SIDNEY — When flautist Svenja Frey arrived from Germany to attend high school for a year in Sidney, she immediately joined the Parkland Secondary School band.
“As a German exchange student, daily life in another language can be hard sometimes. Music is like an international language to me, spoken the same all over the world.”
Little did she realize she would have a chance to flex her musical muscle in the Sidney Concert Band (SCB), while supporting her school’s band program through SCB’s annual Christmas Benefit Concert.
“I’ve played in orchestras like the Sidney Concert Band before,” explains Svenja, “and it’s wonderful to find people on the other side of the world who enjoy music just as much as I do. It reminds me of home and now having the opportunity to play in the local concert band while supporting the school band programs is fantastic!
The SCB presents Christmas Memories, an evening of family-friendly seasonal music, vocals and an audience sing-along on Mon., Dec. 11 in the Parkland Secondary School Theatre. Concert proceeds will benefit the three Peninsula secondary school band programs. A pre-show Flute Ensemble will perform at 6:30 p.m. and the main show begins at 7 p.m.
This year’s concert features an assortment of Christmas favourites such as It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year and Spirit of Christmas – a medley of traditional carols interwoven with the most iconic poem of the season, Twas the Night Before Christmas, as recited by SCB’s own raconteur extraordinaire, John Hewson. Vocalists Stephanie Benbow and Georgina Stevens will present Christmas from the ’50s and Jim Kingham will warm your heart with his rendition of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. The evening will also feature special guests, the High Notes Flute Choir and the band’s own brass section in A Merry Brassy Christmas.
Conductor Bruce Ham knows only too well the demands of maintaining a viable band program.
“As a retired high school band director, I’m keenly aware of the financial needs of a school band program. Instruments and music are very expensive, so any help we can give these programs will be greatly appreciated.”
Ham is actively involved with the Peninsula band programs at Parkland, Stelly’s and Claremont secondary schools and through these connections, four students were invited to play with the SCB for the Dec. 11 concert.
“Sharing our collective musical knowledge with young people is so rewarding,” Ham said. “The young people who perform with the Sidney Concert Band have the opportunity to sit next to ‘seasoned’ musicians who are wonderful mentors. These students then take that experience back to their school and all their peers benefit as well.”
Stelly’s tenor saxophonist, William Beauvais, couldn’t agree more.
“The SCB is a great opportunity to meet friendly, talented people, and have fun! I’m excited to bring the skills they’ve taught me back to my bands at Stelly’s as well as our local 676 Air Cadet band!”
Schoolmate and percussionist, Sierra Newlove, echoes William’s sentiments.
“I’ve enjoyed playing in the Sidney Concert Band these past few weeks, alongside so many experienced musicians.
“Now I’m looking forward to applying my new skills in the Stelly’s school band.”
Trumpeter Ryan Kelly from Parkland says, “being able to play in the SCB has allowed me to challenge myself and discover my full potential. I’ve learned new playing techniques from the veteran musicians in the band and can’t wait to teach what I’ve learned to the other kids in my school band.”
For Svenja Frey, the SCB has quickly become a way to connect with musicians outside of Parkland Secondary.
“There are so many friendly, supportive and talented people in this band, Sidney can consider itself lucky!”
The Parkland Theatre and parking area is located at the back of Parkland Secondary School, 10640 McDonald Park Road in North Saanich.
Entrance to the concert is by donation at the door. Food bank items are also encouraged.
Submitted by Yvonne Kupsch