Here we are on the cusp of the month of February, eager to know what’s in store for us in the year’s shortest month. There is always February 2 to look forward to, namely Groundhog Day, for prognostications about what to expect weather-wise in the coming weeks. However while our trusty Canadian groundhogs, Wiarton Willie and Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam are renowned for their weather forecasting, they have never told us anything about upcoming community musical events. Where can we turn for such information? Right here, one might hope to say, if we were hearing, with some regularity, from community musical ensembles regarding their coming events. Alas, such communication is rare. We have heard very little so far this year from the band world. Send your listings in, folks, and I will let readers know about them.

Novel Seasonal Celebration
It is quite common for bands to have an end-of-season party before the Christmas break. Such parties provide the opportunity for band members and their families to mix and meet. Spouses or partners get to meet band members other than their mates, and band members get to chat with other band members that they may see from a distance every week, but really don’t know. How often do tuba players chat with clarinet players, after all? This year the Newmarket Citizens Band took a different approach. They decided on a 45-minute open rehearsal where family and friends sat and listened. After that, all in attendance mingled and partook of several tables of tasty goodies arrayed on tables at one end of the band’s rehearsal room. Two birds with one stone, you might say.

Read more: Impeachment Polkas and Bugles (again!)

Last night, as I drove home after a rehearsal, I heard on the radio to expect a once-in-a-lifetime event at precisely 11:15pm – the most spectacular meteor shower in over 30 years. As I looked out of the window, though, I was barely able to see the road in front of me, through the dense fog. Now, sitting at the computer, staring at the screen, I am dealing with a dearth of information, unusual at this time of year, about happenings in the band world. Usually at this time of year, I would expect to receive quite a quantity of information on Christmas concerts, festive-season events or holiday shows. A temporary blip perhaps, or maybe just a sign of the busy times we live in. Since I can’t write about what I haven’t been sent, though, it gives me permission to write about what I like.

HMCS York Band (2019)Speaking of signs of the times

At a recent concert of the combined bands of HMCS York from Toronto and HMCS Star from Hamiton, I was stunned to see Lieutenant Commander Jack t’Mannetje sitting in the audience rather than on stage conducting. I then learned that Jack, who has been the Director of the York Band for many years, has been promoted. He is now executive officer of HMCS York, Navy lingo for second-in-command. It’s rare to see a military band conductor promoted to a position of command. Congratulations, Jack. As for the duties of band director, that falls to longtime band member, chief petty officer Maggie Birtch. Again, congratulations to Maggie.

Read more: Sound the Bugle!

Here we are midway through the last third of the year, and most community bands are busy rehearsing, for a variety of programs from formal concerts to Santa Claus Parades; the last thing that any band needs at this time of year is any disruption of rehearsals. Many community groups rehearse in schools, so for many bands in this part of the world there was near panic that these schools might be closed due to a possible labour dispute. Fortunately, at the very last minute the matter was settled. I, myself, received notices a few days later that all rehearsals would proceed as scheduled.

It was, however, a sobering reminder of a topic I have been known to occasionally rant about: the dilemma facing many community musical groups regarding rehearsal space. Most groups are tenants of schools, churches or community centres. Few have any real means of avoiding such matters. School music rooms are ideal rehearsal spaces, complete with music stands, and much of the heavier percussion equipment. However, most music teachers and many principals have concern for the safety of this equipment. I have known of a number of situations where a new music teacher, or principal, arrived at a school and expressed concern for equipment safety. All of a sudden, a band which might have rehearsed there for years, found themselves homeless. Even if they manage to obtain another kind of rehearsal space, where do they keep larger percussion instruments, stands and maybe music library?

Actually, we just recently heard of a good compromise. When the band Resa’s Pieces were told that the music room they had been using would no longer be available, they were offered a different, much larger room with no instruments or stands. With a bit of ingenuity the band was able to negotiate a compromise. Members of the band were given permission to construct a storage space at the end of the rehearsal room to store percussion equipment. Members still have to bring their own music stands.

