OOPS! It’s red face time again. I’m guilty of a silly error. Many years ago I taught writing courses at a local institution of higher learning. It was my standard practice to emphasize certain basics such as “get your facts correct.” Last month I broke one of my own cardinal rules. I failed to check one very simple fact. I have known Eddie Graf for years. I spoke to him, his wife and son, before writing about his birthday celebration, but had never asked the question, “What did the short form ‘Eddie’ stand for?” It could have been Edward, Edgar, Edgwick, Edsel or even Edwin. I guessed wrong. His name is Edwin not Edward. My apologies, Eddie.

Now for a look at the smorgasbord of community musical happenings which have been unfolding and are scheduled for the coming weeks. Let’s start with a bit more about Stephen Chenette. In last month’s issue I mentioned that Chenette had announced a special award for Eddie Graf and I alluded to some honours which Chenette himself had received in recent years. Most recently, he was the recipient of the Canadian Band Association’s 2010 National Band Award. This award is presented to a CBA Member who has made an outstanding contribution to banding across Canada. After trumpet studies with the likes of Arnold Jacobs, Rafael Mendez and others, and conducting studies with several top conductors, Chenette served as principal trumpet with the Denver Symphony Orhestra, the Boston Pops, the Minnesota Orchestra and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. He was a charter member of the International Trumpet Guild when it was established in the 1970s and received that organization’s Award of Merit in 2008. Now Professor Emeritus, Chenette recently retired from active teaching in the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto where he was Head of Brass, taught trumpet, orchestral repertoire for winds, brass chamber music and conducted the Concert Band, the Wind Symphony, and the Brass Choir. He has also recently retired after many years as Director of Music of the Northdale Concert Band in Toronto. However, he is still keeping his musical skills sharp by active participation in the trumpet sections of the Northdale Concert Band and the Etobicoke Community Concert Band.

p23_hannafordEnough about our veterans of music for a while. It’s time to turn our attention to some highlights from younger members of our musical community. During the Hannaford Street Silver Band’s annual Festival of Brass weekend, in mid-April, I had the pleasure of hearing the three finalists in the 10th year of the Hannaford Youth Band’s Rising Stars competition. No fewer than 13 members of the Youth Band entered the competition and performed their solos with piano accompaniment in a recital format in January. Out of that group, three finalists were selected by adjudicators Curtis Metcalf and Norman Engel. The Youth Band then learned the brass band accompaniment for the solos of the finalists and they performed, April 15, at the Festival of Brass Friday night Youth Concert.

The winner, Jacob Plachta, performed, from memory, the first movement of Gordon Langford’s Sonata, Serenade and Scherzo for trombone. A graduate of Wexford Collegiate, Plachta is in first year performance in the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto. Plachta started out with Hannaford in the Community Band five years ago on baritone. He is also a talented pianist and plays at the ARCT level. In addition to performing from memory, what makes his accomplishment more amazing is that he missed the dress rehearsal because he had to write two exams at UofT.

Second place in the competition went to Matthew Ross who performed From the Shores of the Mighty Pacific by Herbert L. Clarke. Ross is a native of Bermuda and is in second year performance at UofT, studying with Anita McAlister. He also had exams to write at UofT on the day of the competition. This is Ross’s second year with the Hannaford Youth Band. Last year he played flugelhorn and this year he is “end chair solo cornet.”

Third place honours went to Rachel O’Connor on soprano cornet who performed Concertino by Ernst Sasche. Now in her second year of performance at UofT, O’Connor has played soprano cornet with the Hannaford Youth Band for the last two seasons. Before coming to UofT, she attended the Etobicoke School for the Arts.

Plachta was awarded $500 and a trophy that he will keep. His name will also be engraved on the Rising Stars plaque donated by St. John’s Music. He also performed his solo with the HSSB on Sunday, April 17, and received a recording of his performance. Ross received $300 and O’Connor $200. Both Ross and O’Connor performed on instruments that have been donated to the Youth Program by the family of the late Fred Mills.

The judges for the final competition were Alain Trudel and guest artist tuba virtuoso Patrick Sheridan. For his part of the program, Sheridan stunned all in the audience, not just with his mastery of the instrument, but with a range of tonal colours and rapid execution most of us had never before heard coming from a tuba. During a brief post-concert conversation, I learned from Patrick about a new program of breathing exercises which he has developed with Sam Pilafian, another great of the tuba world. It’s called The Breathing Gym. It’s a course of breathing exercises for band, chorus, and orchestral winds. I hope to have more information about the 2009 EMMY award winning DVD version of this program for a future issue.

