According to my calendar, spring has arrived, but the weatherman seems to disagree. However, I did see and hear two musical signals to indicate that spring should be along soon. My first was the song of a bright red cardinal high in the tree out front here. My other was Toronto’s annual Saint Patrick’s Day parade. I must admit that I did not observe this parade from curbside. Rather, I watched and heard it from a 12th-floor balcony a short block away. Even so, one group stood out. It was not a fife and drum band and the members were not dressed in green. It was a front row of drums followed by a large band in bright red uniforms.
From my vantage point it looked for all the world like a typical U.S. college band. The only band that I knew of in this part of the country that I thought it might be was the Burlington Teen Tour Band. After a bit of research, I learned that it was the Philippine Heritage Band from Vaughan just northwest of Toronto. From their website (phband.com) I learned that they have a program not often seen. Primarily a youth band, it has, over the years, developed an adult concert band. From my experience, when members of a youth band grow to adulthood they usually move on to another adult group with little or no connection to the youth group. I hope to learn more of this in the months to come.
In my September 2014 column I reported on the very first North American Brass Band Summer School (NABBSS). Based on well-established and successful models in the United Kingdom, last year’s summer school was to be a trial. If successful, consideration would be given to make it an annual event. Having attended that inaugural school, and having returned home after ten days of invigorating and challenging music making, I personally declared NABBSS 2014 a success. We have just learned that the organizers are of the same opinion. So, based on the success of the 2014 course, NABBSS will be running again this summer with additional tutorial staff, a new rehearsal base and an increased Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo cast. NABBSS 2015 will once again be led by Robert Childs, principal conductor and musical director of the famous Grimethorpe Colliery Band. This summer Childs will also be joined by no fewer than eight top notch instructors from Britain, Canada and the United States. I suspect that by now registrations will be filling rapidly. Anyone interested should contact Craig Roberts, administrative director, the North American Brass Band Summer School (nabbss.com).
While on the subject of all brass bands, there is more good news. Having just returned home from their very first rehearsal, I’m pleased to report on the beginnings of a new brass band in the Newmarket area. As yet nameless, the band will rehearse Wednesdays from 7 to 9pm. For those who may have, at times, considered trying their skills in that genre, here’s the chance. For information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Again on the brass band front, we have just learned that the Weston Silver Band would be returning in mid-March to compete at the North American Brass Band Association (NABBA) Championship in Fort Wayne Indiana. Now in its 33rd year the NABBA championship is the oldest brass band contest of its kind in North America. We haven’t heard yet how Weston Band did.
On the concert front
On Saturday April 18 at 7pm the Clarington Concert Band will present “A Salute to the British Isles” at the Harmony Creek Community Centre, 15 Harmony Road North, Oshawa. In celebration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Holland the band will feature a medley titled Songs That Won The War. For part of the program they will be joined by the Pipes and Drums of the Oshawa Legion performing such favourites as Highland Cathedral and Scotland the Brave. The poster for this concert mentions that their special guest will be “Conductor Emeritus” Bobby Herriot. I don’t know whether or not Herriot ever conducted the Clarington Band, but I do know that he will be displaying one or more of his many talents as conductor, composer, arranger and trumpet player. I’m sure though that we will be treated to his inimitable brand of humour during this evening of musical tributes to England, Scotland and Ireland.
On Sunday April 26 at 2pm the Pickering Community Concert Band presents their spring concert “Music from Around the World” at Forest Brook Community Church, 60 Kearney Dr., Ajax. They will be joined by the St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church Choir from Ajax. The program will include such Caribbean, Asian, European and Latin American favourites as La Paloma, Jamaican Sail-Away, Lord of the Rings, Hot Hot Hot, Downton Abbey and Ride on the Cherry Blossom Express. Also featured on the progam will be Fanfare and Celebration by local composer and saxophonist Kristie Hunter.
On Friday May 1 at 7:30pm the Oxford Winds Community Concert Band nds Community Concert Band will present “Celebrating Heroes” at Knox Presbyterian Church, 59 Riddell Street, Woodstock. For more information go to oxfordwinds.ca.
CBA Community Band Weekend
The CBA’s Community Band Weekend this spring will be hosted by Cornwall’s Seaway Winds Band from May 22 to 24. Rehearsals and the concert will be held at the St. Lawrence College Aultsville Theatre in Cornwall. For details go to to cba-ontario.ca/cbaonew/community-band-weekend/.
On Saturday April 11 at 2pm the Toronto New Horizons group will present their “Chamber Suites” (which now appears to be an annual event) at 789 Dovercourt Road. In past years this has been where members of the various NH bands performed in small ensembles to an audience seated at tables. Previously, this was called “Chamber Sweets” because the audience had the pleasure of eating a wide variety of tempting delicacies while listening to the many small groups. With the name changed from sweets to suites, does that mean that the goodies have been discontinued? For a very nominal admission we can attend, enjoy the many musical offerings and perhaps enjoy Sweets. It’s always worth a visit and it is only a few steps from a subway station.
It is with deep sorrow that we report the recent passing of saxophonist Fred Duligal. While he often performed with the Canadian Jazz Quartet at Kama on King and many other local jazz groups, he was also known in the many “Rehearsal Big Bands” around Toronto. Over the years I often chatted with Fred when he appeared at one of my rehearsals. He will be missed.
On page 64 you will find a remembrance of French horn player Joan Watson. Although I don’t recall ever playing in any formal musical group with her, I have fond memories of the many chats we had prior to and during the International Women’s Brass Conference at Humber College five years ago. In fact, I can say that I did play in a musical group with her at least once. We and many others played in an attempt to get into the Guinness Book of Records as having the World’s Largest Brass Band that Sunday afternoon in June 2010.
This month’s lesser known musical term is pesante: An effect distinctly non-upper-class.
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 email@example.com.