Arts and Entertainment

Orangeville Community Band looking forward to performances for 2023 season

February 2, 2023   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Life for the Orangeville Community Band (OCB) “over the past few years has been pretty disruptive,” commented Maryann Gardhouse, OCB’s Publicity Director and flute player. “This is our first year of getting into our routine.”

First off, this evening (Feb. 2) is the band’s “bring your friend” event. It’s a casual invite to anyone passionate about music to come and play. It’s also an opportunity to recruit new players or watch the practice. Their rehearsals tend to run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and are held at the Salvation Army’s New Hope Community Church (690 Riddell Road).

“There is a beginner band also,” she said. “Who are new learners, from age nine, up. They will learn how to read music and learn an instrument.”

She said, “We’re always looking for new members.”

Peter Gardhouse, OCB president and trombone player, explained, “Before this, we were practicing at ODSS in a much smaller space, whereas this is a larger space in the sanctuary. Educators from the school system are strong supporters.” 

The band members provide their own instruments, Ms. Gardhouse informed us. Either they own them or rent them, saying, “Pretty much all players own their instruments – trumpet, flute, horns, strings – a wide diversity in instruments.”

The band executive has made purchases of the larger percussion instruments.

“The drum kit is owned by the member,” was her comment.

All such bands exist, to some extent, on ticket sales, which go in part to purchasing and maintaining large percussion instruments. The sales are also used for the general operation of the band: rent for rehearsal space, sheet music and other expenses. The church is a good fit as the Salvation Army appreciates the historical connection with bands.

In October 2022, OCB played two concerts at the New Hope Community Church and in December, they performed their Music of Christmas show. The proceeds from that were shared 50/50 with the church.

He told us, “Our Christmas concert was a great success; over 200 people came. We needed more chairs, for the first time in many years. It was a great feeling.”

Their season starts again in a couple of weeks. At home in their own rehearsal space, they are beginning with their “switch a seat evening.” This is the one rehearsal when the players mix it up, sitting with one instrument in each other’s sections. Ms. Gardhouse will take her flute and sit in with bass, perhaps. “To sit with others is really enjoyable. It gives the chance to focus your attention on the sections,” is the challenge for just one night.

Joy Spencer is the OCB’s conductor. A music teacher herself, she has been an excellent conductor for a number of years; before that shift, she played the trumpet and took over “via an evolution.” She stepped in and has done a great job, Ms. Gardhouse enthused. Ms. Spencer is also the music director. Open to feedback from band members, ultimately, music selection is her decision, usually with a theme and a bit of a story.

“Joy writes the script for the MC too,” said Mr. Gardhouse, adding, “She has written some pieces; always adding to our repertoire.”

With the season for OCB typically beginning in September and running to the beginning of June, OCB’s ambitions for this year are to hold concerts later in the year. For the nonce, Mar. 10 is planned for the band to attend two schools, East Garafaxa P.S. (kindergarten to grade 8) and a new independent school, By Design Learning (junior kindergarten to grade 8).

The idea is for the band to perform briefly for the students. Then, they play the instruments individually to hear what each sounds like and discuss the skill of playing them. It is something the band members have done so for the past years.

Said Maryann Gardhouse, “This was the very last thing we did in 2020 before Covid. The students really were interested in the music; so, to keep them involved, we chose music they knew from Frozen and How to Train Your Dragon – Carnival of the Animals.”

She went on, “The schools reached out to the band. It makes a nice change by going to different schools. We have been as well to other local schools.”

Tentatively, OCB will perform a ticketed concert in the springtime.

“We hope to be invited to the Blues and Jazz Festival as we have been previously. We chose more jazzy pieces. A good chance to play that different style. Fun for the band members to get into to it, with more horn and sax and some great arrangements.”

A membership of close to 40 people are hoping to play on the Friday of the Blues and Jazz Festival. Between work schedules, there is good coverage of most sections of the band.

Thursday rehearsals include the beginner band before, from 6:30 to 7:00 p.m.

“It’s really exciting when a child wants to learn an instrument and then, so does the parent,” said Mr. Gardhouse.

The couple both come from musical families. In PEI, Ms. Gardhouse’s family sang, and her dad played the guitar. They joined the church choir, took piano lessons, and she played the flute in high school. A native of East Garafraxa, Mr. Gardhouse claimed, “Music was part of my upbringing. Mother played piano and took lessons from Stan Elliotson. Mother conducted local band.”

Even though most OCB members come with some musical background, there is lots of opportunity to learn. OCB had someone come to teach the percussion; someone else came in to teach music theory. Lots of members are still learning.

So often in the band, as they get to know everybody and chat, one hears, “I put it down and didn’t play for years and started learning again in the band. That was the first time we came back to music.” 

OBC website and Instagram and Facebook carry band news and invitations to join.

“If someone does want to show up in person to rehearsals,” Maryann Gardhouse promised, “they’re welcomed.”


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