Clarington Concert BandNow that fall is here, information is starting to come in about the seasonal offerings of several community bands, some of them quite enticing and unusual, such as the concert offered by Clarington Concert Band on October 2 at 7:30.

The concert in question is Clarington’s annual evening of classical music, this year featuring works by Felix Mendelssohn.
It isn’t often that concert bands have string instrumentalists appearing as guests, but the Clarington Band does so quite regularly. For the third time the sanctuary of the Rehoboth Christian Reformed Church in Bowmanville, noted for its well-designed seating and exceptional acoustics, will be the scene of this year’s concert. Featured will be American violinist Andrew Sords and Canadian collaborative pianist Cheryl Duvall. This duo will, on this occasion, be joined by the exciting young American virtuoso cellist Sawyer Thomson. Another unusual note: it isn’t often that bands or orchestras give feature billing to an instrument. However, they are doing so this year, noting that Mr. Thomson will be performing on a rare Italian cello crafted by Giovanni Grancino in 1690. For more information, visit the band’s website at

Fanfarones: Every once in a while we get invitations to concerts and are unable to attend. That was the case recently when we learned of a concert (September 18 at the 918 Bathurst Centre)by a group we had not heard of before. Fanfarones is a double wind quintet who advertize their programs as “quirky, elegant music.” With a double wind quintet it is possible to have such combinations as oboe and English horn, piccolo and flute or clarinet and bass clarinet playing at the same time to broaden the range of colours. Having not heard the term fanfarones before, it was time to learn its meaning. According to the Oxford Italian dictionary the word “fanfarones” is a term from Tuscany meaning braggarts or loud mouths. One would assume that they are proud and willing to show it. The major work on their program was Rocky Mountain Suite by Toronto composer and arranger Peter Coulman.

Cobourg: Last year and the year before, we had the pleasure of joining up with the Cobourg Concert Band on their annual visit to Plattsburgh, New York, and their participation in the ceremonies commemorating the final battle of the War of 1812. Last year’s Bandstand column (October 2014) lamented that it had “rained on our parade.” This year we stayed home, and we have just been informed  that the weather was absolutely perfect. Is there a hidden message in that news?

North Durham: Although we rarely here from them, we have just heard from The North Durham Concert Band. They have started another season with rehearsals in Port Perry and have the welcome mat out for new members. They rehearse 7pm to 9pm every Wednesday, September to May. For information go to

CBA: In recent years the Canadian Band Association’s  Ontario Chapter has sponsored the CBA Community Band Weekend. The next such weekend will take place October 16 to 18. The host band this year will be the Mississauga Pops Concert Band. For information go to or

Markham Concert Band: As part of the Markham Theatre’s 30th Anniversary Gala on Sunday, October 18, the Markham Concert Band will perform not one but two concerts at 2pm and 7 pm. For information go to Included in the program will be Haydn Wood’s Mannin Veen, a rarely heard classic of the concert band repertoire. Wood was an accomplished violinist and a prolific composer of a wide range of musical styles including some 180 songs. One of these was Roses of Picardy which he wrote for his wife, soprano Dorothy Court. Wood was born in a small English town and at age 3 his family moved to the Isle of Man. The tone poem Mannin Veen (Manx for Dear Isle of Man) is based on four Manx folk melodies. It is one of only two of his works which were written specifically for wind band. 

The early part of the twentieth century saw the evolution of the concert band into such groups as those of John Philip Sousa, Edwin Franko Goldman and Guiseppe Creatore which toured the world. With the advent of radio and television such major professional bands largely disappeared. Fortunately there are in many countries true “world class” military concert bands. The bands of the Royal Marines, the US Marines, the Garde Républicaine, the Belgian Guides, the Carabinieri da Roma and many others are in that category. Unfortunately few composers of note have turned their talents towards the writing of serious works for such instrumentation.