Two awards in the community ensemble domain have recently come to our attention. The most recent saw the Newmarket Citizens’ Band awarded a Platinum rating at the annual Music Alive festival. Rather than being a competitive type festival, this is a festival where a group’s performance is rated against a set of standards of performance. The other award was not for a band or orchestra, but for a radio documentary about Resa’s Pieces, a community band for beginners and those rediscovering their instruments. CBC Radio’s The Sunday Edition received a 2011 Gabriel Award for Watch My Stick, PLEASE! Here is what the award stands for: “The single most important criterion of a Gabriel winning film or program is its ability to uplift and nourish the human spirit. A Gabriel-worthy film or program affirms the dignity of human persons; it recognizes and upholds universally-recognized human values such as community, creativity, tolerance, justice, compassion and the dedication to excellence.” Congratulations to Alisa Segal and Karen Levine. Look for it at www.cbc.ca/thesundayedition/2010/06/watch-my-stickplease.html.

Over the past few months I have mentioned the formation of the first New Horizons Band in this area. It all started last September when a small group met and were introduced, by Dan Kapp, to the family of instruments used in a concert band. Comments such as “how do I hold it,” were prevalent. A week later, on a weekday morning, they assembled for their first lesson/practice and were informed that the CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio had been booked for their first concert in May. (What an absurd idea!) Within a few weeks, word had spread and there was pressure from people still holding down day jobs for a new band with evening rehearsals. Responding to that pressure, a second band took shape in January with evening rehearsals. By now, the combined bands, rehearsing some identical repertoire and some different, numbered 49 members. With a concert looming on the horizon, the program was taking shape. However nobody had selected trombone as their new musical companion. Guess what? Yours truly and a fellow ringer were recruited for that performance.

The rest is history. I had expected a small token audience of family and friends. Instead, the hall was almost full with an enthusiastic audience. The concert went off without a hitch and the lobby was crammed full at the reception after. Congratulations to Dan Kapp and all members of the group who had the will to believe that they could pull it off. A great beginning. Now, stand by for another startup group: Resa’s Pieces Strings will present their Debut Gala Performance on June 5. See the listings for details.

Definition Department

This month’s lesser known musical term is: Gregorian champ:
The title bestowed on the monk who can hold a note the longest.

We invite submissions from readers.

Coming Event Quick Picks (See the Concert Listings for details)

• June 05 7:30, Resa’s Pieces Strings. Debut Gala Performance.
Ric Giorgi, music director. Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts.

June 04 7:30, Festival Wind Orchestra. Broken Mirror Concert.  Works by Prokofiev, Holst, Mozart, Rossini; Broadway pieces by Sondheim, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and Bernstein. Keith Reid,     conductor. Lawrence Park Community Church.

June 14 8:00, Resa’s Pieces Concert Band. Twelfth Gala Performance. Resa Kochberg, music director. Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts.

• June 15 7:30, Oshawa Civic Band. Scottish Splendour.
Barrie Hodgins, music director. Featuring the sounds of brass with      pipes and drums. Memorial Park (corner of John St. and Simcoe St.), Oshawa.

• June 16 7:00, Whitby Brass Band. In Concert. Rotary Park,
Queen St., Bowmanville.

• June 19 7:30, Silverthorn Symphonic Winds. Borrowed Treasures. Wind Ensemble concert featuring 2010/2011 artist-in-residence Peter Stoll, clarinet; Andrew Chung, director. St. Mary                            Immaculate Roman Catholic Church, Richmond Hill.

• June 25 8:00, Kindred Spirits Orchestra/Voices Choir. Mozart’s Coronation Mass. Mozart: Don Giovanni Overture K527; Symphony No. 41 kK551 “Jupiter”; Mass in C K317 “Coronation.”     Glenn Gould Studio.

• June 29 7:30: Oshawa Civic Band. A Canadian Salute.
Barrie Hodgins, music director. Concert in honour of Canada Day.  Memorial Park (corner of John St. and Simcoe St.), Oshawa. 

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

28_eddie_graf_and_bernice__bunny__grafEarly in 1921 in Kitchener, Ontario, a local furrier named Joe Graf (and Mrs. Graf) welcomed into the world their third son and named him Edward. In the annals of Canadian music, the rest is history. Early last month I had the pleasure of attending, in the company of a host of luminaries of Canadian music, a party to celebrate Eddie Graf’s 90th birthday.

