-employed freelancer like many in his day – holding multiple positions, often several at one time. As celebrated as he became in Canadian music during first half of the 20th century, he wasn’t a hometown boy either. When he arrived in Waterloo 100 years ago on April 1, 1919, hired to direct the Waterloo Musical Society Band, he was nearly 35, having been born in the Lower East Side neighbourhood of New York City to impoverished German immigrant parents. Despite their only son’s early aptitude for music, they were too destitute to provide him with lessons. However, the boy in question was also gifted with disciplined ambition, hints of a true leader’s charisma, and a shrewd instinct for business opportunities – qualities that served him well in his parallel careers as composer, entertainer, impresario and industrialist.

Well before the turn of the 20th century, and still in his teens, Thiele made his first money as a street photographer. With his earnings he was able to acquire a cornet. By 19, he’d married his 17-year-old girlfriend Louise (an accomplished singer, actress and instrumentalist in her own right). By his early 20s, he was finally able to afford regular cornet lessons and quickly made up for lost time, soon progressing to the rank of a steadily employed freelance musician, learning on the job, playing with numerous professional bands in parades, political rallies, lodges, social clubs, sports events, festivals, circuses, silent films, and just about any occasion where paid live music was required.

After answering the band’s advertisement in early in 1919, he travelled to Waterloo (which had only 5,000 people at the time) to meet his potential employers in person. He landed the job at a salary of $1,200 a year, roughly equivalent to $15,706 in 2019, supplementing this part-time income by teaching and freelancing, and wasting no time imprinting his legendary creative energy on his new hometown. As early as 1921, he’d founded the Waterloo Music Company as a sheet music mail-order business in a spare room of his house. The business began as a profitable service to silent movie houses throughout Canada; by the time “talkies” put an end to demand, less than a decade later, Thiele already had Plan B figured out – providing educational music for schools.

Thiele was actually the Waterloo band’s ninth bandmaster, but because he served in the post for 32 years, even some locals assumed he had founded the band. When radio came along just before the Depression, Thiele managed to have the Waterloo Musical Society Band chosen to play the first live band concert in Canadian broadcast history.

Worthy of further investigation, I also learned that Thiele was instrumental in the introduction of the Ontario “Band Tax Law” in 1937 which enabled many smaller Ontario town bands to survive during and after the Great Depression. I had never heard of such a law before, but, continuing to dig, discovered that somewhat earlier, in 1921, the State of Iowa had enacted the Iowa Band Law, municipalities in the state to fund town bands. In fact, in 1923, composer Karl King wrote a fine march titled (there are at least two versions of it on YouTube) to commemorate the law’s passage.

Michele Jacot and Roy Greaves with “Oscar” at their last concert when the theme was “A Night at the Oscars.” Photo by Paul BryanWychwood

The other previously mentioned May anniversary (May 26) belongs to the Wychwood Clarinet Choir. The choir’s musical director Michele Jacot responded to my inquiry about the concert with this: “Yes, it will be our tenth! A special show complete with cake and bubbly afterward. We are going to raise a glass to the first ten (if I may toot our own horn for a moment, very successful) seasons. The team is amazing. All I do is wave my arms around until the music stops and then turn around and bow.”

The selections for this show are a “best of” from those first ten seasons, featuring works by their “composers’ collective” and core group of talented arrangers. They have tried to include something by all of the members in that talent hub. Included will be Fen Watkin’s Anne of Green Gables Medley; Selections from Canteloube’s Chants d'Auvergne (arr. Moore); and a stellar arrangement of Gershwin’s An American in Paris by Roy Greaves.

As a prelude to the concert, on May 4, St. John’s Music, Toronto invites interested parties to take part in a Wychwood Clarinet Choir performance and reading session between 10am and 12 noon. Anyone interested should contact Ben McGillis at 416-785-5000.

Newmarket

Many bands tend to suffer from a lack of advanced planning, but not the Newmarket Citizen’s Band who have already initiated the planning process for their 150th anniversary in 2022. The band’s executive has started the process of identifying several projects intended to commemorate this very important milestone in their history, and to illustrate to the broader community, the band’s contributions to the cultural and social life of the residents of Newmarket and the surrounding area over the years. But circle May 1 2022 on your busy calendars for the launch at the Newmarket Old Town Hall of an exhibit of the band’s history!

Orangeville Community Band

It was very pleasing recently to receive an email message from Bernie Lynch of the Orangeville Community Band, who tells me the column has given him much pleasure for several years and goes on to say: “As a member of a band which is in its 12th year, I am asking for the opportunity to inform readers about our next concert on May 11, at 7pm, titled “A Celebration of Crooners, Canaries and Chorales,” including and other Irish selections,, selections from and more. It all happens at Orangeville District Secondary School, 22 Faulkner St.(back entrance), Orangeville.”

