In last month’s Bandstand column I focused on a few new ensembles which had graced the local scene over the past two or three years, and mentioned some new ones scheduled to begin this fall. It seemed appropriate then to see how some of these proposed new startups were doing. Two in particular, with very different aims, attracted my attention. Resa’s Pieces Strings was billed as a beginners string orchestra. The New Horizons Seniors Band sponsored by Long and McQuade was to be a beginners band for people 50-plus who wanted to take up music for the first time or get back to it after a prolonged absence. How better to have my questions answered than to attend their inaugural sessions?

p29bFirst up was the rehearsal of the string group Resa’s Pieces Strings (RPS). This is the brain child of Resa Kochberg, founder and conductor of the very successful Resa’s Pieces Band. The strings group included a wide spectrum of ages from high-school students to white-haired seniors. All had enough experience to know how to hold their instruments and play basic scales. For those neophytes in the group who were less than familiar with some of the adjustments required by their instruments, a technician from George Heinl Co. was on hand to assist.

After a few opening remarks outlining the aims and objectives for the months ahead, and getting the instruments tuned, director Ric Giorgi started the group right off playing simple melodies interspersed with exercises on such matters as bowing techniques. By the time the break came along, this new ensemble was playing simple melodies in harmony with better tuning that might nave been expected. At the break, this new group was invited across the hall, where Resa’s Pieces Band had been practising. There they were welcomed into the fold with the cutting and sharing of a cake for their “birthday.”

The RPS will be following the same philosophy that Resa Kochberg has established from day one in leading Resa’s Pieces Concert Band. It is “to provide an opportunity for people to return to playing instruments that they have not touched for years.” Doing your best, but also having fun is what is expected, and everyone grows musically together with each “piece” completing the whole! As of that evening, 24 people had signed up and about 18 got to the first rehearsal.

Were there any shortcomings noted? Yes. As I anticipated, viola players are in short supply. In fact, one acquaintance of mine has been suggesting to me that I might be an ideal candidate to fill a coveted spot in the viola section. Here’s your chance, wannabe string players: get a viola and join the fun on Monday evenings. Even if your leanings are towards some other string instrument, check it out at their website www.resaspieces.org, or email strings@resaspieces.org.

Two days later, at 9:30am, I joined a group attending a get acquainted session at Long and McQuade’s downtown Toronto store to learn about their New Horizons Seniors Band. After a brief introduction by director Dan Kapp, the goals of this group were outlined. This is a band for retirees who either have not played for years, or have sung or played other instruments and would now like to play in an organized group. The majority of these people did not own instruments, and were curious about which instrument might be right for them. Over the next two hours most tried one or more instruments and decided. One woman initially considered trombone, learned how to hold it, blew a few notes and then decided to try an oboe. Her first attempt startled us. It was not the sound of a wounded duck that emanated. Rather, it was quite a pleasant musical tone. I immediately suggested that she and the oboe were meant for each other. Whether she will stick with oboe or sample other instruments before her final decision remains to be seen.

As with the string orchestra, there are initial shortages. Low brass wannabes were in short supply. It seems that, amongst grandmothers and grandfathers, flutes, clarinets or trumpets have more appeal that tubas and euphoniums.

The goal for this group has already been established, and it’s ambitious. The CBC’s Glenn Gould Studio has already been booked for their spring concert. If you are available Wednesday mornings and would like to try your hand at making this kind of music, experience is not necessary. Group instruction is part of the package. Contact them at www.newhorizonsbloor.ca or call 416-588-7886.

Both groups stressed that playing in such ensembles was also very much a social activity. Members were encouraged to get to know their fellow members and consider forming trios and quartets to practise together outside of regular rehearsal times and hone their skills with the challenges of playing these more intimate forms.

As for other new groups for more experienced players, we have just received word that the new Richmond Hill Concert Band had its first rehearsal as this goes to press. They reported about 30 interested members already with a good distribution of instruments. Their rehearsals are on Thursdays at 7:30pm at Roselawn Public School, 422 Carrville Rd., Richmond Hill.

The Canadian Band Association (Ontario) is celebrating its 9th Annual Community Band Weekend from October 15 through 17. These annual weekends provide an opportunity for musicians from bands across Ontario to join together for music-making with friends, both old and new, under the leadership of expert conductors. As part of their 15th anniversary celebration, Etobicoke Community Concert Band will be acting as hosts this year. Check-in starts at 7:30pm Friday and is followed by a social gathering. Saturday will be devoted to rehearsals under the batons of no fewer than six conductors.