Since his father, known as Pop to his kids, played violin and his mother played piano, it was only natural that young Eddie Graf would be drawn to music. His father, a regular at fiddle festivals in the Kitchener area, started Eddie on both violin and clarinet at age five, and it wasn’t long, with some coaching from his mother, before Eddie had learned to play chords on the piano to accompany the fiddlers.

At age 13, Eddie joined the local boys’ band, where the featured boy trumpet soloist was a lad named Erich Traugott, who later was one of the stars of Rob McConnnel’s original Boss Brass. In his late teens Eddie worked in a grocery warehouse by day and played around town in the evenings. In those days in Ontario there were no bars or clubs where alcohol was served. Beer was available for men in beverage rooms. Ladies were permitted, if escorted, to drink in separate “Ladies and Escorts” rooms. It was in one such room where he was hired to play piano one night a week. Among other selections in his repertoire, a piano version of the famous Meditation from the opera Thaïs was a favourite. He was paid the princely sum of $1.25 per night plus free beer. Since he was under-age and a non-drinker, he gave the beer to friends. With money coming in from music, he set his sights on a saxophone. The price was $75. One dollar of each evening’s pay went to pay for his new instrument. (The night before this most recent birthday party, Eddie, as a regular member of the Encore Symphonic Concert Band, played a couple of sax solos in a concert. I have it on good authority that these solos were on a newer sax.)

It wasn’t until he joined the army at age 20 that he became a full-time musician. When he enlisted at Wolseley Barracks in London, Ontario, Eddie was assigned to play second clarinet in the band. While there, he also played in various big bands around town and continued to arrange. Meanwhile, over in England, Canadian Bob Farnon, formerly of the old CBC radio show The Happy Gang, had been given the job of assembling musical show groups to entertain service personnel. On a trip back to Canada to line up more talent for his “Army Shows,” Farnon visited Wolseley Barracks. Eddie auditioned and was soon sent off to England.

Shortly after his arrival in the camp near Greenwich he was assigned to Bob Farnon’s band. About a week after Eddie joined the band, Farnon’s brother left the band on compassionate leave and Eddie replaced him in the lead alto sax chair of that prestigious group. Concerts entertaining the troops were routinely interrupted by Luftwaffe aircraft attacks and the infamous “Buzz Bombs.” After the Normandy beaches were secured and the allied armies moved inland, Eddie’s band landed at Caen and subsequently followed the action as the armies advanced through France, Belgium, Holland and ultimately Germany.

In England there was often a number of bands, singers and dancers stationed in the same camp, who in their off hours mingled and made friendships. At some point, on a return from Holland to a camp near Guilford in England, Eddie struck up a friendship with a young dancer from Toronto named Bernice O’Donell, “Bunny,” as she was known to her friends. Some time before the war ended, Bunny’s show was sent off to Holland and Belgium. A bit later Eddie’s show, now a big band stage show, was off to the continent. Lo and behold their paths crossed again in Amsterdam.

After VE day in May 1945, the entertainment groups continued in Europe for many months. By the early fall, both Bunny and Eddie were sent back to England. By now Eddie had enough seniority that he was slated for repatriation home to Canada. Bunny, on the other hand, was further down on the list and was destined to remain in England for some time. The solution: get married and then Eddie could return to Canada with his bride. After a New Year’s Eve party, they were married in a small town church not far from Guilford on January 1, 1946.

Sixty-five years later they shared the good wishes of their many musical friends and family at their home in Scarborough.

Of their seven children, all play musical instruments. However, Lenny is the only child who has pursued music as a career. In a recent conversation, Lenny remarked that is was wonderful growing up in a home where music was so central. In his words, “Dad was not a teacher by trade, but still a fountain of knowledge, not only in the realm of music, but in matters of every day life.” He recalls a steady stream of professional musicians coming to the house for rehearsals. In addition, he met more than his share of radio and television personalities as guests at home. From Gordie Tapp, Bobby Gimby and Juliette to Rich Little and Bob Hope, they all respected Eddie’s talents.

During the course of his 90th birthday party, the steady stream of wellwishers included top Toronto musicians. Photos in my collection from that day include such notables in the trumpet world as Johnny Cowell, Rainer Schmidt and Stephen Chenette to name but three. All of us had the pleasure in sharing a bit of a most artistic birthday cake with a topping in the form of a giant yellow saxophone.

