p25_HannafordAs the notices started to arrive for December musical offerings, one trend was abundantly clear. Bands and smaller brass ensembles are getting together with choirs to celebrate the Christmas season. In December, more than at any other time of the year, concert programmes for all forms of musical organizations rely heavily on “seasonal music” and few bands resist the temptation to augment their forces. Of the December band concerts brought to my attention, and mentioned below under Coming Events, only two do not include choirs as guests.

The first such choir-and-band concert I had the pleasure of attending was the Hannaford Street Silver Band’s, with the Nathaniel Dett Chorale as guests early in November. That’s to be followed in succeeding weeks with offerings from a number of bands in the Toronto area as listed below.

Last year the Etobicoke Community Concert Band had planned on joining forces with the Village Voices choir of Markham. However, the forces of Mother Nature were stronger, and a massive snow storm forced the choir to cancel their participation in that event. The band will try again this year, with special guests the Kingsway Children’s Choir directed by Karen Sexton. As an added bonus, this concert will introduce a choir with a different ring. The Jubilate Bell Choir of Islington United Church under the direction of Steven Lundy will add the clear resonance only achieved with a choir of bells.

The one exception to this trend of a band sharing the stage with a choir, which has come to my attention, is that of the Markham Concert Band. Two years ago they had the Village Voices choir as their guests for their Christmas concert. This year they’re going contrary to the mainstream and, by promoting the idea of “two bands for the price of one,” will share the platform with the Chinguacousy Concert Band. By sheer coincidence, both bands just happen to share Doug Manning as their conductor.

Almost as though they felt obliged to reciprocate, two of the choirs mentioned above have smaller brass ensembles included in their own holiday season offerings. On December 12 the Village Voices are joined by the York Brass, and one week later the Amadeus Choir hosts the True North Brass.

How does this combination of chorus and band fare the rest of the year? Not very well. Could it be that there’s a dearth of compositions for modern concert band and chorus? In the classical repertoire there is certainly no shortage of excellent music for chorus and orchestra, but transcriptions of these works for chorus and band are almost non-existent. Original works for the combination are ever more rare. Isn’t it time for composers to write for such a combination?

At their most recent concert, the Hannaford Band, through their very active youth programme, announced the establishment of the Fred Mills Scholarship Fund. While I haven’t yet received details of this fund, I do know that its primary purpose will be to provide financial assistance for youth band members who could not otherwise afford to participate in the programme. Donations of any size will be appreciated. Anyone who has any questions about the value of this youth band programme would do well to attend any concert offered by the three bands under the direction of husband and wife team Darryl Eaton and Anita McAllister. One such event is the “Rising Star” solo competition for members of the Hannaford Youth Band. This will take place on Sunday, December 6 at 2:00 pm in Emmanuel College Chapel, 75 Queen’s Park Crescent.

Definition Department

This month’s lesser known musical term is A PATELLA “To play accompanied by knee slapping.” We invite submissions from readers.

COMING EVENTS | Please see listings for full details

The Etobicoke Community Concert Band
offer “Hits of Christmas Past and Present.

The Milton Concert Band sets the tone for the holiday season with “A Gift of Christmas.”

The Markham Concert Band welcomes the Chinguacousy Concert Band as special guests for “A Seasonal Celebration.”

The Hannaford Youth Band will perform with their guests the Cawthra Park Secondary School Chamber Choir.

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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