In Search of Repertoire: Although great bands existed in the early part of the twentieth century, few composers considered writing music for such instrumentation. When bands wanted to perform concert overtures, suites and such larger works they had to turn to transcriptions of orchestral music. This frequently resulted in the need to compromise because of the problems arising for wind instruments having to play music intended for string instruments. In the early 1920s, lamenting the dearth of such music for bands, the Royal Military School of Music at Kneller Hall commissioned composer Gustav Holst to compose some music to fill the void. The Holst Suites in E-Flat and F were the result of that collaboration. Add to that a few works such as the Vaughan Williams Folk Song Suite and you have almost exhausted the repertoire.

In a recent personal search I decided to try to find some information on an excellent work that I knew of in this category but had not heard in years. I first heard composer Carl Friedemann’s Slavonic Rhapsody years ago on a double-sided 78 rpm recording. On this old record was a stunning performance of this work by the Massed Bands of the Aldershot and Eastern Commands of the British Army. All I could find was a performance on YouTube. If you hear of a work and would like to assess its suitability for your band, it’s now possible to get a good idea with a little Internet search. But be warned! The results will range anywhere from excellent to painful.

Royal Marine Bands: Earlier, I mentioned Royal Marine Bands as being top-notch. I have heard that a band of the Royal Marines will be coming to Toronto late this fall. Having served in the Navy aboard a British ship which just happened to be an admiral’s flagship, I regularly was treated to music of the Marine Band which we had on board. Some time later, back in Canada, I had the pleasure of operating the sound system for the Band of the Royal Marines Plymouth Division at the CNE Bandshell for two performances a day for two weeks. It’s safe to say that I happen to have a special affinity for Royal Marine bands and their music. So far there are no details, but I believe that this band may be performing in Roy Thomson Hall.

Setting the Bar Too High? Over the years I have often played with groups which have held their rehearsals in the music rooms of schools. In such cases it is not uncommon to read the notice boards to see what is being passed on to the future musicians of our country. These frequently have the rating systems by which the students are ranked. I have been accustomed to seeing bronze, silver and gold. In recent years some have added the category of platinum to indicate a level superior to gold. This summer I saw the latest extended ranking system. That school had band achievement awards: bronze, silver, gold, platinum, titanium and unobtainium.

What’s In a Name? In recent times it is increasingly common to hear of wind groups being called a variety of terms including “choir.” How did this come about? Having consulted The Oxford Companion to Music, the Oxford Dictionary and Webster’s Dictionary, I could not find any reference to any instrumental music. They all refer only to human voices. Wikipedia does refer to choirs of instruments, but only as a subset of a larger group. As an example they refer to “the woodwind choir of an orchestra.” If any readers have information on this trend please let us know. In a recent conversation with Michele Jacot, conductor of the Wychwood Clarinet Choir, she had no answer. In fact she expressed the possibility of a name change because she was getting questions as to the kind of ensemble she directs.

Bandstand_-_WholeNote_Cake.pngMusical jokes. A few days ago on September 25 at Trinity-St. Paul’s Centre this magazine held an amazing concert/reception to celebrate 20 completed years of The WholeNote. During the evening’s program Sophia Perlman talked about how the song she had written and was about to sing was a musical joke (as in making a sly reference to a previously composed piece of music). It put me in mind of that other kind of musical joke, namely the groaner, for which, as regular readers of this column can attest, I have a fondness. So here’s one:

A boy is about to start music lessons at school. His mother goes with him to meet with the music teacher. She insists that the boy must start his music training on the tuba. When the teacher asks why she is so insistent about the tuba, she says: “ I know he can be led astray and I don’t want him to get into any treble.”

Keep them coming: Whether it be musical jokes, daffynitions, or just interesting news about your band’s upcoming events and activities, keep them coming! We are always interested to hear from you. 