At the party, renowned trumpeter, conductor and educator Stephen Chenette conveyed a special message from Bill Harris, President of the Canadian Band Association (Ontario) proclaiming “Eddie Graf, well known Ontario musician, composer and arranger, ... an Honorary Life Member of CBA (ON) on the occasion of his 90th birthday.” The message went on to laud Eddie’s big band jazz charts and his concert band arrangements and compositions, and noted that Eddie had been recognized by the Canadian Band Association National organization in 2003 with the Canadian Composers Award, one of only two times it has been awarded.

Speaking of Stephen Chenette, there is quite a bit to say about some of the awards that he has received in recent years. However, that will have to wait until next month. Similarly, a full report on the Hannaford Band’s exceptional “A Festival of Brass” weekend will be deferred until then. I have run out of time and space.

In the meantime, check out the web site www.grafflemusic.ca (Graffle Music Publishing). Eddie’s scores and arrangements are available from them. We all look forward to playing his arrangements for years to come.

Definition Department

This month’s lesser known musical term is: gaul blatter: a French horn player.

We invite submissions from readers.

Coming Events

Welcome to two new groups with inaugural performances. Please see the listings section for full details.

• May 9 7:30: East York Concert Band. Memories of Love. Annual spring concert featuring favourites from film and television
classics, musicals and contemporary concert band arrangements.  Emily Summers, director. On the Park Centennial Ballroom.

• May 11 7:30: Earl Haig/Claude Watson Music Program. Symphony/Band Night: Classical, Romantic and Contemporary. Verdi, Tchaikovsky and others. Alan Torok and Gennandy Gefter, conductors. Glenn Gould Studio.

• May 14 8:00: Counterpoint Community Orchestra. Flutopia. Dvořák, Andersen, Gordeli. Terry Kowalczuk, conductor; guest: Robert Aitken, flute. St. Luke’s United Church.

• May 14 8:00: Greater Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra. Finale. Dvořák, Wienawski, Saint-Saëns, Beethoven. Jani Papadhimitri, violin; Vincent Cheng, conductor. Calvin Presbyterian Church.

• May 14 8:00, May 15 2:00: Oakville Symphony. Finalissimo. Works by Nino Rota. The Oakville Centre.

• May 14 8:00: Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra. Spaghetti Western: Music Inspired by Hollywood. Daugherty, Pool (premiere), Royer (premiere). Cary Ebli, English horn; Louise Di Tullio, flute; Ronald Royer, conductor. Birchmount Park Collegiate Institute.

• May 15 2:00: Mississauga Pops Concert Band. On Broadway. The golden age of musicals; featuring choral group Justus.                                 Meadowvale Theatre.

• May 15 3:30: Wychwood Clarinet Choir. Spring Concert. St. Michael and All Angels Church.

• May 19 7:30: Long & McQuade Bloor New Horizons Band. The Beat Goes On: Annual Spring Concert. Dan Kapp, music director.  Glenn Gould Studio.

• May 29 3:00: Orchestra Toronto. Masterworks on Canvas Live.  Mussorgsky, Debussy, Weber, Stravinsky. Danielle Lisboa, guest conductor; Noru Gogovita, clarinet. Toronto Centre for the Arts.

• May 29 7:00: North Toronto Community Band. Spring Rhythms Gala. Music from Mozart to musicals. Danny Wilks, conductor; guest: Graziano Brescacin, flute. Crescent School.

• Jun 01 7:30: Resa’s Pieces Strings. Debut Gala Performance. Ric Giorgi, music director. Richmond Hill Centre for the Performing Arts.

• Jun 03 8:00: Etobicoke Philharmonic Orchestra. 50th Anniversary Gala Concert. Raum, Rachmaninoff, Mahler. Arthur Ozolins, piano; Sabatino Vacca, conductor. Silverthorn Collegiate.

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

My long personal involvement with community musical ensembles has prompted me, in this issue, to ponder some of the non-musical elements essential for the health of such groups. I sat down to list what they might be, and was a bit dumbfounded to find that my list contained no fewer than 20 potential activities that might arise and require someone’s attention. Where to start? Obviously with number one on the list – an executive. Then they can deal with the other 19, so the rest of us, who just want to make music, can get on with it.