Might it be time for community bands to be recognized as important components of the local culture and be accorded more assistance in obtaining and retaining a home?

Speaking of rants, I’d like to refer to one that I overheard at a rehearsal recently. One member of a band referred to it as the “band practice.” Another vigorously disputed the choice of words: stating that he was at “a band rehearsal.” The matter was eventually settled amicably; all agreed that they should “practice” at home to prepare for the “band rehearsal.”

Conspicuous cold weather commitment

Now, for coming band activities. When I first entered the band world, parades were an integral part of almost every band’s activities. My very first public performance was a Labour Day Parade. In smaller communities particularly, the town band was a major component of community activities. How often do community bands parade now? For many, the answer is never. We just received word from one of the few exceptions in this part of the world. The Newmarket Citizens Band (by their own admission, Canada’s oldest town band) has announced no fewer than three such events in the coming (chilly) weeks. These include a Remembrance Day Parade, A Candlelight Parade and Treelighting Ceremony, and Santa Claus Parade. For those who have never played their instruments on parade before, help is available from more experienced band members. That band even has a set of special cold weather band parkas as part of their uniforms. They look at these events as an important part of their community involvement. What percentage of community bands in our part of the world can match that?

Fanfarones“Blowhards” by name

On October 11, I had the pleasure of attending a very different type of concert from anything that I had ever experienced before, by an instrumental group I had never heard of before. Made up of 10 wind musicians, conducted by John Liddle, they call themselves “Fanfarones.” The first portion of the concert consisted of relatively familiar music including: Wedding Day at Troldhaugen from Grieg’s Holdberg Suite, Tango Op.165 by Albeniz, Jamaica Farewell by Irving Burgie, and excerpts from Rocky Mountain Suite by Canadian composer Pete Coulman. To end the first portion of the program, conductor John Liddle played Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust on his trumpet.

The second portion of the program featured the Fanfarones performing a new work, Canoe Dancing, by local composer Stu Beaudoin. Beaudoin’s original idea had been to produce a ballet, and Canoe Dancing could still be described as a dance-like programmatic musical journey. As the work progressed, its musical impressions of canoeing were reflected on two large viewing screens on either side of the stage, capturing the many different aspects of canoeing in the music. The pictures taken by Beaudoin himself, and fellow canoeing enthusiasts, portrayed both scenic beauty and the sometimes terrifying experiences of the canoeists in rough water: from views of canoeists gently paddling along tranquil waters at sunset to others struggling to stay afloat while trying to negotiate violent rapids with surf thundering over rocks on all sides. At times, audience members felt as though they were participating in a journey, with emotions ranging from tranquillity to terror. In all, a fascinating and entertaining performance, by a group worth knowing more about.

I contacted Helen Graham, one of the founding members of the group. Here’s how she described their birth: “Fanfarones was invented in 2012 as an experiment in sound, to add a pair of flutes to a wind octet. We decided it was more fun with ten, and so have kept with this formation. Core members at the time in 2012 were Tom Fleming, Bill Krangle, Helen Graham, Dorothy Ward and John Liddle. Our player-members are drawn from the wind sections of community orchestras across the Toronto area.

“The name Fanfarones is Italian for ‘blowhards,’ which we consider to be both a pun on wind players, and poking some fun at ourselves if we ever got too arrogant, given the English language meaning (somebody who boasts and brags). We also like to say that Fanfarones means “quirky, elegant music.” 

They perform music originally written for their instrumentation, as well as arrangements, and their programming ranges from classical through to modern day popular music. The earliest original piece for such instrumentation that they have found so far is a work by Donizetti.