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

(from left to right) Members of the Orono Cornet Band playing rotary valve trombone, bass saxhorn, ophicleide and helicon.Well summer, what there was of it this year, is almost over. What a difference from last summer in my musical life. Last summer we (Joan and I) drove  to Halifax for the very first North American Brass Band summer school, which included playing in all performances of the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo. Even though that was a very rewarding experience, this year we decided to stay closer to home and explore some local musical offerings. This included playing in a few concerts, but the variety came from a few quite unexpected sources most of which wouldn’t really qualify as band events.

The first of these took place in early July when we were invited to attend a concert by students of the Durham Music Camp. This was not a band concert. Rather it was an end of year performance of children as young as six performing on violins and cellos. To see six year olds take up centre stage and perform, from memory, with all of the aplomb of someone four times their age certainly reassured us that we will have a good supply of musicians in years to come.

Two weeks later we were treated, by the older generation of musicians, to an unusual big band jazz event. Organized by French horn player James MacDonald, a former member of the very first Boss Brass, we attended a concert by “Amis du Jazz - Encore,” as they styled themselves that day. The 20 member Rex Hotel Orchestra, led by John MacLeod, performed on the back deck of James MacDonald’s house in Port Perry as members of the audience relaxed under the trees in the back yard. There were a few members of the group (clarinetist Bob DeAngelis and trombonist Alastair Kay in particular)  whom I remembered from the days, more than thirty years ago, when they were star performers in high school band festivals.

Adding a bit of variety to the summer’s offerings, we also took in an amazing amateur performance of the musical A Chorus Line, followed a few days later with a block “Birthday Bash” for a neighbour celebrating a milestone. Although not exactly to my taste, there was lots of folksong playing by the guest of honour and friends.

(As you will see, it was a chance encounter at the second of these summer musical forays that led to the main story in this month’s column. But first a roundup of other band news.)

New bands: I am in the fortunate position of being able to announce the establishment of two new bands in the Toronto area. The first is a new concert band which is forming for seniors in Oakville. As yet we haven’t heard of a name for this band, but they say that they are looking for beginner/intermediate musicians who have played in their youth or new musicians who need a concert band setting to hone their craft. They meet every Monday evening(except holiday Mondays) year round. Unlike some other bands, they will not be going on break during the summer. For information contact Russ Abbott at 905-465-3352

The other new group is an all brass band called The York Brass Ensemble. They are scheduled to start rehearsals in September on Wednesdays from 7:00 to 9:00 pm at the Alexander Muir Residence in Newmarket. For details contact Peter Hussey at

Open Rehearsal: About to begin their second full season, The Toronto Concert Band is inviting  adult musicians from across Toronto to sit in with them as they kick off rehearsals for their second concert season. Amateur community players, post-secondary students and professionals who want to play in the community are all welcome. Under the musical direction of Ken Hazlett and Les Dobbin, the Toronto Concert Band has local roots in Etobicoke but far-reaching musical goals. Anyone interested is asked to pre-register by phoning 647-479-2941 or visiting their website:, The first rehearsal is September 22 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm at Lambton Kingsway Junior Middle School, 525 Prince Edward Drive.

Returns: The summertime only group, the Uxbridge Community Concert Band wound up this season with another of their theme concerts on August 29. This year’s theme was Music of the Night with selections ranging from Mozart’s “Queen of the Night” aria and selections from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera.

The Toronto New Horizons group will be establishing yet another new band termed Beginner Level II for people joining who want a more challenging level. Anyone interested is invited to attend their Instrument Explorations night on Friday, September 25 from 7 to 9pm at the Long and McQuade main store 925 Bloor St. W in Toronto. For anyone who has thought about playing in a band, here’s a chance to check out any instruments that have interested you and decide which would be the one for you. All classes beginning the week of September 14. Scheduled dates and times are on their website: and classes will be held at the Salvation Army Hall, 789 Dovercourt Rd., until further notice.