The massed band will perform the concert on Sunday afternoon. The rehearsal and concert take place at Etobicoke Collegiate Institute, 86 Montgomery Rd., Etobicoke. The nearest major intersection is Dundas and Islington, and the school is a manageable walk from both Royal York and Islington subway stations. For full details contact Bill Harris, Acting President, Canadian Band Association (Ontario) at president@cba-ontario.ca, or 416-693-3980.

 

Definition Department

This month’s lesser known musical term is fermoota: a note of dubious value held for indefinite length. We invite submissions from readers. Let’s hear your daffynitions.

 

Coming Events

• October 17, 8:00pm: The Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra.
Norman Reintamm and Friends Recital. St. Timothy’s Anglican          Church, 4125 Sheppard Ave. E.

• October 18, 7:30pm: Orillia Wind Ensemble. Joint Effort. Orillia               Opera House, 20 Mississaga St. W., Orillia.

• October 23, 8:00pm: Greater Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra.
Autumn Classics. Calvin Presbyterian Church, 26 Delisle Ave.

• October 23, 8:00pm: City of Brampton Concert Band. Rose Theatre             in Brampton.

Down the Road

• November 13, 8:00pm: Cathedral Bluffs Symphony Orchestra.
Subscription Concert No.1. P.C. Ho Theatre, 5183 Sheppard Ave. E.

 

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

As I write this, on return from a Sunday evening concert at the Orillia Aquatheatre, I'm reminded of the impending end of the summer concert season. Our concert began at 6:30pm rather than the usual seven o'clock, because the days are getting shorter. September is only two weeks away, and the fall season is on the horizon. For most community ensembles this marks a beginning of sorts. Whether they have been playing all summer, with rehearsals and concerts, or have taken a complete break, most will be in transition in some way or other. Almost without exception, there will be some reflection on the past year and discussion of what changes might be in order.

P30Almost every year in Southern Ontario, September heralds the establishment of one or more new community instrumental groups with varying aspirations. So, for our inauguration of a new season of The Wholenote, it seemed to be a fitting time to visit a few new startups and some relative newcomers that have now completed one or two seasons. For our very limited and informal study of recently formed groups, I've selected the Milton Concert Band, the Scarborough Society of Musicians, the Kindred Spirits Orchestra and the Newmarket Stepping Stone Band.

The oldest of this group, the Milton Concert Band began taking shape early in 2007, when recently arrived residents and long-time friends Angela Rozario and Cheryl Ciccarelli, having recognized the growing artistic community in Milton, decided to see if there were any other area amateur musicians interested in performing together. Their hopes were immediately met, and the pair were soon scrambling to accommodate over 30 musicians and having to put others on a waiting list. Working with the town of Milton, the group was able to move to its new permanent home at Memorial Arena in September 2007. By now, the band will have concluded their regular series of summer concerts and performances at town festivals, and will be preparing for their fall on Saturday mornings, at Dr. Norman Bethune C. I. In Scarborough.

About one year later, in February 2008, the Scarborough Society of Musicians had its beginnings. It began with the discussion among a group of graduating high school students who had developed and shared a passion for musical performance and didn’t want to abandon that love after graduation. The band is a non-profit organization aimed at providing post-secondary school students who are not pursuing professional studies in music an environment to continue developing and exploring their talents. Since its inception, the band has been rehearsing on Saturday mornings, in the music room at Dr. Norman Bethune C. I. In Scarborough. I’m informed that they’ll be organizing their future activities in January, but they have already performed a concert, in July 2010. Try visiting their website: continuingmusic.ca.

The next in our recent arrivals on the community music scene is the Kindred Spirits Orchestra. Founder and musical director Maestro Kristian Alexander felt that the time was ripe for an audition-based community orchestra in Markham. The orchestra’s official incorporation was on March 16, 2009. Their inaugural concert took place on November 3, 2009, at the CBC's Glenn Gould Studio in downtown Toronto. The programme included Wagner's Siegfried Idyll and Mozart's Gran Partita.

The orchestra is still relatively small (38 musicians), which has enabled it to concentrate on developing a refined ensemble sound. For the future they hope to increase the size of their string section and, in their words, “to grow and attract more musicians, more friends, more kindred spirits."