All in all, Fanfarones are 11 musicians who celebrate beautiful music that surprises as well as delights. The group is comprised of pairs of flutes, oboes, clarinets, French horns and bassoons. Sometimes they refer to themselves as a “dectet.” The 11th member is conductor John Liddle, who on occasion plays trumpet with the group. In Helen Graham’s words: “We create a sonority that plays with a broad palette of instrumental colours. Orchestral musicians who also revel in that small group vibe, we provide quirky, elegant music.” 

Other News

As I have mentioned previously, for many years my contact with Silverthorn Symphonic Winds has been Heather Engli. Heather decided to make a drastic move to Wolfville, Nova Scotia a few weeks ago. She now tells me that she is loving Wolfville. She already has hooked up with Dan Kapp, of New Horizons renown, who moved there some months ago. She is also very busy playing with the Symphonic Band at the university and singing in a church choir. Dan Kapp also plays in the Symphonic Band and has invited her to play in the King’s County Community Band. It’s a great example of the social benefits of playing in musical groups, and of how one can find community through music.

Just Missed

As I write this, I am looking forward to the Wychwood Clarinet Choir’s Halloween concert “Creepy Clarinets” on October 27. Unfortunately, it will have passed by the time this issue is available. It includes Humperdink’s Overture to Hansel and Gretel; Moussorgsky’s Baba Yaga’s Hut and Great Gate of Kiev; Mancini’s; The Pink Panther and Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King.


NOV 2, 2:30PM: The combined Navy bands of Toronto’s HMCS York and Hamilton’s HMCS Star present their Remembrance Concert at the Cathedral Church of St. James, 106 King St. E in Toronto.

NOV 2, 7:30PM: Toronto’s Professional Flute Choir, Flute Street will be joined by special guests, Les Flûtistes de Montréal, at the Church of St. Peter and St. Simon-the-Apostle, 525 Bloor St. E. If you are not familiar with the variety of flute sizes, this is a great chance to hear them. From the usual concert flute this group includes alto flutes, bass flutes, contrabass flutes and even a giant sub contrabass flute. Compared to the regular flute, about two feet long, this instrument stands over six feet tall.

NOV 2, 7:30PM: “A Little Wind Music” by Upper Canada Brass will include Impressions by Paul Lovatt-Cooper, When Thunder Calls by Len Ballantine and Hannaford Street March by Kevin Lau. St. Paul’s Anglican Church-Innisfil, 3294 St. Paul’s Crescent St., Barrie.

NOV 23, 7:30PM: Silverthorn Symphonic Winds will present their fall concert at the Wilmar Heights Events Centre, 963 Pharmacy Ave., Toronto.

NOV 29, 7:30PM: The Newmarket Citizens Band will be at Newmarket’s historic Old Town Hall, 460 Botsford Street, to present their formal seasonal concert, ”Winter Fantasy,” with special guests, Marquee Theatrical Productions Elite Intermediate Youth Group.

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

As I sit down to produce this column I realize that we are dealing with the autumnal equinox. That means the official end to summer, or beginning of autumn. To be more precise, right at the time this issue is going to the printer, the official equinox will be occurring, at 4:02pm on Sunday, September 22. (Musicians aren’t always the only ones working on weekends.) In other words, even though there has been some beautiful weather, fall is here and it’s time for much new music making. That being said, while we have some information on what lies ahead in our musical world, so far my notes are still a bit of this and a bit of that, so I think that I’ll just consider this month’s column as Variations on a Non Existent Theme and dive right in.

Square Dealing

Happenings in my own personal musical world might be a place to start. Some days ago I came across a bulletin mentioning an open house at a local Masonic Lodge for local citizens to learn about how Freemasons have been part of our communities for centuries. One component of the emblem of Freemasonry is the square, one of the earliest working tools of craftsmen. It was, and still is, used to confirm the accuracy of right angles. Hence “Acting upon the Square” is a familiar metaphor for square and honest dealings with others.