In one organization of which I am a member, due to unforeseen circumstances there had not been an election of an executive for an unusually long time. It was time for an election. When the president called for nominations, there were none. OK, let’s ask for volunteers. None! Similarly for all positions except vice-president and treasurer. The incumbents agreed to stay for another term. Elections were deferred to an unspecified date in the future. As one member stated, “It’s hard to find a sucker who is willing to take on a leadership role.” Another who was asked, pointed out that he had been president twice in the past and preferred his present position as “member.”

After all, there’s no great financial incentive to take on the task. Most amateur musical organizations pay an honorarium to their conductor, a lesser amount to an assistant conductor, and, if they’re really enlightened, to their librarian. But the many other duties are handled by conscripted volunteers who tend to experience so-called “burnout” after years of unrecognized dedication to their groups. Most of these people are in the “baby boomer” or older age groups. For many of the younger members, rehearsal night is an escape from work and family responsibilities. More paper work has no appeal.

Let’s look more closely at just one of those non-musical jobs. In most groups, next to the conductor and assistant, by far the most important and demanding non-musical job is that of the librarian. Aside from library cataloguing and filling folders, that person even sometimes has an influence in music selection (even if only by getting to assert that certain pieces are unavailable!). Would you like to have a say in the music you perform, or are you happy to just play the music that you find in your folder when you arrive at the rehearsal? If you are a regular member of an ensemble, are you ever consulted about repertoire? How should the repertoire be decided? Is that the sole prerogative of the conductor or done in consultation with the librarian? (Having played in many groups for more years than I care to count, I can recall only one type of situation where I had any say in the music selection, namely in those situations where it just so happened that I was the leader. And many are the times I have suffered through a rehearsal of music that I thoroughly disliked, consoling myself with the rationalization that it was good reading practice. No better spot from which to change what I suspect is a widespread phenomenon, than the “non-musical” job of band librarian.)

Let’s leave the matter of essential non-musical jobs for another month. In the meantime, please drop us a line with your comments on any of the many such tasks required for the successful operation of a community ensemble. I am sure there are others to add to the 20 on my list.

Turning to the subject of repertoire, how can a group determine what would appeal to their audiences? For many years I acted as MC for a summer music festival in Toronto. It was often possible to conduct ad hoc surveys of audience opinion during intermission or after a performance. The one constant? It was always a mixed reaction. For concert band performances, the one comment which surprised most conductors was the desire on the part of audience members to hear more marches. For most conductors, the perception was that their “concert band” had risen above the level of a parade band. By contrast, most audience members came to hear a band, and considered that marches should be an integral part of such a programme. They were referring to the kind of marches that a good military band might perform on parade, not concert marches.

30_bandstand_plumbingfactorybrassband3_-_low_res_for_referenceOne band that has mastered the art of wrapping diverse repertoire in an appealing unifying theme is London’s Plumbing Factory Brass Band under Henry Meredith. It has come up with a very appealing theme for two identical concerts this month in London and St. Thomas. The St. Thomas concert on April 20 will be performed in the Canada Southern Railway Station which was used for many years by trains of the Michigan Central Railroad en route between Detroit and Buffalo. The program is titled Explorations – Movements, Moods and Myths Abound; Sights, and Sites Described in Sound, and features some familiar band compositions as well as several rarely heard works.

A fast moving gallop, The Ideal Railway, will be dedicated at both concerts to the Michigan Central Railroad Employees Band (founded in 1919). In fact, the PFBB’s music is typical of what such a company band would have played in its heyday (1920s and 1930s). The St. Thomas concert also salutes the ongoing restoration of the train station and heralds the opening of a special exhibit on the history of the MCR Employees Band, all sponsored by the station’s owners, the North America Railway Hall of Fame.

The tubas just won’t go away. After so much tuba talk in last month’s issue, there was going to be little mention of these musical brutes in this issue. However, they are not going away quietly.
First we received an email message from local tuba player Hugh Wallis telling us of a few tuba concerti we hadn’t mentioned, as well as a work for tuba and piano. We then learned that the Hannaford Street Silver Band’s “Festival of Brass: Rising Stars Concert” on Friday, April 15 will feature, as guests, the University of Toronto Tuba Ensemble directed by Sal Fratia. Not yet satisfied, the HSSB’s Sunday concert, April 17, features yet another tuba soloist, Patrick Sheridan.

Definition Department

This month’s groaner is frugalhorn: a sensible and inexpensive brass instrument.

We invite submissions from readers.

Coming Events

Please see the listings section for full details.

