Preparing to write this month’s column, no fewer than three announcements for significant events featuring Silver Bands landed on my desk. In order: the Hannaford Silver Band’s 6th annual Festival of Brass; the Weston Silver Band’s Concert with special guest Douglas Yeo (bass trombone of the Boston Symphony); and the Metropolitan Silver Band’s 75th anniversary celebration. My editor seemed to find this more significant than I did, so I took to the internet to find out if there were important distinctions between Silver Bands and Brass Bands.

“Silver Band” entered into Google produced tens of thousands of vendors of wedding rings. Searching “Brass Band” was more useful. If you didn’t already know, you’d have learned, inter alia: that with the exception of the trombones all of the brass are conical-bore instruments, which gives the British-style brass band its distinctive bright, mellow sound (as opposed to a dark symphonic sound); that the 1930s were the heyday of the brass band, with around 20,000 brass bands in the UK alone; that the modern form of the brass band in the United Kingdom dates back to the 19th century, with a vibrant tradition of competition based around local industry and communities; and that The Stalybridge Old Band was formed in 1809, was the first civilian brass band in the world, and is still in existence; and that ‘Silver Band’ and ‘Brass Band’ don’t carry the nuances that my editor was hoping to find. Personally, I have always been under the impression that many players preferred silver instruments in the belief that, since silver was a soft metal, the instrument would produce a more mellow tone.

While these coming weeks are certainly Silver Band weeks, they are also very much trombone weeks. The Hannaford Band’s Festival of Brass includes three solo trombone performances; two from the youth band ranks and one by none other than Joe Alessi of the New York Philharmonic. To top that off the guest conductor for the Alessi performance will be Alain Trudel.

If that weren’t a good helping of trombone, two weeks later Douglas Yeo, bass trombone of the Boston Symphony will appear as both conductor and soloist with the Weston Silver Band. As icing on the cake, that will be followed with a master class the next day at Long and McQuade’s main store. Doug Yeo’s website has a wealth of information, not just for trombone aficionados, but anyone with broad musical interests. Do yourself a favour and visit it at

In last month’s column we made reference to a few bands in Southern Ontario which have in recent years established “beginners’ bands” for adults.

Well, in my search for information on Silver Bands I stumbled across an interesting organization in Alberta, the Lethbridge Community Band Society. They operate two bands; The Gold Band and The Silver Band. “Gold Band is the original founding band. While personnel have changed over the years, the Gold Band takes on more demanding music, soloist performances and more advanced literature. Silver Band offers musical opportunities for adults who have not played in many years, and wish to ‘fine tune’ their skills. Weekly rehearsals are held. Attendance and preparation are expected. Concert schedules and content are less demanding that the Gold Band, but the benefits and pleasures of music performance are just as high.”

It’s a model worth contemplating.

Recognition: On March 10 the Mayor and Council of the Town of Markham held a special recognition ceremony to honour the Markham Concert Band. In addition to congratulations for winning the Ontario Band Association Gold Standard Award, special recognition was accorded band members for their continued contributions in the planning of the town’s proposed new recreation complex.

Coming Events

I’m going to mention only one of well over a dozen events here:

Sunday, May 3, 10:45 am The Metropolitan Silver Band under the baton of Conductor Fran Harvey celebrates its 75th Anniversary with a band prelude performance and worship service followed by a luncheon. Founded in 1931, and associated with Metropolitan United Church since 1934, the band invites alumni, current members, family and friends to join them. There will be special presentations, and displays of memorabilia. For details and/or luncheon tickets contact band manager Michele McCall at 905-916-1808.


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