Herb Poole, artistic director of the band; “I love to play an instrument I can wear,” says Herb.The Orono Cornet Band: While I was at the aforementioned Amis du Jazz concert in Port Perry I bumped into two friends that I hadn’t seen for some time. I first met Dave Climenhage about twenty years ago in the Clarington Concert Band. I first met Herb Poole over thirty years ago while playing in the Metropolitan Silver Band. They invited me to a concert by the Orono Cornet Band in the town of Orono, where Dave Climenhage had organized the Great Canadian Town Band Festival (GCTBF) in Orono from the year 2000 to the year 2005.

For six consecutive years this festival brought together some of the finest brass and woodwind ensembles in Canada and the U.S. such as The Boss Brass, The Hannaford Street Silver Band, The True North Brass, The Spitfire Band and The Central Band of the Canadian Armed Forces. It also hosted guest artists like conductor and trombone virtuoso Alain Trudel.

After the annual festival was discontinued, the Great Canadian Town Band Festival still existed as an entity in name. Dave  was looking for a project that would bring alive Canada’s musical heritage and further the objectives of the GCTBF. He still had the charter for the GCTBF and the desire to continue in some fashion. He was a long time collector of brass and woodwind instruments and eventually linked up with fellow collector Herb Poole, bass trombonist with the Canadian Opera Company.

Together they began to work on the idea of a Heritage Brass band that would recreate the 19th century Brass Band movement in Canada. From the early 1850s on, the saxhorn band concept (12 brass instruments) had spread to almost every town and village in Canada. This movement began in France and England in the 1840s and quickly spread all over Europe and North America. These newly developed valved brass instruments were relatively easy to learn to play and could play any notes on the chromatic scale. They became the mainstay of musical performance in Canada, which did not have a classical orchestral tradition at the time. These bands performed at local dances, in parades and at all civic events including July 1 which later became Canada Day. In short it was the music that was most accessible to Canadians from 1850 to the end of the century.

Herb and Dave decided that they would hire professional brass players from the GTA who were interested in taking up the challenge of performing on 150-year-old instruments and who were willing to work with them as they  tried to establish an audience for the brass music of  19th century Canada. Herb recruited musicians from the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra and a number of top level freelance brass players from other GTA ensembles.

The aim of the Orono Cornet Band is to recreate a 12 piece brass band of the Confederation period in Canada to perform on period instruments and to play music composed in Canada or known to be regularly performed in Canada. Gathering Canadian  music of the period took time. As they looked at brass band music collections from the period, it was clear that most of the music they performed came from American publishing companies. They worked hard to glean from these sources important works by Canadian composers such as Calixa Lavallee (Marche Indienne). They have also found music originating outside Canada but performed regularly here, such as popular marching songs like The Girl I Left Behind Me.

Herb Poole is the band’s artistic director and has sourced music with very distinct Canadian period content. The instruments the band performs on come from Herb’s and Dave’s collections and were built in the period 1850 to 1870. Many of these were restored by Herb. They are both constantly researching historic events for important music. The Battle of Ridgeway in 1866 is one such event, for example. It resulted in the composition of The Maple Leaf Forever and the words to the Canadian Militia Fenian Marching Song. They hope to perform these at a re-enactment of the Battle of Ridgeway in June next year.

The band has been performing now for over five years. They have performed at heritage events each of those five years, including the V-Brass festival at Toronto’s Harbourfront, Clarington’s Heritage Festival and the RCMP Musical Ride. For the RCMP Musical Ride they performed music of the Band of the Royal Northwest Mounted Police at Fort MacLeod, Alberta, first performed in 1876.

They are currently working on getting people to know about the Orono Cornet Band and have completed their first recording. They also have a new website at with videos and soundtracks. It’s worth checking out that website.

Definition Department

This month’s lesser known musical term is stringendo: An unpleasant effect produced by the violin section when it doesn’t use vibrato. 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

It would appear that, after a few false starts, summer may have arrived. As we view the news of band activities for the next few months, there are all manner of concerts planned by bands throughout Southern Ontario, but they are almost without exception by individual bands.