• Saturday, April 2, 7:00pm: Milton Concert Band presents its spring “Milton Pops” at Bishop Reding Catholic High School. The show will feature an eclectic mix of light classics, world music and movie tunes, with a few surprises along the way!

• Wednesday, April 13, 7:30pm: Plumbing Factory Brass Band, Henry Meredith, conductor presents Explorations at Byron United Church, 420 Boler Road, London.

• Weekend of April 15, 16 and 17: Hannaford Street Silver Band  (HSSB) presents its eighth annual Festival of Brass:

Friday, April 15: HSSB’s Rising Stars annual Young Artist Solo Competition, in which the finalists will compete for the honour of  performing with the HSSB on Sunday.

• Saturday, April 16 12 noon to 5:15pm: In “Community Showcase,” the HSSB welcomes community bands from across Ontario and beyond. Some ensembles will compete for the honour to receive The Hannaford Cup, the HSSB’s annual award for excellence.

Saturday, April 16, 8:00pm: HSSB welcomes to Toronto the Lexington Brass Band from Kentucky with trumpet virtuoso Vincent DiMartino.

• Sunday, April 17, 3:00pm: HSSB presents: Low Blows with tuba soloist Patrick Sheridan. n

 

You can write to us at bandstand@thewholenote.com.

27_bandstandIn last month’s issue I mentioned an upcoming concert by the University of Toronto Wind Symphony. I had the pleasure of attending that concert, and can report on a superb performance of all works on the programme. My principal reason for attending was to hear the solo performance of the Gregson Tuba Concerto by a young man whose development I have been following over the past few years. Now in his final year in the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto, Eric Probst was this year’s recipient of the U of T Wind Ensemble Concerto Competition. In 2008 Eric was the winner of  the Hannaford Youth Band Solo Competition.

I have heard this concerto a number of times in the past, and this performance ranks with the best that I have heard. At some performances, I have had the impression that I was hearing a sort of fight to the finish, with the performer attacking the concerto as an adversary to be subdued. That was not the case in this performance. Throughout the performance Eric gave the impression that he was embracing the work as his friend. They were cooperating with each other to share their mutual admiration with the audience. Even in the technically demanding cadenzas there was no hint of a struggle; by his body language and facial expressions the performer told us that he was enjoying himself at all times.

The only really well known work on the program was the Symphonic Dance Music from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story. Here the large woodwind section displayed a combination of precision, blend and depth of tone not often heard in a concert band.

The other student highlighted in the programme was Meaghan Danielson a graduate student conductor. She displayed her considerable conducting talent and stage presence in Contre Qui, Rose by American composer Morten Lauridsen, best known for his choral compositions. Originally written as a choral work, under Miss Danielson’s sensitive baton this transcription for wind ensemble by H. Robert Reynolds retained the feeling of a choir of wind instruments expressing the poetry which inspired the work.

The second half of the evening was devoted to Testament: Music for a Time of Trial and Give Us This Day: Short Symphony for Wind Ensemble, two contrasting works by contemporary American composer David Maslanka. Dr. Maslanka left active teaching some years ago and retired to a small town in Montana to devote most of his time to composition. He was spending several days in Toronto as the Wilma and Clifford Smith Visitor in Music at the Faculty of Music. During an interval in the programme he spoke of his inspirations for the two works featured and on his philosophy of composition. It was an inspiring talk, but too fleeting to summarize here.

This “Visitorship” was established in 1986 by the Steven and Jane Smith family to honour their parents. Since renowned singer John Vickers was named as first visitor, the students have benefited from the counsel of many distinguished musicians. During his stay Dr. Maslanka conducted master classes, sat in on rehearsals and conducted a forum with composition students.

My visit to this concert introduced me to a series of concerts at Faculty of Music that are well worth more attention than they usually receive. They provide top quality performances by talented young musicians at very affordable prices and are at an excellent venue just a few steps from two subway stations. They are worth investigating.

Now, back to the tuba. Since the tuba is generally not looked upon as a solo instrument, there is very little solo repertoire written specifically for that instrument. Personally, I knew of only two concertos for tuba; the one heard in this concert written by British composer Edward Gregson in 1976 and a somewhat earlier one by Ralph Vaughan Williams. I had a question. Since the tuba usually remains well hidden in all but small ensembles and is not generally considered a solo instrument, what prompted these composers and few lesser known ones to write concertos? So, like any good modern researcher, after consulting the Oxford Companion to Music and Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians, I turned to the internet. Lo and behold, what did I find? I found a forum on the Gramophone Magazine website with the title “Why write a Tuba concerto”? (This was apparently specifically targeting the Vaughan Williams work.)Various submissions to this forum over a few months last year provide both entertainment and insight. I encourage you to read them!