With a relatively small string section, to date they have focused almost exclusively on baroque and classical compositions. They are very eager to broaden their repertoire and approach romantic and more contemporary works. The first such foray into works requiring significantly larger resources took place in June of this year. At that time, I had the opportunity to join the brass section in a performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.

For the immediate future, their growth will certainly be limited until they can move to a larger rehearsal hall. Perhaps the new Markham recreational complex will supply the answer. In the meantime, they are forging ahead with an ambitious season that will include a four concert subscription series at the Glenn Gould Studio. Concerts will include guest violinist Jacques Israelievitch performing the Beethoven Violin Concerto, and performances of Beethoven’s Sixth, Seventh and Eighth symphonies.

In addition to performances, the Kindred Spirits Orchestra has an education and community outreach programme with professional development opportunities for local music teachers and young conductors. And to promote Canadian composers and music, they have Gary Kulesha and Larysa Kuzmenko on board as resident composers for the coming season.

About one year ago, a new band for beginners and intermediate level players was established in Newmarket. Informally called the Stepping Stone Band, their message was simple: “If you took band music in high school, and years later find you have time and interest in making music, this is perfect way to get back into it. Why play at home alone? The best way to learn to read music is to play in a group or ensemble.” The group stopped rehearsing for the summer, but that wasn’t the end of playing. Several members, who had upgraded their skills during this first season, are now rehearsing regularly with the Newmarket Citizens’ Band and have been performing in concerts over the summer. As for the remaining members, they will form the core for the coming season. As of this writing, this beginner band has 12 members who want to proceed with rehearsals in September. They are hoping for at least eight additional members to proceed with the programme. If you have considered the idea of taking up an instrument again or know of someone who has, pass this message on.

The band will meet Monday nights from 7pm to 9pm at a location in Aurora, near the Aurora Public Library. Members must bring their your own instruments and music stands. Music is provided. The program will be coordinated by Joe Mariconda. For more information, please email Joe at joemariconda@gmail.com or call him at 905-836-4039.

On the new initiative front, we have four very disparate endeavours, two of which specifically target seniors. The first of these, is yet another project of Joe Mariconda. The concept is to establish a concert band programme for the seniors of York Region, based in Newmarket. The Seniors’ Centre in Newmarket has a membership of 2,000 from which to draw. If the programme sparks the interest of sufficient members, there could well be more than one band to cater to various skill levels. The band (or bands) would rehearse on weekdays for two hours once a week. Instructing and conducting duties would be shared by a team of volunteer retired music teachers. With such a team approach, there would be less of a burden on any one individual conductor, and the participants would have the benefit of coaching by conductors with skills on a range of different instruments. Contact Joe Mariconda at 905-836-4039 or by email joemariconda@gmail.com.

 

Another new band programme for seniors will appeal to those who live close to the heart of Toronto. Long & McQuade Musical Instruments have announced their Play-in-a-Band Programme, to begin in September. Designed for adults from 50 to 90 (and older), it's for those who always wanted to play an instrument and former players who want to play again. Whether you're learning to play “from scratch” or dusting off that old horn from the back of the closet, you'll will be welcome. The programme will be directed by Dan Kapp, an instrumentalist and conductor with over 30 years' experience. An information meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, September 15 at 9:30am, with the first rehearsal one week later. For information go to www.newhorizonsbloor.ca or phone 416-588-7886.

This announcement sparked my curiosity and prompted a bit of digging, since there was a Canadian Federal Government sponsored “New Horizons” program in Canada over 25 years ago. The New Horizons program, established in 1991, was the brain child of Dr. Roy Ernst at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. While the first New Horizons program in 1991 was for bands, the intent was to also start other kinds of New Horizons programs. New Horizons orchestras started a few years later. Initially, a minimum age of 50 was arbitrarily set as a guideline. Over the years that has changed. Now, for most groups, “If you consider yourself to be an adult, you’re eligible.” In my digging, I discovered that there were already no fewer than ten such groups in Ontario as members of the New Horizons International Music Association. I even learned that two of these were conducted by personal friends of mine.

Just North of Toronto a group of dedicated amateur musicians have decided that it's time to formally organize a concert band for the town of Richmond Hill. The Richmond Hill Concert Band is intended for adults with high school instrumental musical ability who may not have played for several years but are looking to regain the enjoyment of playing in a band. The origins of this group are quite creative. The Thornhill Community Band, which has been operating successfully for some years, realized that 30 percent of its members were residents of nearby Richmond Hill. It was also becoming apparent that the Thornhill band's numbers had grown to the point where they could no longer accept new members for some instruments.