This is in stark contrast to when I first started in boys’ bands. Our summer was filled with parades and many local multiple-band tattoos in surrounding communities. Outdoor band festivals are now few and far between in this part of the world. The most recent such event that I can recall in this part of the country was the Great Canadian Town Band Festival which was held for a number of years, ten years ago or more, in the small town of Orono. Throughout its existence, I was active in this festival. Its demise was not due to lack of interest on the part of participants or audiences. Rather, after a few years the organization and operation became too much for the small cadre of volunteers. Although there was consideration given to moving the festival to another larger community, this never materialized. Whether they are called band tattoos or band festivals, these kinds of outdoor events involving a number of community bands haven’t even been relegated to history books. They just seem to have passed into oblivion.

Not only were there tattoos in former days, but there was a wide variety of other outdoor band events, both amateur and professional. I can still remember the fascination of a circus band with a diverse array of performers parading down a city’s main street. In fact, for a time, one of my boyhood ambitions was to play in a circus band. It seems that the only large outdoor events with bands to be seen now are those overwhelming halftime shows of American football games with all of the extra non-musical hoopla.

NABBSS: You may recall that at this time last year our household was gearing up for a trip to Halifax and participation in the very first North American Brass Band Summer School (NABBSS). As part of this summer school we were also participants in the 35th Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo. With many hundreds of professional-level participants from Canada, the United States and several European countries performing for ten days in a packed arena, this event is a far cry from the local amateur tattoos referred to earlier. Even these large-scale events are increasingly few and far between. I have not heard of single such event in Ontario for some years. While we are not able to participate in this year’s NABBSS, I am sure that it will be as rewarding as last year’s was. The school will run from June 26 to July 8. When I last checked, there were still openings. Inquiries should be addressed to

Further Reminiscences: For years a major attraction at the CNE was the featured guest band at the main bandshell. For a few summers I had the pleasure of operating the sound system on that main bandshell. In particular, I had the privilege of working for two weeks with Major F. Vivian Dunn, later Sir Vivian Dunn. Prior to every concert of the Band of the Royal Marines Plymouth Division, he would discuss all of the music to be performed and just which instruments were to be given proper microphone pickup.

By a somewhat strangely routed train of thought (but bear with me), this reminds me of a famous but rarely seen ceremony, called Beat the Retreat, the origins of which date back to the reign of James II of England (James VII of Scotland) in the late 1600s, a time when drums were a major means of communicating with troops. It was a time when wars were mostly carried out in daylight hours, and the beating of drums was the signal to retreat at the end of a day’s fighting. Over time, beating the retreat became a more elaborate ceremony, where the Captain of the Main Guard would have his drummers beat the signal which would then be repeated by drummers of each regiment. Many years later, of course, armies obtained more sophisticated means of communicating, but by then Beating the Retreat had been established as an important ceremonial event.

The Royal Marines in particular have retained the ceremony, along with saluting their ceremonial head who is bestowed with the title of Captain General. Most recently that has been His Royal Highness Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh. Every three years the Massed Bands of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, with some 200 musicians on parade, perform their Beat the Retreat ceremony at London’s Horse Guards Parade in celebration of the birthday of their Captain General.

That is where Major Dunn comes in again! The year after he and his band performed at the CNE bandshell, he wrote The Captain General march to honour then Captain General, His Majesty King George VI. Three years ago I had the pleasure of reviewing Saeculum Aureum, a 2CD set, performed by The Band of The Royal Regiment of Canada. The Captain General, a stirring march with amazing counter-melodies, was one of the finest selections on that recording.

