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Band Returns from Toronto Tour


The SVRSS Concert Band – comprised of 35 students from Grades 9-12, six chaperones and directors Glenda Turton and Mark Matejka departed Swan River on May 14 for the educational trip of a lifetime in an eight day performance and cultural experience in Toronto and Niagara Falls, Ont., where they learned so much about themselves, their music and each other.
The group landed first in Toronto where they spent almost two hours in clinic with Jeff Reynolds the director of bands at the University of Toronto. The band worked on developing the artistic style and interpretation of the competitive music that they would play on the trip.
“Jeff was very impressed by the fact that we had a mixed grade band that could play at the level they were,” said Director Glenda Turton.
The following afternoon the students took the knowledge they received and put it forth at the Festival of Music at Canada’s Wonderland.
“The adjudicator, Peter Stoll from the University of Toronto, was impressed by our choice of music,” said Turton. “He said all three pieces were first rate and highly respected. He was impressed by our small group size and big sound and the fact that we played with lots of expression.
“The sound technician who listened to well over 50 groups also commented that we were one of the best groups to date and our music choices were above par,” added Turton.
The group didn’t stop sharing their hard work there. They performed at many different venues during their travels such as the St. Emily’s Catholic School and the Emerald Retirement Home.
“I think all of the students would agree our most satisfying concert was the one we performed at the Emerald Retirement Home,” said Turton.
The group also performed at the Greg Frewin Theater as the opening act for the world famous magician and master of illusion Greg Frewin and at the Oakes Garden Theatre for one last outdoor venue.
“As people walked by they would stop in to watch us and listen,” said Turton. “We grew a crowd, among which included a priest from Lebanon who recorded some of our songs and wanted pictures with the band, an older family travelling from Italy who danced to a few of our tunes and a couple from the middle east who asked if we could play a song in the Arabian style – of which we were happy to oblige.
“Every single concert was a learning experience,” she added. “Not just musically but from the entertainment perspective as well.”
Aside from performing, the students participated in many events that they’ll remember and cherish for years to come.
“Every student would probably tell you something different,” said Turton.
They attended a performance of Mahler’s 7th Symphony by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and toured the Royal Ontario Museum. They took in some of the big tourist sights such as the CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium, sailed on the Tall Ship Kajama on Lake Ontario and rode the roller coasters at Canada’s Wonderland. In Niagara Falls they enjoyed a meal at Medieval Times, toured the falls as they dropped from the Niagara Escarpment into the gorge, road on the Hornblower Cruise Boat to the base of the falls, toured the Butterfly Conservatory and rode the Niagara Skywheel. Some students also spent time amusing themselves with other activities in the Clifton Hill Amusement Park area on the group’s last night at Niagara Falls.
“These trips are important for so many reasons, music and otherwise” said Turton. “From the music and performance perspective, the students have opportunities to work with top band teachers and clinicians in North America at top rated universities, to help them improve their skills. They get to perform in festivals with groups from an entirely different part of the country and see how their musical skills and knowledge measure up against other schools. As musicians, to even do such a trip, they learn to be committed by putting in time to learn and become proficient at music of a higher quality and performance standard.
“Perhaps the most unique thing though, was that over the time span of the tour, the students evolved from a loosely organized unit of individuals into a tight knit team who supported each other and worked well together.
“We had students who had never flown, students who struggled with homesickness, students afraid of heights, boats, butterflies and snakes and in every case instead of being made to feel bad for their fears they were helped and supported by other students. As the group leaders, Mark Matejka and myself found it very rewarding to see the students come together, look out for each other, complete their road crew jobs so well and then turn in a top notch performance. We're very proud of this group.”
The SVRSS Concert Band may have completed their trip, however, their performance year isn’t over yet.
They will come together once again to host the All Valley Jazz Night on May 30 at the SVRSS.
“Groups from the SVRSS, ESRSS, Minitonas and Benito will be performing,” said Turton.
On June 16, the SVRSS Senior Concert Band, the Grade 9 Concert Band and the Toronto/Niagara Falls Concert Band will also be having their Spring and Summer Concert.
“We’re changing things a bit and we will be setting up and playing at the band stand at the bottom of Taylor School hill,” said Turton.
The performance will begin at 2 p.m. on June 16.
“We hope the people around the Valley will come out and join us for an afternoon of music. We will be playing a variety of music from old time favourites to movie themes and modern music,” said Turton.
All in all, the experience has left the band better performers, better friends, and they are looking forward to concluding the year with a few last performances.
“They were a great crew and we’re very proud of every one of them,” concluded Turton. “We hope we can do this again in 2022.”

Jakki Lumax