Well, the holiday season, with all of its almost overlapping rehearsals and concerts, is past history. Then, like mother nature (with the exception of her one or two nasty outbursts), the community ensemble scene lapsed into a tranquil, semi comatose state of inactivity. We have not heard of a single event scheduled for January or early February. Then, well after Groundhog Day and Family Day have past into history, we see the awakenings of a new season.
The first musical events for the season brought to our attention are not concerts, but are still events of considerable interest to members of community ensembles. Long and McQuade will be presenting no fewer than five free clinics on successive Saturday afternoons starting February 4. If you play clarinet, saxophone, trumpet or trombone, check for details at firstname.lastname@example.org. The two which particularly caught my attention were sax and trumpet. If you have never seen or heard contrabass, sopranino or soprillo saxophones, here’s your chance. The AllSax4tet will be performing on eight different sizes of saxes. As for the trumpet session, it will feature none other than the incomparable Doc Severinsen, leader of the Tonight Show Band for 30 years. Yes, he’s still actively performing.
The other noteworthy event is “International Horn Day 2012” presented by the York University Department of Music on February 10 at 7:30pm. This will feature Jacquelyn Adams with Clifton Hyde, guitar and Jeff Butterfield, drums, plus horn ensembles of all levels from across southern Ontario, including the Toronto Symphony horn section, Tafelmusik horns and more. See the listing section for details.
Two concert offerings which have come to our attention break with tradition in quite different ways. The first of these will be The City of Brampton Concert Band’s “Heroes and Villains” on Saturday, February 25. The concert will focus on the theme of heroes and villains in the broad sense of its many manifestations in life, history, nature, literature and art. Director Darryl Eaton has assembled a fantastic range of guest artists to help explore these concepts in musical terms. Perhaps the quirkiest will be William Snodgrass performing a whimsical version of The Flight of the Bumblebee as a percussion solo. For more details check their website at www.bramptonconcertband.com.
The second of these concerts with a different approach will be that of the Markham Concert Band. In a departure from more traditional programming, conductor Doug Manning decided to focus on works composed and/or arranged by Canadians. As an added feature, no fewer than four of these composers and arrangers will be in attendance. In the audience, to hear their compositions performed, will be renowned trumpeter Johnny Cowell and saxophonist Eddie Graf. As for the other two composers, they are band members Sean Breen and Vern Kennedy.
A long time member of the Toronto Symphony, Cowell also made his mark as a composer in the popular field. In fact, in the early 1960s Cowell had more compositions on the Hit Parade than anyone else. Two of his compositions were number one on the charts world wide. Walk Hand in Hand, now a wedding standard, and Our Winter Love are still popular today, almost 50 years later.
Graf was a band leader in Canadian Army shows in England and Europe during World War II. On his return to Canada, he led his own big band and was responsible for writing, arranging and conducting for many CBC shows. Now in his 90s, Graf is still playing and turning out fine compositions and arrangements.
Kennedy, composer and singer, had a long history with such CBC shows as the Juliette Show, Wayne and Shuster and the Tommy Hunter Show. In addition to playing trumpet in the band, Kennedy is a founding member of the Canadian Singers who will also be appearing in this concert. Originally an octet and now a vocal quartet, this group was established in 1994 with the goal of singing music by Canadian composers. They will sing works by both Cowell and Kennedy in this concert.
The fourth of the composers featured, and the youngest, is Breen. Still in his early 20s, Breen has been composing since his early days in high school. He plays baritone saxophone in the band, and will conduct his own Symphonic Overture for Winds.
Featured soloist for this concert will be trumpet showman John Edward Liddle. An honours graduate of the acclaimed Humber College music programme, for the past 30 years Liddle has pursued a varied musical career. From principal trumpet and soloist with many orchestras and concert bands in the GTA to smaller chamber groups as well as latin, jazz and dance bands, he has explored all facets of the trumpet repertoire. In his spare time Liddle conducts the Etobicoke Community Concert Band, the North York Concert Band and the Encore Symphonic Concert Band.
Among other works, Liddle will perform Graf’s three movement Trumpet Rhapsody and Cowell’s arrangement of La Virgin de la Macarena by legendary trumpeter Raphael Menez. In Cowell’s original composition Roller Coaster, a work for trumpet trio, he will be joined by band members Kennedy and Gord Neill.
We usually don’t receive much news about the concerts or other activities of the reserve military bands in Toronto, but one event has come to my attention that warrants mention. It’s a special “Veterans Appreciation Concert” by the naval reserve band of HMCS York. My career in the navy, which spanned a good many years in a variety of roles at sea and ashore, had its origins in music. It so happens that, while still in high school, I was enticed into a naval reserve band with the exalted rank of “Probationary Boy Bandsman.” While my time in the navy after high school did not involve music, I have always had a soft spot for naval and marine bands. This concert by the HMCS York Band will take place on Saturday, March 3 in Ajax.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t give an update on New Horizons Band activities. Locally, the Long and McQuade bands have now grown to four. Starting with one beginners group in September 2010, they have grown to two daytime and two evening groups for beginners and intermediate players now numbering 100 members. Now, under the umbrella of the University of Western Ontario New Horizons Band, a New Horizons Band Camp is scheduled for July at Brock University in St. Catharines. The intent is to bring together musicians from Canada and the U.S. as a way of celebrating the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. I’m sure that we’ll have more details in future issues, or visit
On a more serious note, it is with great sadness that we note the passing of Bette Eubank, a long time member of the Northdale Concert Band. In addition to playing as a regular member of the band’s flute section, Bette was always there when someone was needed to perform the many thankless non-musical jobs in the band. Bette also devoted much of her time to entertaining in seniors’ homes where she developed a special rapport with the residents. She departed much too early.
For the past couple of years we have featured a variety of wacky musical terms in this spot. For a change, this month’s is one that I encountered recently during a rehearsal. It is: Passissimo. I got no help from Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, the Oxford Companion to Music or such websites as www.MusicTheory.org.uk or www.thefreedictionary.com. Can anyone help?
Jack MacQuarrie plays several brass instruments and has performed in many community ensembles. He can be contacted at email@example.com.