So what does all of this have to do with music? As I looked at this emblem, I remembered hearing that there was a march titled On The Square based on some ceremonies of Freemasonry. Where to get information on this march? Where else but to Google! There it was, played by a number of different bands. I chose to listen to the version by a Band of the Royal Marines. For a few days after that I could not get that music out of my head. I had a chronic earworm. Then, a few nights later at a band rehearsal, what was the very first number that the director chose to rehearse? On The Square. Now that earworm was firmly implanted in my head, so it was time to confirm just what an earworm really is. Off to Wikipedia I went. There were a number of other terms, but the definition I liked there was “involuntary musical imagery,” where a catchy piece of music continuously repeats through a person’s mind after it is no longer playing.

How to stop an earworm? Initially I thought that there should be an “ear bird” like a robin that liked eating worms. Off to Wikipedia again. “Scientists at Western Washington University have found that engaging one’s working memory in moderately difficult tasks (such as anagrams Sudoku puzzles, or reading a novel) is an effective way of stopping earworms and of reducing their recurrence.” That’s great, but working on a Sudoku puzzle while driving, or reading a novel is a bit risky, I’d say. Several days later, On The Square still frequently returns to my brain. My decision so far: live with it; just try to let a whole library of tunes worm their way into my brain so I can change channels for variety.

For those interested, On The Square was composed by Frank Panella, a clarinetist in the Pittsburgh Symphony, sometime in the early 1900s. It is a very fine march and worthy of inclusion in a band’s library. And for any of you out there who have surefire cures for earworms, I am all ears!

From the files of Johann Cluttermeister

Once again, this month, I morphed into my occasional household “alter ego” of Johann Cluttermeister. This time I found an envelope postmarked May 21, 1973 “from the desk of Murray McEachern” in Mentone, California, promoting a new release of three records titled Music for Sleepwalkers Only. In the listing of selections in Vol. II of these records I was familiar with all of the selections, but the one tune that struck a chord with me was Too Little Time; written in 1950 by Henry Mancini, Too Little Time was the main theme in the 1954 movie The Glenn Miller Story. It was then off to my record collection to play my copy of this tune, (made early in the year 2000 by a band where I was a member). It did not get rid of my earworm, by the way, but at least I now had two different numbers in my earworm library.

The Music Lovers at Royal York. Photo by Joan AndrewsThe trouble with my Cluttermeister collection is that no sooner do I get rid of something in it, than something else comes along that needs to be added. I was recently presented with a photograph with personal relevance for me. A friend of a friend had found the photo in a pile destined for the scrap heap, and thought that it might interest me. It was of swing band called The Music Lovers, all decked out in blazers and gray flannel pants in a ballroom of the Royal York Hotel. Of the 17 members, I was only able to name three, other than myself! There I am, back row, far right! Adding a single photo to my collection of memorabilia shouldn’t be a problem, you’d think. Well, this case is a bit different. This full-colour photograph just happens to be three feet wide and two feet high mounted on 3/8-inch plywood. It won’t fit in any album here, and there isn’t any suitable wall space to hang it up.

One of my favourites in the world of classical music is Mozart’s Rondo Alla Turca. (one of many different spellings). While I have a recording of that work, I also have among my memorabilia an old Dixieland version with the name Mo Zart’s Turkey Trot. So much, for now, for the Cluttermeister collection.

Back to Bugles

More on my beef about bugle music on trumpets. On June 6 this year I attended a ceremony on the street in front of the home of a man named Fred Barnard to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Fred was one of only two or three men, from The Queen’s Own Rifles regiment, still living, who landed on Juno Beach in Normandy in 1944. Two months later I attended Fred’s funeral service. At the funeral there were many members of his regiment and the regimental association. During the service in the chapel there was the customary playing of The Last Post by a bugler at the rear of the chapel. I was stunned when I heard the first notes of this. I was hearing a real bugle, not a trumpet. There, in full uniform, was the bugler from The Queen’s Own Band playing on an excellent new bugle. It had been a very long time since I had heard such a beautiful tone and flawless playing.

