With summer approaching, most community musical groups will have finished the last of their regular concerts. Some will close down for the summer, while others will embark on a mixture of park concerts, summer festival performances and various other less formal musical events. This slowdown in more structured activities could accord band and orchestra members opportunities for revitalization and musical exploration. In chats with our editor, a variety of pathways to explore came to mind. What about trying our hands at a different instrument, a different method of studying our instrument or exploring a different musical genre?
With the myriad of spring concerts behind most community musical groups, it seemed like an opportune time to express some personal opinions which have been festering in my head for some time. Over the past two weekends, during which I have attended three concerts and one play, and played in one performance, a few pet peeves have boiled to the surface of my consciousness. This seemed like a good time to pontificate on my aversion to the many distractions to which concert goers and performers are subjected. Let's just lump these all under the heading of distractions.
Before mounting my high horse about audience decorum, I feel compelled to recall two incidents years apart that evoke laughter for me. The first happened many years ago when I attended my first symphony concert after my arrival in Toronto. It was at a time when there were regular "Prom Concerts" at Varsity Arena. These were promoted as less formal than the winter concerts at Massey Hall. Unfortunately, the interpretation of the term informality by the two elderly ladies seated directly behind me, went too far for my liking. Throughout the entire concert I was "treated" to the incessant rhythm of clicking knitting needles.
Preparing to write this month’s column, no fewer than three announcements for significant events featuring Silver Bands landed on my desk. In order: the Hannaford Silver Band’s 6th annual Festival of Brass; the Weston Silver Band’s Concert with special guest Douglas Yeo (bass trombone of the Boston Symphony); and the Metropolitan Silver Band’s 75th anniversary celebration. My editor seemed to find this more significant than I did, so I took to the internet to find out if there were important distinctions between Silver Bands and Brass Bands.
Two disparate recent events prompt these ruminations. The first is the massive downturn of the global economy with its inevitable adverse effect on disposable income. The second was the receipt in the mail of an excellent biography. The book, In The Firing Line by Toronto author Wallace L. Court, is a biography with a difference. It chronicles the life of noted Salvation Army composer, Colonel Bramwell Coles.
Recession woes led us to wondering what effect this financial situation might have on the health of community musical groups. In the tough times projected for the foreseeable future, will band and orchestra members curtail their participation to save money, or will they turn more to this form of recreation.