Fifteen musicians were unexpectedly absent from the south end elementary bands’ year-end concert, titled Jubilation, at the Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School on Thursday, June 7.
Don Bennett, music teacher and conductor of the performance, said he knew a few students were unable to attend but that the number of empty seats was a surprise. Several of missing musicians carried fairly big parts, he said.
“Some of the kids were really nervous because their bandmates were missing,” said Bennett.
He quickly added, “it’s actually a good thing,” since it shows them how important each member is to the team.
Bennett stalled the show for a few minutes, in hopes of late arrivals, but ultimately proceeded with the performance, earning a chuckle from the crowd upon admitting the empty seats were making him “a little stressed.”
The attending musicians powered through renditions of Furioso, by R. W. Smith, Drums of Corona, by M. Sweeney, Dragon Slayer, by R. Grice, Chronicles, by L. Clark, Nature’s Fury, by J. McBride, the Theme from Jurassic Park, by J. Williams, arr. M. Sweeney, Offenbach Back to Back, by J. Offenbach arr. J. Compello and a bonus performance of Ode to Joy, by Beethoven.
When the concert concluded, Bennett said he was happy with the final showing.
“It’s been fun guiding them along and challenging them.”
He said he thinks the kids enjoyed themselves and that he saw a good sign up for next year’s bands. “That’s my big goal, that they keep going.”
Throughout the concert, Bennett stressed the importance of music in promoting creative thinking and teaching children how to learn and how to work with others.
“I’m a big geek about that,” he said after telling the crowd of proud parents that “music in a team is the highest level to achieve creative thinking skills and teamwork.”
Leading up to the final performance, Bennett said he worked with high school music teacher, Jasmine Kreschuk, so the bands could practice in PSO.
A hand full of the high school band members requested to sit in on the performance, which he said is a great way for the older and younger students to connect.
Kreschuk agreed the collaboration was “great for everyone involved.”
The high school music teacher said she worked in the elementary music program for 10 years prior and sees the value of music for both age groups.
The students acquire “lifelong friends” while learning essential life skills in a positive environment, she said. “It’s like a little community in the music program.”
Thursday’s concert included the Forest Grove Elementary Grade 5-7 band, the Horse Lake Elementary Grade 6/7 band, the Mile 108 Elementary Grade 6/7 band, the 100 Mile House Elementary Grade 6 and Grade 7 bands with a sprinkle of musicians from PSO Secondary School.
The PSO band held its year-end concert in the gymnasium on Tuesday, June 12.