I had to learn more about this bright silver bugle. A few weeks later I visited a rehearsal of the Band of the Queen’s Own Rifles at Moss Park Armoury and chatted with the man who played that bugle. It was not the old traditional copper instrument with brass trim around the bell. This was a bright silver instrument, and the big feature for me was that it uses a standard trumpet mouthpiece. One of the problems with the tradition copper bugle is that the mouthpiece has a very different shank than a trumpet. Consequently, most trumpet players are reluctant to play bugle calls on an unfamiliar mouthpiece. In this case any trumpet player just uses their regular mouthpiece. It’s a win - win situation. My next question was: where did they get this excellent bugle. All I have found out so far is that this bugle was made to order locally. I hope get more information on that soon and will pass it on to you when I do.

Concerts with Themes

Looking over information on recent and planned future concerts, it seems that they are now the usual standard format. In the past few months I’ve encountered such themes as: “Music based on Bach,” “A Night at the Oscars,” and “A Night at the Cinema.” Christmas is still too far away to to be rearing its head just yet. Halloween, though, is getting the definite nod. A recent flyer from the Markham Concert Band is for three concerts, all with themes. The first, on October 30 is “MCB’s Hallowe’en Party.” Then, on Sunday, October 27 the Wychwood Clarinet Choir will perform their fall concert with the theme “Creepy Clarinets.”

Programming themed concerts solves some problems, but also poses some dilemmas. In programming who are we trying to please, the audience, the conductor or band members? For band members at least, the limitations of library contents can become an issue when all the music on the chosen theme is at one level of difficulty.

Of the concerts on the near horizon that we have heard of, only one really states what an audience can expect. On Sunday, October 27 at 4pm The Wychwood Clarinet Choir presents “Creepy Clarinets” featuring Humperdink’s Overture to Hansel and Gretel; Moussorgsky’s Baba Yaga’s Hut and Great Gate of Kiev; Henry Mancini’s The Pink Panther; and Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King. With artistic director Michele Jacot conducting, this should be a very entertaining afternoon at the Church of St. Michael and All Angels, 611 St. Clair Ave. W. in Toronto.

Plumbing Factory Brass Band on Hiatus

Speaking of creative thematic programming, elsewhere in the band community, we have received sad news from Henry Meredith who officially announced just the other day that he has made the decision to suspend the Plumbing Factory Brass Band indefinitely. This band has presented nearly 60 different programs over the last two dozen years. This will be sad news for Brass Band fans. There will be no PFBB next season. As for the future, who knows? Henry himself certainly has a lot of musical irons in the fire. For one thing, there is his huge instrument collection which needs proper cataloguing if he is to find the museum home for it that it richly deserves. We’ll follow this next chapter in “Dr. Hank’s” life with interest, and report back.

Elsewhere, the Music Continues

Following are upcoming concerts we know about. Only the bare bones are here. All the details can be found in The WholeNote’s listings sections.


OCT 5, 7:30PM: St. George’s Cathedral. Metropolitan Silver Band. 270 King St. E., Kingston. Proceeds to the Cathedral Heritage Preservation Trust.

OCT 15, 7PM: Barrie Concert Band. Musical tribute to the veterans of the Canadian Forces and to those currently serving abroad or at home. Entertainment by the Skyliners’ Big Band will follow tribute. Royal Canadian Legion Branch 147, 410 St. Vincent St., Barrie.

OCT 20, 3PM: Weston Silver Band. In Concert. Guests: TorQ Percussion Quartet. Glenn Gould Studio.

OCT 20, 4PM: Guelph Concert Band. Masterclass Concert with Elisabeth Fessler (trumpet) and Cristian Ganicenco (trombone). Chris Cigolea, conductor. Salvation Army Citadel, 1320 Gordon St., Guelph.

OCT 23, 12:30PM: Don Wright Faculty of Music. Western University Symphonic Band. Paul Davenport Theatre, Talbot College, Western University, London.