The solution was to assist in the forming of a new band. This had a number of benefits. By rehearsing on a complementary night to its own rehearsals, the Thornhill Band could help mentor a new Richmond Hill band without detracting from its own organization and membership. A core group from the Thornhill band, willing to rehearse two nights a week, will ensure a balanced instrumentation at the beginning. Initially they will share the music library, and long-time experienced conductor Denny Ringler will be at the helm of both ensembles. Since a group must have charitable status to apply for an Ontario Trillium grant, and since the Thornhill Community Band is a registered charitable organization, it was eligible to apply for a grant for its progeny. They are awaiting the outcome.

To assist in its establishment, the band was awarded a grant of $2,500 for startup funding by the Richmond Hill Mayor’s Endowment Fund.  The band will rehearse Thursday evenings from 7:30 to 10pm starting September 16, 2010, in the music room at Roselawn Public School, 422 Carrville Rd, Richmond Hill. For information, please call 905-737-7265, 416-223-7152, or send an email to info@rhcb.ca.

The fourth of our new startup groups is Resa’s Pieces Strings. In previous issues we have referred to the very successful beginners' band know as Resa’s Pieces Concert Band. Established some years ago by Resa Kochberg, this band was created with the philosophy that “everyone grows musically together, with each "piece" completing the whole. Now, Resa has decided that former and/or new string players deserve the same opportunity to develop their skills. As a result, Resa's Pieces Strings or the RPS will be launched in September 2010. This new beginners' string ensemble will be under the directorship of Ric Giorgi.

The RPS will follow the same philosophy that Resa Kochberg established when she founded Resa's Pieces Concert Band some years ago. It is "to provide an opportunity for people to return to playing instruments that they had not touched for years.” If I thought that I could handle a string instrument, I would be there in a flash with a viola in hand. For information visit their website, http://www.resaspieces.org, or email strings@resaspieces.org.

With all of those opportunities available, if you have thought about getting back to music, there is no better time than now. Listen to the advice from Resa. “Recall those sounds, reawaken that talent, rediscover playing music!”

On a sombre note, it is with deep regret that we report the passing of a stalwart of the military reserve band scene in Toronto. Captain Frank Merlo, CD, OSJ, Director of Music for the Governor General’s Horse Guards Regimental Band, passed away in Toronto on July 6, 2010. Frank’s association with the regiment and the band began in 1979, and for over three decades he literally dedicated his life to both. I first met Frank when he, as a young French horn player, first became involved in the local band scene. In part his obituary stated: “As the current Senior Director of Music in 32 Brigade, his knowledge and advice was highly sought after, and the support he gave to each Commanding Officer ensured that the Regimental Band could always be counted on to provide the right ceremonial touch to any occasion. In his role as a vocal music teacher with Toronto District Catholic School Board, he influenced the musical lives of countless students. He will be missed.

Definition Department

This month’s lesser known musical term is FERMANTRA: "A note held over and over and over . . ." We invite submissions from readers.

Coming Events: Please see the listings section for full details.

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

 

As I sit down to produce this final column before The Wholenote’s summer break, I’m in the throes of recovery from the weekend of June 12-13. It started with a dress rehearsal on Saturday afternoon followed by a performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony in the evening with the Kindred Spirits Orchestra. Sunday started with “The World’s Biggest Brass Event” for the International Women’s Brass Conference (IWBC). Then it was off to an end-of-season garden party for another musical group. Before long I had to leave the party early for another orchestral rehearsal of Grieg’s Piano Concerto and Sibelius’s Violin Concerto.

P25I switched from bass trombone in the Beethoven to an antique Soviet Army rotary valve baritone horn in the Colonel Bogey march at the IWBC. I also went from a tuxedo on Saturday to a T-shirt on Sunday, and from The Glenn Gould Studio Saturday to a grassy slope at the Humber College Lakeshore Campus for the IWBC. It certainly was a weekend of variety!

Now let’s take a very unscientific look at what community musical groups have planned for the summer months.