(On a personal note, one of my all time favourite records is a set of duets for tuba and guitar by renowned tubist Sam Pilafian and guitarist Frank Vignola. In particular, their renditions of works by renowned French guitarist Django Reinhart show those works in a whole new melodic light.)

On the subject of compositions: Late in 2010, as a way to thank the city for all its support over the years, the members of the Pickering Community Concert Band were looking for a project to help the City of Pickering commemorate its bicentennial year. By happy coincidence 2010 also happened to be the 20th anniversary of the band. The decision was made to sponsor a competition open to amateur composers across Ontario. Entries were solicited for two distinct types of composition to be performed at ceremonies marking the two anniversaries.

After rigorous judging in accordance with well defined criteria, the winners for each of the two categories have been selected. “Elliott Overture,” by young Markham composer Sean Breen, will be performed by the Pickering Community Concert Band at the City of Pickering’s March 4 celebratory event in the Pickering Recreation Complex. “Inchworm/Lazy Afternoon,” by veteran trumpeter and singer Vern Kennedy, will be featured at the band’s 20th anniversary celebration to take place April 16. The winning composers will be introduced and awarded their prizes at each event.

And finally, a clarification: In last month’s Bandstand column we talked about the new Artist in Residence Program offered by Silverthorn Symphonic Winds. Subsequent to publication of that issue we have received some clarification on the status of this program. Raymond James Ltd., the Canadian subsidiary of Raymond James Financial, Inc. will be the official corporate sponsor of the inaugural Artist in Residence Program offered by Silverthorn Symphonic Winds during the 2010/2011 season, rather than, as we thought the Ontario Trillium Foundation. While the band is in receipt of a Trillium grant these funds will be allocated for other community activities, not the Artist in Residence Program. (The Artist in Residence Program brings an established, professional musician as a collaborator with the band for a one-year term. The artist provides coaching to ensemble members, performs at two public concerts, and offers a free public master class.

Please write to us: bandstand@thewholenote.com.

Definition Department

This month’s lesser known musical term is flute flies: “those tiny mosquitoes that bother musicians on outdoor gigs.”

We invite submissions from readers.

In recent columns we have been following the progress of a few startup community ensembles in this part of the world. In particular, we have been reporting on the progress of a few beginners groups. Without exception, the ones we have visited are flourishing, and at least two new such groups are in the planning stages. But what of the startups we reported on a few years ago? We arbitrarily chose three years as a reasonable time for a new group to either coalesce or cease operations. The Milton Concert Band and the Silverthorn Symphonic Winds fell into that category.

The brainchild of two members of the Etobicoke band who had moved to Milton, The Milton Concert Band is prospering with an experienced permanent conductor, a regular rehearsal home and an impressive performance schedule for a band that was just an idea in the minds of two members three years previously. The thorough step by step process followed by Cheryl Ciccarelli and Angela Rozario in their planning could well act as a textbook model for anyone contemplating the organization of a new musical ensemble in their community.

23_resendesmiltonOnce settled into Milton, a rapidly growing town with an active arts community, they decided to put a call out to see if there were any other amateur musicians in the area interested in performing together. First they did their research. They talked to people with other bands and looked at the Constitutions and By-Laws of several other groups. They lined up a potential conductor in the person of Joseph M. Resendes, an experienced instrumentalist, conductor and Ph.D. candidate in music at York University. Finally they contacted the Mayor, local councillors and anyone else they could think of to enlist their help and support. These included local music teachers, Arts Milton, and other community groups. When they felt that they were ready, they contacted the local paper and managed to get an article printed. Soon they had 20 musicians willing to join and they were scrambling for a place to rehearse.

Their first rehearsal took place in February 2007, squeezed into a small meeting room at a local hockey arena. By June 2007 four performances had been lined up. Fittingly, the first performance was for Milton’s 150th Anniversary Street Party. This was quickly followed by performances at the local hospital’s Strawberry Fair and a meeting of Arts Milton. By July 2007, they had hosted their first free concert in the park before taking a break for the summer. September 2007 marked the start of the band’s first full season. Interest in the band continued to grow and they moved to a new permanent home at the Lion’s Club Hall in Milton Memorial Arena, with plenty of space to accommodate more musicians. It was a season of firsts.

