For St. Albert Community Concert Band, the sound of silence these past two years was the most deafening of all.
It was the silence of cancelled concerts, of being forced to change your tune and not share what you love most — the floating sounds of music that speak so loudly without saying a word.
However, the pandemic is in a new phase and 60 registered musicians return to the Arden Theatre on Wednesday, June 8 for their first big concert since December 2019. Titled The Sounds of Summer, it breaks the silences and showcases the strength of the future and the seasonal joie de vivre we enjoy.
Opening the concert is the Saint City Jazz Band playing six tunes led by Brian Demuynck. Following is the concert band led by Dr. Angela Schroeder performing a seven-part program.
“A return to a formal concert setting is a triumph. We worked so hard to bring music back. We are built for a concert setting and collectively we are excited to bring people back together. And to know people have waited for us to return, and to know we have such strong support in the community, is so exciting,” said Schroeder.
Planning a repertoire coming out of two years without rehearsals was a challenge. Schroeder solved the issue by injecting a balanced program of music for the “high-calibre band.”
“I tried to find repertoire so this group would have an equal amount of challenge and familiarity. I picked a couple of pieces they had played before. I picked a couple of pieces that were challenging, and I picked a couple of crowd favourites.”
The concert band is tapped to play diverse master works from 19th century Italian opera composer Gioachino Rossini to modern day Los Angeles composer Frank Ticheli. Schroeder also includes a Ukrainian hymn as an expression of solidarity for the suffering caused by an unnecessary war.
Among the works are Ticheli’s Vesuvius, a musical reflection on the resilience of the human spirit. On the other hand, Rossini’s Italian in Algiers doesn’t take itself too seriously beginning on delicate notes before moving toward a bombastic ending.
Schroeder also included Gustav Holst’s The Moorside March, a patriotic burst of notes.
“He writes so brilliantly. He understands what makes instruments blend and has a mastery of different chords. He’s a genius and everything he writes is crafted with beauty.”
Brian Balmages’ Three Celtic Dances is an exploration of three Scottish dance forms explored as a spirited tune.
“The dance styles are reel, air, and jig. The reel and jig are bright and light, and air in the middle is a beautiful, gorgeous saxophone solo played by George Botelho.”
Mykola Lysenko’s Prayer for Ukraine, the spiritual anthem of Ukraine is now an international staple. This patriotic hymn was first published in 1885 when Lysenko wrote the music to accompany Oleksandr Konysky’s text.
“It’s been widely performed around the world. People have performed it as the national anthem, but it’s what you would call the unofficial national anthem.”
Schroeder and the band were moved by the loss of life in Ukraine and how it affected so many individuals and families locally.
“There are so many connections in St. Albert. We can’t do much to help. But this is the one thing we can do besides giving money. We can express our solidarity and our empathy. With music we can express how we feel.”
Schroeder went on to describe how the pandemic made many people realize the importance of music in our lives.
“It put a hole in our lives and I’m grateful so many musicians took the risk to come back. I’m glad people can get past the fear and hopefully move on to the other side.”