There may be the odd performance in a summer festival, but, with few exceptions, most community orchestras and choirs take a break during the summer months. Not so for community bands. A century ago, before radio and television, the “town band” was a principal source of musical entertainment for most communities in our part of the world. From its construction in 1936, for the next 40 or so years, the Main Bandshell at Toronto’s CNE featured twice-daily concerts by famous bands from around the world. In between those there were concerts by local bands, there and on the North Bandstand. I remember well the Bands of the Royal Marines and the National Band of New Zealand. All summer long there were weekly band concerts in Toronto at Kew Gardens, High Park, Allen Gardens and St. James Park. Similar concerts on a smaller scale took place in most smaller communities.

How have community bands changed? How do today’s bands perceive their roles? While some community bands do close down for a while, many simply switch to an annual summer agenda, with more emphasis on outdoor performances. So I’ve decided to look at the four modern community bands of my acquaintance, to see how each has evolved with the changing times.

The oldest of these bands is the Newmarket Citizens Band. Having operated continuously for over 100 years, it’s not surprising that this band’s activities most closely resemble those of the town band when they were first formed. They play regular outdoor concerts in a variety of venues and play for many parades for which they frequently receive honoraria. The proceeds of these have been sufficient for the band to purchase, at no expense to the members, a complete set of new blazers with embroidered crests. In appearance, this band most closely adheres to its traditional roots.

The Concert Band of Cobourg is an excellent anomaly among community bands, both in appearance and activities. A good many years ago the town band in Cobourg was struggling. Then a new resident with a solid band background moved to town. Roland White (“Roly,” as he is known), had for many years served in bands of the Royal Marines, and studied conducting under Sir John Barbirolli. Having brought many of the traditions of the Royal Marines with him, the band was adopted as the official band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines Association, Ontario, and subsequently obtained Royal permission to wear a uniform closely resembling that of the Royal Marines. Some years ago, ill health forced White to retire and hand the reins over to Paul Storms, who carries on the tradition admirably.

Every year the band travels to Plattsburgh NY in September for the Battle of Plattsburgh Commemorative Weekend. As part of that celebration, they will be performing September 11 in a parade, beat retreat ceremony and evening concert. Once again this summer, from July 6 through to August 31, they will perform their summer-evening concert-series in the Victoria Park Bandshell in Cobourg. As with the Newmarket Band, this group participates regularly in parades and other ceremonial events.

The Markham Concert Band was organized 32 years ago by a group of local residents who had a common desire to make music. A few charter members are still active in the band. Unlike traditional town bands, this group has never participated in parades. They do, however, take part in a wide range of community activities. As of this writing, they already have commitments for 12 events this summer, ranging from a Main Street Festival to a concert at the Orillia Aquatheatre. As for uniforms, they are much less formal. In winter it’s a dark green sweater with an embroidered logo, and in summer it is a golf shirt with the same logo.

The Uxbridge Community Concert Band had its origins 19 years ago and bears little resemblance to the town bands of yesteryear. It is a summer-only band, operating only during the months of June, July and August. Founded initially to provide an opportunity for high school students to continue playing during the summer, it has evolved over the years to include a core group of adult players who return each summer. In addition, many of the original students return each year when they are home on vacation from university. As for uniform, each member receives a T shirt with a new musical motif each year on payment of their dues. They do not parade, but do play for one Decoration Day ceremony for the local branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. To encourage the development of the talents of the younger members, there is within the band a smaller wind ensemble which rehearses one special challenging selection each summer. This band is a welcome addition to the summer life of the community – but it’s quite unlike the town band of old.

Enjoy your summer of music, whatever your taste in bands!

Definition Department

This month’s lesser known musical term is: DILL PICCOLINI, “an exceedingly small wind instrument that plays only sour notes.” We invite submissions from readers.

Coming Events

July 18-August 21: National Band of the Naval Reserve will be performing a series of concerts in various locations throughout Southern Ontario as part of the celebrations commemorating the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Royal Canadian Navy.

August 8 7:00: Northdale Concert Band with conductor Graziano Brescacin presents a concert at the Upper Queen’s Park Bandshell, Stratford, Ontario. Free admission.

August 15 12:30pm: Northdale Concert Band with conductor Graziano Brescacins present a matinee concert at the Events Pavilion, Black Creek Pioneer Village, 1000 Murray Ross Parkway, Toronto. Concert is free with park admission.