Bandstand-Mario.jpgMario Canonico: The community band world has lost another of its most dedicated members. Mario Canonico, a longtime member of the Newmarket Citizens Band, passed away May 16. Born in the Aosta Valley in the northwestern part of Italy, Mario started his musical adventure on violin at the age of nine. He began playing saxophone in his early 20s and soon added the clarinet. From Italy the family moved to Ecuador for a few years before coming to Canada in 1967. Settling in Montreal, he worked as a barber during the week and spent his weekends as a jobbing musician playing a wide variety of events including weddings and bar mitzvahs. Moving to Newmarket in 2000, he soon had a regular spot in the clarinet section of the Newmarket band. Until about three months ago he was playing regularly in three other musical groups besides the Newmarket band, including a small ensemble called North of Dixie. In addition to music and family he had a passion for cycling, averaging 50km per day. His last bicycle ride was on a warm sunny day last October at age 82. Just a few weeks ago the members of North of Dixie went to his house to entertain him. Although gravely ill, Mario danced up a storm with his wife, Delfina, and with his daughter and granddaughter. This photograph was taken on that day by John De Fusco.

Coming Concerts:

June 4 at noon the Encore Symphonic Concert Band will present “In Concert: Classics and Jazz” at the Wilmar Heights Centre, 963 Pharmacy Ave., Scarborough.

June 6 at 7:30 the Barrie Concert Band will present “Let’s Celebrate Barrie!” a multimedia concert celebrating Barrie’s history at Hi-Way Pentecostal Church, 50 Anne St. N., Barrie.

June 12: A few months ago I had the pleasure of attending the premiere concert of the Toronto Concert Band. To wind up their inaugural season they will be returning to the excellent performance venue of the Glenn Gould Studio on Friday, June 12, at 7:30pm. Since their very first rehearsal less than nine months ago, founding conductors Ken Hazlett and Les Dobbin have set a high standard. This season-ending concert will feature an eclectic mix, from Camille Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals to Warren Barker’s Selections from Les Miserables with many challenging numbers filling out the program. The band’s tag line “We Love to Play!” should be spelled out musically at this concert.

June 14 at 7pm the Strings Attached Orchestra will be presenting their year-end concert at the George Ignatieff Theatre, 15 Devonshire Place (just southwest of Koerner Hall). Among other things, they will be performing the orchestral premiere of Montreal a short work by former OECD head and Pierre Trudeau-era cabinet minister Donald Johnston. Also on the program will be Vivaldi’s Concerto Grosso Op. 3 No.11 with soloists from within the group.

These are a few community ensemble events where we received some program details. There are too many more than can be mentioned here. Please see the listings section for the times and locations of these many other events.

Definition Department

This month’s lesser known musical term is: rubato: a cross between a rhubarb and a tomato. 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

A couple of weeks ago, having been lulled into complacency by a few warm sunny days, I was under the impression that spring had arrived. A few days later that illusion was shattered by the sight and sound of hail clattering on my windshield. Last night, on my drive home from a performance, I found myself humming the strains of Spring will be a little late this year only to have that confirmed when I drove in to a snow-covered driveway. Fortunately, through all of this, the community musical groups have been heralding spring in a variety of ways. I had the pleasure of attending a few of these.

Recent events: One such concert was “A Salute to the British Isles” by the Clarington Concert Band under the direction of Barrie Hodgins with the Pipes and Drums of the Oshawa Legion. What a variety. From the humour of conductor emeritus Bobby Herriot and the elegant vocal stylings of Donna Lajeunesse and Father Paul Massel to the stirring renditions of traditional Scottish melodies by the pipes and drums it was an evening to be remembered, MC’d by Colin Rowe.

With the  concert being billed as “A Salute to the British Isles,” there were questions as to how the Radetzky March, a march composed for the Austrian army by Johann Strauss Sr., qualified as British music. After all, this march was dedicated to Field Marshal Joseph Radetzky von Radetz after his victory at the Battle of Custoza. It turns out that, over the 165 years since its first performance, this march has been adopted as their official march by several military units in various countries around the world from Chile to Sri Lanka. One of those military units just happens to be 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards in Britain. The Radetzky March is their official regimental march. Ergo: it’s British music.