North York

On Saturday, May 11 at 7:30, the North York Concert Band’s Spring Bouquet, 2019 Gala Concert sounds entertaining! It will take place at the Al Green Theatre, Miles Nadal JCC; and under the direction of John Liddle, the band will present a variety of hits, some classic concert band repertoire and two special features. The first of these, , is a technical trombone solo, mixing the raw ragtime feel of the 20s with a laid-back rhythm of an early blues. Principal trombonist, Martin Hubel, will be there, we are informed, with “a trombone and a toilet plunger.” The other special feature is a new band commission by William R. Wilcox, titled inspired, they tell us, by the famous march. (In golf, a bogey is, of course, “one over par.”)

UCCB

It is a bit too early to report on the plans for this year of the Uxbridge Community Concert Band. This a summertime band which usually begins rehearsals in May. Since last December, Conductor Steffan Brunette has been dealing with a serious health crisis. Now on the mend, he and his committee are making plans which will include two standby assistant conductors to step in if needed. There are about 60 people on the band list, so they should be up and running soon, so stay tuned.

Other Recent Events

Before closing I feel compelled to report on three very different musical events which I had the pleasure of attending a week before I began this column. While none had anything to do with concert bands or their music, they all left lasting musical impressions.

The first event, in Uxbridge, was one of the most unusual concerts in my memory. It was officially titled “Chiaroscuro,” meaning “from light to dark into light.” The featured work was by Greek-born Canadian composer Christos Hatzis, a professor of composition at the University of Toronto. It was a work for choir, percussion, electronic audio effects and bass clarinet. The featured guest performer, on bass clarinet, was Jeff Reilly, senior CBC Radio producer of music production for the Atlantic Region, who has an international reputation as an innovative master of the bass clarinet.

The second event was a violin recital by Duncan McDougall. I first heard him perform as a child old-time fiddler at a summer event in a park in Uxbridge. This time it was a “Violin Recital” with selections from such as Mozart’s , Saint-Saëns’ , Mendelssohn’s and other works by Bach and Paganini. This Grade 11 high school student performed the entire program from memory with amazing stage presence. Now serving as co-concertmaster of the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, Duncan will be attending Morningside Music Bridge at the New England Conservatory this coming summer. He’s one to keep an eye on.

The third event was a performance at Roy Thomson Hall of Gustav Mahler’s by the TSO, Amadeus Choir and The Elmer Iseler Singers. Going from a solo recital one evening to this massive work two days later was quite an experience. How often does one see no fewer than eight French horns in one orchestra? To top it all off, Juanjo Mena, who was supposed to conduct the three performances of this work, was suddenly taken ill. Matthew Halls stepped in at the last minute and made it look as though he had prepared for weeks. His athletic conducting style made him one of the stars. 

BANDSTAND QUICK PICKS

MAY 3, 7:30PM: Scarborough Concert Band. Spring Concert. Keith Bohlender, conductor. Wilmar Heights Centre, 963 Pharmacy Ave., Scarborough.

MAY 5, 11AM: Mississauga Big Band Jazz Ensemble. MBBJE Live big band recording with guest vocalists Whitney Ross-Barris, Sam Broverman, Glenn Chipkar, Suzanne McKenney, Denise Leslie. Port Credit Legion, 35 Front St. N., Port Credit.

MAY 5, 3PM: The Weston Silver Band will have their “Afternoon at the Proms” with. Canadian and British repertoire. Glenn Gould Studio, 250 Front St.W.

MAY 24, 8PM: Etobicoke Community Concert Band presents “On the Road Again,” with guest: Calvin Morais. Etobicoke Collegiate Auditorium, 86 Montgomery Rd., Etobicoke.

MAY 25, 7:30PM: Silverthorn Symphonic Winds present “Masters of Music.” Cable: Scottish Rhapsody; Vaughan Williams: English Folk Song Suite; Hazo: Arabesque. Wilmar Heights Centre, 963 Pharmacy Ave., Scarborough.

MAY 26, 1:30PM: Music at Metropolitan with the Metropolitan Silver Band . Metropolitan United Church, 56 Queen St. E.

MAY 26, 2PM: The Mississauga Big Band Jazz Ensemble. “Jazz at the Legion.” Port Credit Legion, 35 Front St. N., Port Credit.

JUN 1, 7:30PM: The Barrie Concert Band presents “150 Years – Let’s Celebrate!” featuring Mark Tetrault on tuba; Peter Volsey, music director; and former conductors of the Barrie Concert Band. Collier Street United Church, 112 Collier St., Barrie.

JUN 2, 3:30PM: The North Toronto Community Band. will have their “Spring Rhythms” with marches, classics, show tunes, big band and more. Danny Wilks, conductor; Phil Coonce, violin; Sharon Smith, vocalist. Tribute Communities Recital Hall, Accolade East Building, York University, 4700 Keele St.

JUN 2, 7PM: Strings Attached Orchestra. will have their “Family & Friends Annual Year End Concert.” Isabel Bader Theatre, 93 Charles St. W.

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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