August 15 6:30: Markham Concert Band with conductor Doug Manning performs at the Aquatheatre, Couchiching Beach Park, Orillia

August 22 6:30: Newmarket Citizens Band with conductor Les Saville perform at the Aquatheatre, Couchiching Beach Park, Orillia

August 29 12:30: Newmarket Citizens Band with conductor Les Saville presents a matinee concert at the Events Pavilion, Black Creek Pioneer Village, 1000 Murray Ross Parkway, Toronto. Concert is free with park admission.

September 5: Northdale Concert Band with conductor Graziano Brescacin performs at the Aquatheatre, Couchiching Beach Park, Orillia.

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

 

 

p23Brass week is coming to Toronto. As mentioned in last month’s column the International Women’s Brass Conference will be held June 16-20 in Toronto at the Humber College Lakeshore Campus. All of the performances during the week are at the auditorium of that campus. While the conference itself is restricted to those four days, organizers have planned a smorgasbord of musical events from serious academic sessions to whimsical anyone-can-join romps in the park. Space considerations limit how much detail I can include here, so I’ll try to highlight events of general interest. For registrations, ticket prices for performances, directions to venues and other information visit the IWBC website, www.iwbctoronto2010.com.

The first of the public participation affairs has been billed as “The World’s Biggest Brass Event!” The plan is to make an attempt at the world’s largest brass assembly ever. This will take place on Sunday, June 13, on the grounds of the Assembly Hall at Kipling Avenue and Lakeshore Boulevard, adjacent to the Humber campus. Rehearsal will begin at 11am with the grand performance at 12 noon. This will be open to men, women and children of all ages and abilities, and music will be available ahead of time online at www.iwbctoronto2010.com.

Anyone with an instrument that’s made of brass and is capable of producing a musical scale will be eligible to participate. (Having said that, yes, most saxophones are made of brass, but you won’t be eligible to play along if that’s your chosen instrument.) Join the headliner groups, True North Brass, Canadian Brass and Hannaford Street Silver Band for this once-in-a-lifetime chance to perform in such a musical aggregation. Whether it be a French horn, Wagner tuba, mellophone, bass trumpet, contrabass trombone, helicon, saxhorn, flicorno or keyed bugle, get out your brass instrument and perform under the baton of distinguished Canadian conductor and composer, Howard Cable. (Personally, I haven’t decided yet whether to take my bass trumpet or my Soviet Army rotary valve baritone horn.) They need every able-bodied brass player in the Toronto area, as the record to beat is 596 players. Let’s all try to help set a new Brass Event record. Remember, you too could be on Youtube! A minimum donation of $2 is requested, and proceeds will go to the establishment of a music programme for underprivileged youth in the Lakeshore area, sponsored by Lakeshore Arts.

June 14 and 15 are reserved for the 2010 Susan Slaughter International Brass Competitions. Named for the founder of the IWBC, these competitions are for performers (both women and men) of all brass instruments. It’s my understanding that these are now fully booked, and that there are no further openings for competitors.

While there are a wide variety of clinics, workshops and other sessions for conference delegates, there is a plethora of concerts open to the public as long as tickets are available. Peforming ensembles hail from near and far. Local groups include the Weston Silver Band, the True North Brass, and the Hannaford Street Silver Band. From further afield we’ll have the Monarch Brass and the Viceroy Brass from the USA, the Japanese Ladies Brass Band, Bella Tromba from the UK, and more. You’ll find details on all these concerts in Section A of The WholeNote’s listings.

Another fun-for-all happening will be the “Brass Olympics,” Saturday, June 19 from 5 to 7:45pm on the east side of the Humber College grounds. If you’re frustrated with your brass playing abilities, then perhaps you should test your athletic prowess with one of these. For the muscular macho types there is the Tuba Toss to see who can throw a tuba the greatest distance out into Lake Ontario. There will be a line attached to retrieve the instrument after each competitor’s toss. For those wanting a challenge requiring more finesse, there will be the Horn Bell Frisbee Throw, the Trumpet Pin Game or the Trombone Balance competition. There will be prizes and fanfares, lots of fun, and a dinner at a nearby church.
The conference wraps up with a concert appropriately named “Brass Belles,” presented in conjunction with the Hannaford Street Silver Band at the St. Lawrence Centre. An array of brass band showpieces by international composers will be performed by an all-female cast of soloists and led by guest conductor Gillian MacKay. Soloists include Carol Jantsch, principal tubist of the Philadelphia Orchestra; Susan Rider, lead cornet soloist with the US Marine Band; Bonnie Denton, euphonium soloist with the US Coast Guard Band; Gail Robertson, euphonium soloist performing J. Scott Irvine’s Concertino; and Joan Watson, principal horn of the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra.

