bandstand_jack_macquarrie_with_tuba_winter_2_1In last month’s column I speculated that many bands in our area would have a wide variety of events for the summer months. Nothing like the way it was,of course, when I started playing in a band many years ago, shortly after the dinosaurs had departed from the local scene. For us back then it was all about band tattoos in towns throughout Southwestern Ontario. There were the boys bands and the company bands (both now almost extinct) and the town bands. I remember well the Pressey Transport Company band, the Chatham Kiltie band and, most impressive of all, the White Rose Oil Company band from Petrolia, Ontario, in their elegant white uniforms. At the end of the summer it was, more often than not, the long bus trip to the Canadian National Exhibition to compete with other bands on the old North Bandstand. Local town band tattoos are now very rare, and the CNE no longer hosts such band events, but I had an inkling it would be a summer of relative plenty. So I sent a brief survey questionnaire to a number of bands located within an hour’s drive of Toronto. Are they travelling far afield for special events or are they hosting concerts on home territory?

Initially there was little response. So little, in fact that I started a “Plan B” column about a couple of events in which I was involved since last month’s column was written. The first of these was the York University Concert Band Festival. A series of individual workshops in the morning was followed by band workshops with coaching from a York University professor. This was followed by a reception where keynote speaker Bobby Herriot regaled the participants in his inimitable style. His very appropriate topic: Benefits of Being Involved in a Community Band. During the evening each of the participating bands performed short concerts with members of the other bands in the audience. The entire event was organized by York University music graduate students. Let’s hope that this will be the first of many such events.

The second event was a concert entitled “The Beat Goes On and on …” by the Toronto New Horizons Bands. Started in September 2010 with one daytime band, the local New Horizons program now has grown to two daytime and two evening bands. For their end of season event they returned to the CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio. In the formative stages I watched many people checking out various instruments to determine which should become their musical soul mate. Now, with over 80 members in the four groups, the spectrum of required instrumentation is well covered. Yes, they even have oboe, bassoon and bass clarinet, but alas the tuba has been neglected. So, you guessed it, yours truly was invited to participate as a guest. What an experience to play with each of the four groups individually, and then with all 80-plus members on stage. I didn’t see an empty seat in the hall. There were a lot of very proud family members in the audience that night.

So, what do our community bands do during the summer months?

Just as I was about to give up, the flood gates opened. From a new band less than a year old to one celebrating 140 continuous years of serving its community, they responded. Rather than risk any suggestion of favouritism, here is a synopsis in alphabetical order.

The Aurora Community Band, still in its first year of operation, has performances slated for the Aurora Farmer’s Market and a more formal concert at Trinity Church, Aurora.

The Brampton Concert Band and their companion Jazz Mechanics group have a host of special events in and around Brampton in addition to their regular Thursday Night Concert Series in Gage Park. As well as the regular concert series, the Jazz Mechanics Big Band will be playing at The Rex in Toronto and at the 24th annual Beaches International Jazz Festival. The Brampton Concert Band will also be hosting the Rocky Mountain Concert Band from Calgary. One of their last concerts will be entitled “O Canada: A Memoir” featuring the Pipes and Drums of the Lorne Scots.

The Clarington Concert Band has announced appearances in Port Hope, Orono and Bowmanville, so far.

The Columbus Centre Concert Band, now completing its second year, will be at Vaughan City Hall for Heritage Month on June 2, and then off to the Waupoos Winery in Prince Edward County for a wine and cheese celebration the following day. In July they will present a series of outdoor concerts at Villa Colombo in Toronto.

The Festival Wind Orchestra will present the final concert of its 15th anniversary season on Sunday, June 17, at the Betty Oliphant Theatre, 404 Jarvis St., Toronto. We have not heard of any other events for the balance of the summer. The program, titled “Then to Now: Celebrating 15 Years of Music,” is a trip back and forth through time, featuring music that was relevant from 1997 and 1998, the orchestra’s first full season, up to the present day.

Grand River New Horizons Music is another New Horizons group serving Kitchener-Waterloo and the surrounding area. They have far too many events to list here, but a few highlights deserve special mention. Saturday, June 23 is the Teddy Bear Parade in Listowel where they will play at the park as the teddy bears are marched up the street toward the park. Everyone is invited to join the parade with their teddy bears. Canada Day sees them at Doon Heritage Village dressed as an 1914 costume band with players wearing straw boater hats. Men will be in long sleeved blue and white striped shirts and baggy trousers. Women will be wearing white middy tops with blue trim and long blue skirts. The band will also be in 1914 costume in Palmerston for that town’s 100th anniversary of its Pedestrian Bridge.

The Markham Concert Band will be going to the Orillia Aqua Theatre once again this summer and also will be traveling to Fenelon Falls for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Fest. Last year, this band introduced a series of afternoon concerts on Markham’s Main Street with duties shared by several visiting community bands. This year there will be a similar series but they will shifted from the inflatable bandshell on Markham’s Main Street to the Unionville Millennium Bandstand.

The Milton Concert Band is gearing up for a busy June and July with several performances planned for both the concert band and their swing ensemble; Then the band will take a rest for the month of August. In addition to their free summer concert series at Victoria Park Gazebo in Milton, they will be appearing in the Burlington Sound of Music Festival at the Burlington Art Centre. On July 5, they play host to the Rocky Mountain Concert Band of Calgary, Alberta.

The Toronto New Horizons Band, after its successful concert at the Glenn Gould Studio will be gearing down somewhat. After one concert at Ryerson University, and a band party, there will be a few sporadic performances at retirement residences with ad hoc rehearsals as required. The band is already receiving calls from potential members wanting to know when the next new band will be starting. The beat does go on.

The Newmarket Citizens’ Band started this season off early with a parade for the opening of the local baseball season. As in past years, it will be participating in a variety parades and festivals and will make their appearance again at the Orillia Aqua Theatre. Early in June the band will be leading a “Stroll” down Newmarket’s Main Street to the town museum to herald the opening of an exhibit featuring the Band’s 140 years in the town. More anniversary events have yet to be finalized. In the meantime, if you are near Newmarket, drop around and have a look at the band’s 140 year history at the Elman W. Campbell Museum located at 134 Main St. S., Newmarket; hours are Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to noon and 1pm to 4pm and admission is free; call 905-953-5314 for more information.

The Northdale Concert Band reports only two major out of town commitments, so far, for the summer: an evening performance at the Orillia Aqua Theatre and a Sunday afternoon concert at the Stratford Outdoor Theatre.

The Pickering Community Concert Band, with many members away for most of the summer, has chosen to close down for the summer with no performances after July 8.

The Richmond Hill Concert Band will be at a Canada Day celebration for Richmond Hill at Richmond Green Park, and at the Markham Summer Concert Series at Unionville Bandstand.

The Scarborough Concert Band has told us of performances at the Scarborough Civic Centre and at a festival in Port Union.

The Thornhill Community Band will be performing at The Taste of Asia Festival, in the Markham Summer Concert Series at Unionville Bandstand and at Mel Lastman Square.

The Uxbridge Community Concert Band, now in its 21st season, is a summertime only band and they have just had their first rehearsal. As in past years their first performance will on Decoration Day at Uxbridge Cemetery with subsequent concerts at Palmer Park in Port Perry and at Trinity United Church in Uxbridge.

Definition Department

This month’s lesser known musical term is Tempo Tantrum: what an elementary school band is having when it’s not following the conductor. We invite submissions from readers. Let’s hear your daffynitions.

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

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