OCT 27, 3PM: Church of the Ascension. Swing Shift Big Band: Memories of Yesteryear - The Big Band Sound.

OCT 27, 3PM: Hannaford Street Silver Band. Nine Daies Wonder. Guest: Mark Fewer, violin. Jane Mallett Theatre, St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts.

OCT 29, 8PM: Roy Thomson Hall. A Tuba to Cuba: Preservation Hall Jazz Band with Yusa and Special Guests.

NOV 1, 8PM: Etobicoke Community Concert Band. Radio Days. Alex Dean, saxophone. Etobicoke Collegiate Auditorium.

NOV 7, 7:30PM: York University Department of Music. York University Wind Symphony & York University Symphony Orchestra’s Preview Concert. Tribute Communities Recital Hall, Accolade East.

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

As I sit down to write this September column (the beginning of my 14th year), it’s the usual dilemma. Should I start with the events of the summer about to end, or the fall just over the horizon? And what about summers past? I think I’ll start there.

In case you haven’t been around to notice, outdoor concerts have changed. Having worked for many years as master of ceremonies at a variety of summer band concerts, I remember well concerts every Sunday, sponsored by Toronto’s Parks and Recreation Department at the Beaches Bandstand and in High Park, with concerts during the week at Allan Gardens and St. James Park.

My own summers usually ended, back then, operating the “world’s first” outdoor stereo sound system on the main bandshell at the CNE. My first season there was working with the late Sir Vivian Dunn and the Band of the Royal Marines, Plymouth Division. On another occasion, the National Band on New Zealand was featured. During the times when the featured band was not performing on the main bandshell, there were concerts on the CNE’s north bandstand by various bands from local Army and Navy Reserve units.

It has probably been some years since there have been such events with major feature bands at any outdoor facility in the Toronto area. However, community bands all over the province have been performing at a wide range of performance venues ranging from such large dedicated facilities as the Millennium Bandstand in Unionville (built in 2000) or the Rotary Aqua Theatre in Orillia’s Couchiching Park (built in 1958), to grassy areas in public parks. In the cases of the more formal bandstands, most usually have some limited seating and lots of space for audience members to bring their own seats.

Lest I start to sound too nostalgic, I should point out that while the more informal concerts on grassy lawns may be pleasant for audience members, they are not necessarily so for band members. Other than bad weather, problems can include uneven terrain for members to place chairs and music stands, bright sun in their eyes, winds to blow the music off their stands and the logistics of getting large instruments to and from the parking area to the performance site.

Just as there is much less formality in the venues, so too there is now a wide range of the delivery of the music, the dress of band members and conductors, and the means of announcing the music and soloists. During this past summer I have seen attire ranging from bands with everyone wearing rather formal uniforms with shirt, tie and band blazer to groups with shorts and a wide variety of tops.

As for audiences, times have also changed. Cell phones scattered throughout the audience are common as is the eating of treats. The photograph with this column is a case in point: the Encore Symphonic Concert Band at the Millennium Bandstand in Unionville, in garb that does not really match their prestigious name. And at least one audience member trying hard to let the music distract him from his ice cream.

The Encore Symphonic Concert Band at the Millennium Bandstand in Unionville. Photo by Jack MacQuarrieSummer repertoire has evolved as well. Years ago, bands always played at least one march by Alford or Sousa. Of all of the concerts this summer, where I either played or listened, there was not a single march. All of which brings up a favourite topic of mine: repertoire. Should it be purely based on the preferences of the conductor, the skills and interests of band members, or what they hope will appeal to their audiences on a given day? Two recent concerts were a case in point: as is popular these days one was thematic, with the title: “Music of the Cinema, Popcorn Not Included.” The other concert did not have a specific title, but was made up either of Beethoven music or music inspired by Beethoven. After the latter of these concerts, I asked a man how he liked the program. His reply: “Why would a band play Beethoven at an outdoor concert?” When asked what he would prefer, he stated that it should be obvious: “A band outdoors should be playing Sousa marches.” All of which brings up that recurring theme: “You can please some of the people some of the time, but you will never please all of the people all of the time.”