To provide a taste of the talent level expected at these events, I was sent a CD of tuba solos by Jantsch. She’s the young lady who startled the orchestral world by winning the prestigious tuba position in Philadelphia, thereby beating out some of the finest players in the world in a normally male-dominated position. After her first performance with the orchestra in New York’s Carnegie Hall, Carol had to rush back to write her final examinations at the University of Michigan.

In her CD, entitled Cascades, she displays a virtuosity rarely heard on a tuba. From the intricacies of a tango by Piazzolla, the allegro from a Khachaturian violin concerto and the ever popular Clarinet Polka she displays a technique normally only expected of much smaller instruments. She then shifts gears to a lyrical Adagio by Shostakovich where she showcases her tone and range. She will be one of the soloists at the Brass Belles concert.

On another front, we have news from Resa Kochberg. From time to time we have mentioned Resa’s Pieces Concert Band, established a number of years ago by Kochberg. The stated philosophy of that group from the beginning has been “to provide an opportunity for people to return to playing instruments that they had not touched for years.” Now Kochberg is launching a new venture: the Resa’s Pieces Strings. The RPS will be launched in September and will be under the directorship of Ric Giorgi, who will be welcomed into the Resa’s Pieces “family.” Look for more information in a later issue of this magazine, or contact them at: strings@resaspieces.org.

In the meantime CBC Radio is producing a documentary on Resa’s Pieces Concert Band. This is scheduled to be aired as part of “Sunday Edition,” which airs on CBC Radio One (99.1 FM) on June 6 – just before the band’s concert that evening.

Please write to us: bandstand@thewholenote.com

Definition Department
This month’s lesser known musical term is: “CORAL SYMPHONY”: a large multi-movement work from Beethoven’s Caribbean Period. We invite submissions from readers.

Coming Events Please see the listings section for full details.

• Wednesday, June 16, 7:00: The Etobicoke Community Concert Band present the first of their Twilight Concerts in the Park. There will be a community BBQ, 5:00 to 7:00. Admission is free.

Down the Road
• Between July 18 and August 21: The National Band of the Naval Reserve will be performing a series of concerts in various locations throughout Southern Ontario to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Royal Canadian Navy.

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

p23bThere were a few musical events in my life in recent weeks that furnished a couple of topics for my column this month. The first has to do with joint performances of choirs and bands.

In last December’s Bandstand column I talked about choirs performing with concert bands and how that form of joint venture was very popular over the Christmas holiday season. At that time we lamented the dearth of music written specifically for such a combination. Subsequently, I received a few letters on the subject, but little evidence to contradict what I had written. I still found little evidence of any conscious effort on the part of bands, choirs, arrangers or composers to rectify that situation. What a pleasant surprise it was then when, a few weeks ago, I was treated to no fewer than three such works on a single programme.

The event was a joint concert in late March by the Oriana Singers of Cobourg and the Concert Band of Cobourg. With the assistance of a grant from the Trillium Foundation of Ontario these organizations were able commission two special very diverse arrangements. The first arrangement, entitled A Ruth Lowe Celebration, was a medley of tunes by that Canadian composer, including “I’ll Never Smile Again” and “Put Your Dreams Away.” I’m accustomed to hearing choirs perform with bands, but there’s always the sense that separate groups are sharing the platform. Rather, in this concert, there was the sense of hearing a unified single ensemble, and listeners were treated to a smooth blend of voice, woodwind and brass rarely heard.

Their rendition of Freddy Mercury’s Bohemian Rhapsody was very different. It bore no resemblance to the arrangement often performed by concert bands, and certainly did not indicate that its roots were in a rock band some years ago. The third joint venture was an original work on a sacred theme. “Benedictus” by Steven M. Baric exploited the unique tonality of these combined forces in a way rarely heard.

In a future issue I hope to be able to get some insight into the process involved with the Trillium Foundation for such purposes. I also hope to get information on how other groups might obtain copies and performance rights for these works, which deserve to be heard more widely.

In our concert listings in last month’s issue there was an announcement of a joint venture on May 1 by the Orillia Wind Ensemble and the Cellar Singers. I hope to attend their version of the “Last Night of the Proms," in my quest for more of that combination.