Since then the group has grown to 45 members and now hosts 8 to 10 public performances a year. Under the tutelage of Music Director Resendes, in the short span of three years the band has grown artistically and is now a vital arts organization in the community. Equally importantly, the members have become a family who support each other and have the confidence to tackle new musical challenges. They are very excited about the possibility of making use of the new Milton Art Centre next season and the opportunities that may provide.

In January of this year the band played the first of a proposed series of concerts for Deaf/Blind Ontario at the Bob Rumble Centre in Milton. This innovative performance was designed to allow people with varying degrees of hearing and/or vision loss to experience music in an “up close and personal” setting. The centre’s clients will hold balloons to amplify the vibrations of the instruments and will be invited to interpret the experience through an art project. Both the band and the clients are very excited about this opportunity. We look forward to hearing more about this initiative.

24_silverthorn_1443The Silverthorn Symphonic Winds (SSW) was established in September 2006 by a group of local musicians who wanted an opportunity to perform more challenging music. Composed of advanced amateurs and semi-professional musicians, the group is conducted by Andrew Chung, a graduate of the University of Toronto as well as universities in Hong Kong and Freiburg Germany. Andrew also serves as Music Director of The Brass Conspiracy and the Chinese Canadian Choir of Toronto.

Thanks to a three year grant from The Ontario Trillium Foundation, the SSW have embarked on an Artist in Residence program and are expanding their activities in York Region. The Artist in Residence for the 2010/2011 season will be clarinetist Peter Stoll, a member of the Talisker Players, principal clarinet of the Toronto Philharmonia Orchestra and a member of the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto. As artist in residence he will be the featured soloist and host at two concerts in the Richmond Hill Centre. In addition to their concerts, the SSW will feature free public master classes for both adult and high school aged clarinetists. Throughout the season Stoll will assist in six SSW rehearsals where he will coach the woodwinds and offer advice to the ensemble as a whole.

IN RECENT YEARS I have developed an interest in how musicians that I meet settled on their chosen instruments. When I meet a musician, amateur or professional, for the first time, I ask “did you choose the tuba (or whatever instrument they play) or did the tuba choose you?” Such answers as “it was all that was left when I started music in grade nine” or “the teacher gave it to me as the best for me” are common. However, among tuba players, a more common answer is “I always wanted to play tuba” or “we were made for each other.”

I have had the pleasure of following the development of three young tuba players who fall into that “made for each other” category. Some years ago, as a grade ten student, Courtney Lambert arrived at the Newmarket band with the determination to be a professional tubist. Now, some years later, with a masters degree in music, she is busy performing professionally and teaching. At the other end of the time spectrum, Caitlin Jodoin was determined to play tuba in grade eight. Now in grade eleven and headed for France for a stint as an exchange student, she’s not taking her tuba with her. She’s renting one while there. In the centre of that triumvirate I first met Eric Probst as a grade eleven student. He is now in his final year in the Faculty of Music at the University of Toronto and has won the
U of T Wind Ensemble Concerto Competition. He will be performing the Gregson Tuba Concerto with the U of T Wind Symphony on February 11 at 7:30pm in the MacMillan Theatre. I certainly intend to be in the audience.

I think it is no accident that all three of these young musicians honed their skills under the tutelage of Anita McAllister and the Hannaford Youth Band organization.

Definition Department

This month’s lesser known musical term is: Fiddler Crabs: Grumpy string players. We invite submissions from readers. Let’s hear your daffynitions

And this just in: It has become common practice for community bands to program a concert around a particular theme. Now, The City of Brampton Concert Band goes one better. Their concluding concert for this season is titled “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly: A Tribute to the Music of the West.” The program will highlight familiar music from the movies such as “The Magnificent Seven” and “Hang ‘em High,”compositions that reflect on the majestic and varied natural beauty of the region including “The Yellowstone Suite,” and other music inspired by native lullabies, dances and culture. The innovative twist is a throughline narrative, with local actor Scott Lale telling tales of the many personalities that gave the wild west its iconic imagery, and with local dancers as well as performers on such instruments as banjo, guitar and harmonica woven in. It all happens at 8pm on Saturday February 26, 2011 at the Rose Theatre in Brampton.

Please write to us: bandstand@thewholenote.com.

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