Needless to say, there was the inevitable clapping and foot stomping by the audience. It turns out that this too has a long tradition. When it was first played in front of Austrian officers, they spontaneously clapped and stamped their feet. This tradition is kept alive today by audience members around the world from town band concerts to the New Year’s Concerts of the Vienna Philharmonic.

2008_-_Beat_-_BandSTAND.jpgFlute Street: If one were to hear the term “flute street,” one might be inclined to consult the town street guide to find its location. A visit to Google could not find any street by that name in this area, but there is a fine flute ensemble in Toronto by that name. Initially formed by Nancy Nourse and Allan Pulker in 2013, as the resident ensemble for Canada’s First National Flute Convention, the group has established a special place in the musical life of Toronto. While music aficionados are familiar with the concert flute and its baby brother, the piccolo, Flute Street has been introducing audiences to several other members of the flute family. I had seen and heard alto flutes and bass flutes before, but Flute Street’s recent concert, “And the Giant Began to Dance,” introduced me to the six-foot-tall contrabass flute. I not only saw two of these, but was introduced first hand to an even bigger member of the family. Guest artist Peter Sheridan presented us with the subcontrabass flute, which was taller than anyone present, Sheridan included.

As for the concert, we were treated to a wide range of offerings from solos to works including the entire ensemble. My personal preferences were numbers featuring Sheridan on the bass flute and the contrabass flute. His warm tone and melodic phrasing on the bass flute displayed the potential of this instrument better than I had ever heard. While the subcontrabass flute did add an interesting bottom end to the ensemble, it didn’t appeal to me as a melodic solo instrument except for its novelty value. Sheridan informed us that he has just recently introduced the ultimate low-register flute. I believe that it is called the hyperbass flute with a lowest frequency of 16 Hz. He admits that this is below the audible range of his wife and many other people, but given the right circumstances it can be felt physically if not heard.

Newly unusual: Before leaving the topic of unusual musical instruments, I feel compelled to report on a recent radio program on the CBC. It was a presentation of newly crafted unusual musical instruments. The one that sticks in my mind was a large wind instrument which required two players. In the demonstration, the developer blew into the mouthpiece and operated a slide while his wife operated a set of valves. While the sound was of questionable quality, the name had a certain quirky appeal. It has been named the Humungaphonium. I have yet to see a photograph.

Tsar Trek: While miserable weather prevented me from attending their recent spring concert, the Plumbing Factory Brass Band warrants ongoing mention in this column for their imaginative programming. Following up on their previous concert, Henry Meredith crafted “Tsar Trek II – The Sequel” on their “Rousing Russian Repertoire Voyage.” Not only does this band perform to a high standard, they also set a standard which is hard to match in terms of programming of top quality music. I’m sorry that I couldn’t be there.

Uxbridge: Italian composer, Luigi Boccherini has been quoted as saying that “Without the performer the composer’s work is useless.” It would be hard to dispute that, but performers can be assisted considerably by their own careful preparation and that of the conductor. An excellent example of how a conductor may foster good preparation has recently come to my attention. The Uxbridge Community Concert Band is a summertime-only band with activities from early May until late August. Two months before rehearsals were scheduled to begin, conductor Steffan Brunette started with those preparations. Not only did he send a complete list of the proposed repertoire for the season to every returning band member, but he provided internet links to performances of every work. As long as members had internet access they could go to every number in the repertoire and listen to quality performances as often as they might wish.

Music Alive: I had heard of Music Alive before, but must confess I wasn’t quite sure just what it entailed. Suddenly, a few days ago, I received a phone call: The Newmarket Citizens Band was to play at Music Alive that night; was I available to sit in and fill a gap? A few hours later I was treated to an unexpected musical event. Music Alive is an annual festival open to all school and community ensembles and soloists operating within York Region, including public and private schools plus community bands, orchestras, choral ensembles and individual musicians. For 2015 it has an incredible assortment of musical groups and performances. With over 15,000 participants and sessions stretched over ten weeks, Music Alive is one of the largest student music festivals in the country.