The second topic has to do with how the role of women in bands has changed over the years. When I first started playing in a “boys’ band” some years ago, I was unaware of how girls were routinely excluded. That’s probably because there were girls in our band. Solo cornet and first trombone positions were both held by girls. On reflection though, perhaps they had received some preferential treatment; they were daughters of the bandmaster.

Some time ago I wrote about the controversy sparked at the University of Toronto in 1947 when a young woman applied to join the band. The student council held a formal debate to determine whether or not the musician in question should be permitted to join the band. I’m happy to report that the woman is still playing regularly in a community band some 63 years later.

p24aMy interest in this subject was kindled again when a friend sent me an email with an article about a trumpet soloist in a community band in Massachusetts. As a child in elementary school, Edith Pliskin always wanted to play an instrument and thought of taking up the violin, she said, “but my brother, Jimmy, suggested the trumpet because few women play that instrument.” When she attended the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, the university did not permit women to play in the band. “At that time it was for men only.” Sound familiar? Well Edith now has her day. Her next performance will be with a wind ensemble at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, on May 4. As usual, she will probably play at least one solo. Oh, I guess I forgot to mention that Edith celebrated her 90th birthday a while back.

p24bIf that isn’t sufficient evidence of how the role of women in bands has changed, consider this. The next International Women’s Brass Conference will be held June 16-20, 2010, in Toronto at Humber College. This annual conference was founded in 1993 by Susan Slaughter, principal trumpet of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra who is retiring at the end of this season after 40 years of leading the brass section of that orchestra. In her honour, the conference has announced the 2010 Susan Slaughter International Brass Competitions. These competitions for women performers of all brass instruments will be held prior to the conference from June 13 to 16. The conference will be hosted by well known Toronto hornist Joan Watson and Denny Christianson, head of music at Humber College.

Most portions of the conference will take place at the Humber College Lakeshore Campus with concerts at the Assembly Hall a short distance to the East. The Grand Finale Concert of the conference, appropriately named “Brass Belles,” will take place at The Jane Mallett Theatre. It promises to be a spectacular pairing of some amazing IWBC Guest Artists and Toronto’s own Hannaford Street Silver Band. Look for more details in the June issue of The WholeNote. In the meantime visit their website, www.iwbctoronto2010.com.

Another item I was going to talk about was migrating back to orchestral playing after years of playing in concert bands. However, I’ve run out of space – more on that in a future issue. Let’s hear your stories.

Definition Department

This month’s lesser known musical term is CACOPHANY: “a composition incorporating many people with chest colds.”We invite submissions from readers.

Coming Events

• May 1, 7:15pm: Milton Concert Band presents “A Perfect Score – Music from Movies and Television.” St. Paul’s United Church.

• May 1, 7:30pm: Orillia Wind Ensemble presents “Last Night
of the Proms.” Rule Britannia, and other classics. Roy Menagh, director, with the Cellar Singers. Orillia Opera House, 20 Mississaga St. W., Orillia.

• May 2 and 9, 3:00pm: Wellington Winds presents “The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire.” Works by Vaughan Williams, Elgar, Grainger, Cable, Benjamin and others. Daniel Warren, conductor; Michael Purves-Smith, oboe. First United Church, 16 William St., Waterloo.

• May 7, 8:00pm: Etobicoke Community Concert Band, John Edward Liddle, conductor present “Glorious and Free,” a programme of marches, anthems and songs. A musical tribute to our Canadian military featuring Kathy Thompson, guest vocalist. Silverthorn Collegiate Auditorium, 291 Mill Road, Etobicoke.

• May 15, 2:00pm: Northdale Concert Band, with conductor Stephen Chenette, pays tribute to legendary Canadian composer and trumpet player Johnny Cowell. The concert will feature some of Cowell’s most famous solos as performed by well-known trumpet player John Edward Liddle plus a special guest appearance by Johnny Cowell himself. Scarborough Civic Centre, 150 Borough Drive. Admission free.

• May 15, 7:30pm: Festival Wind Orchestra offers “Spring into Summer,” Keith Reid, conductor. Jarvis Collegiate Institute.

Down the Road

• June 20, 3:00pm: Hannaford Street Silver Band presents “Brass Belles” with brass band showpieces by international composers, performed by an all-female cast of soloists and led by guest conductor Gillian MacKay, Jane Mallett Theatre, St. Lawrence Centre.

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

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