Buried Treasure

At some time every summer, I morph into my occasional household alter ego, Johann Cluttermeister, and start digging through many boxes of “sometime I must get around to it” stuff. I uncovered a few musical gems. The first was an advertisement from the Stratford Festival of a few years back, for a performance of H.M.S. Pinafore. There he was, a sailor in the uniform of the United States Navy, embracing a sweet young lady. What, pray tell, was an American sailor doing in a story aboard a Royal Navy ship?

Then it was music for a lesser-known bugle call, The First Post. Most people are familiar with The Last Post, but how many have ever heard of The First Post? Having served many years ago in a large Royal Navy ship, which was the Admiral’s Flagship, I became acquainted with many bugle calls. We had a full Royal Marine Band with many buglers aboard. We heard a multitude of bugle calls every day to announce certain routines. The First Post was one of these. And there it was, the music for this little-known bugle call! Off to Google I went. I typed in “bugle call The First Post.” Almost immediately, I heard this call played in its entirety as I followed it with the sheet of music in front of me, after which to my surprise and pleasure, I was treated to a succession of many British bugle calls.

Into another box, and out came a true gem: a well-worn small book of music, titled the Universal Band Primer. “The indispensable and VERY FIRST BOOK for all Young Bands” it proclaimed. Published by Hawkes & Son in 1912. Price: one shilling and sixpence. The first page covered the “Rudiments of Music” and consisted of a stave with the comparative value of notes and rests: wholenotes, half notes, quarter notes, etcetera, except that here they are called, respectively: semibreve, minims, crotchets and so on, down into quavers, semiquavers and demisemiquavers. As for the instrumentation: there are books available for saxhorns, G bass trombones and bombardons. It seems that there have been some changes in the band world over the past century.

Band activities

Usually, around this time of year, I received considerable information on band activities over the summer months. This year, not so, but with one notable exception. Joan Sax of the Richmond Hill Concert Band wrote to inform us of a concert series at a new venue: during the months of July and August, the Richmond Hill Concert Band presented “The Lake Wilcox Summer Concert Series” Sunday afternoons at 1pm on the Oak Ridges Community Centre terrace. These featured the five concert bands of York Region: the Aurora Community Band, the Thornhill Community Band, the Richmond Hill Concert Band, the Markham Concert Band and the Newmarket Citizens Band. Playing in one of these concerts gave me an opportunity to tour this new community centre adjacent to Lake Wilcox. It is an excellent and much-needed new facility with too many features to describe here. If I ever needed a reminder of how things have changed over the years, though, this was it! Some years ago, as a young boy living in Windsor, Ontario, with a population then of 100,000, I occasionally visited the little village of Richmond Hill. On my way to this community centre, we passed a sign welcoming us to the City of Richmond Hill, population 208,000.

Also by this time in past years, I would start to get notices of future band activities. This year I have not received a single notice of any coming events yet! If you, as a reader, are a member of a band, we would love to be informed of any coming events. For me to make mention of them in this column, we generally need them no later than the fifteenth of the preceding month.

Other happenings

Earlier this year, we attended a ceremony at Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square, where members of HMCS York, Toronto’s Reserve Naval Division, were commemorating the annual Battle of Atlantic Sunday. We were astounded to see six or eight members of the band in formal army uniforms. How could this be? It turns out it was that time of year where many communities were experiencing serious flooding and needed people to fill and position sandbags, and several band regular band members were away on extra emergency duties doing so. Members of one or more reserve army bands had therefore the HMCS York band’s ranks to form an unusual Red and Blue ensemble.

Warning! Groaners ahead

Question: What’s musical and handy in a supermarket?
Answer: A Chopin Lizst.

Question: How do you get a million dollars playing jazz?
Answer: Start off with two million.

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

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