This is an adjudicated, but non-competitive festival. The evening that I was there, I was with the only adult group. The main group performance was by the “Area West Elementary Enrichment Band” made up of 80-plus elementary school students. In addition, there were numerous solos and small group performances by students from Grades 5 to 8. One particular number stood out for me. Girls on two flutes and a clarinet performed amazingly well on a well-known Handel selection.

Adjudicator John Phillips, a professor from the University of Western Ontario, provided helpful inspiring comments to all participants. After we (the adult band) played our two numbers, Phillips pointed out to the young elementary school musicians how our performance was an example of one way that making music can develop into a stimulating lifelong activity.

On the horizon: On Sunday, May 24, at 3:30pm the Wychwood Clarinet Choir will present “Swing into Spring.” The feature of the afternoon will be the induction of Howard Cable as composer and conductor laureate of the choir. Cable, a member of the Order of Canada, is one of the most significant and internationally recognized Canadian arrangers and composers. With a musical career spanning more than 60 years, he has had his works performed worldwide. Cable has been composing and arranging for the Wychwood Clarinet Choir since 2012. The program will feature a selection of swing favourites arranged by Cable for the choir and young crooner Michael Vanhevel. Also on the program is an all-clarinet rendition of Rhapsody in Blue, the premiere of Three Excursions, an original composition by Roy Greaves, and Clarifunkation by Paul Saunders. Artistic director and clarinet soloist is Michele Jacot. This all takes place at the Church of St. Michael and All Angels, 611 St. Clair Ave, W.

On Saturday, May 30 at 7:30pm, Silverthorn Symphonic Winds will conclude their 2014/2015 concert season with “Year of the Dragon.” Highlights include James Hosay’s dynamic Mayan Sports Festival, Philip Sparke’s virtuosic Year of the Dragon and Adam Gorb’s Yiddish Dances, a contemporary classic based on the klezmer tradition. The concert takes place at Yorkminster Citadel, 1 Lord Seaton Road, Toronto.

Bands we haven’t heard from for some time:

Friday, May 1 at 7:30pm the Oxford Winds Community Concert Band will be “Celebrating Heroes” at Knox Presbyterian Church, Woodstock.

Wednesday, May 6 at 7:30pm the North Durham Concert Band is having a “Springtime Serenade” at the Port Perry United Church.

Friday, May 8 at 7pm the Canadian Band Association presents “Windblown Art: Young and Old Masters.” This is a combined event with the Encore Symphonic Concert Band and the National Youth Band of Canada joining forces at Encore Hall, Wilmar Heights Centre, Scarborough.

Sunday, May 24 at 7pm the North Toronto Community Band presents “Spring Rhythms: Music from Bach to Big Band,” Danny Wilks, conductor, with Jonno Lightstone, saxophone; at Crescent School.

Sunday, May 31 at 4pm the Columbus Concert Band, with guest soprano Kira Braun, will present their First Annual Gala Concert, “The Best of the Columbus Concert Band,” consisting of classical, Broadway, Dixieland, marches and jazz at De LaSalle Oaklands College. One of their band members, Alex Dritsas, is a Canadian soldier who was severely injured recently in a hockey game in Toronto. Many of the 65-member band have been donating funds for his rehabilitation. This concert will be dedicated to him and band members hope that he may even be released from hospital in time to attend. This is the first time the not-for-profit band has had a fundraising event to support themselves as all previous concerts have been to raise funds for other charities in the city.

Definition Department

This month’s lesser-known musical term is pizzicato  (pronounced pissicato): Too much coffee – time to take an urgent mid-rehearsal break. 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

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 ( 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.


2007-JazzStories-Nabbss.jpgIn 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 (

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

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

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

New Horizons

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.

Fred Duligal

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.

Joan Watson

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.

Definition Department

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

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