St. Andrew's College
St. Andrew's College News
August 5, 2016

Wind Ensemble Judged Top 5 in Canada

SAC’s Wind Ensemble has attained its highest level of achievement ever at MusicFest Nationals.

The Upper School band was one of just five to win gold at the highly competitive B400 level at last week’s competition in Ottawa. It was also the only independent school, as well as the only Ontario ensemble.

The Wind Ensemble earned sliver at last year’s MusicFest Nationals in Toronto, the first year competing at level 400 after more than a decade of gold-medal wins at level B300.

“We were given a challenge and we nailed it,” says an elated Sandi Chasson, Director of Music. “This victory proves we have one of the best high school bands in Ontario, and one of the five best in Canada. How incredible is that!”

MusicFest Nationals brings together 10,000 young musicians in different Canadian cities annually, providing clinics and workshops led by professional musicians. The competition component has two parts: a sight-reading and clinic, which was overseen by Jonathan Dagenais, McGill University’s Director of Bands; a 15-minute performance before four judges – three judging the band and one judging the conductor. The performance must include a lyrical piece, an orchestral piece, and a Canadian work.

 The lyrical piece showcased their musicality and was comprised of two movements from Three Celtic Dances. A brilliant solo was performed by Tony Sul on the piccolo and Leo Wang on the alto saxophone. Ms. Chasson says the Wind Ensemble is learning the third movement and will play the entire piece in December at An Andrean Christmas at Roy Thomson Hall. The Canadian work was Land of the Midnight Sun featuring Owen Luo as the trumpet soloist. The orchestral piece was The Winged Stallion and a clip from this performance be heard here.

The Middle School Band also competed, earning two golds and two silvers from the judges, giving them an overall silver. “I’m very pleased, thrilled in fact, with what these 38 boys have accomplished,” says John Richardson, Middle School Music Director.

“They made no errors or mistakes,” says John proudly, despite playing on a huge stage in front of professional judges. There were also a number of parents in the audience. “It was an intimidating situation but they did great.”

The Music Department’s move into their new space in the Centre for Leadership, Innovation & Performance is a factor in their successes.

“Word is out that we have these incredible new facilities, so we were able to attract some high-level coaches to our first Band Camp in September,” says Garry Page, Upper School music teacher.

“That got us off to a great start this year,” agrees Ms. Chasson. “We’ve been on a performing roll since Christmas.” The concert at Roy Thomson Hall was followed by at gold win at MusicFest Regionals, participation in CISMF, the St. Andrew’s Festival of the Arts, a concert in Town Park for the Church Parade, and a musical tattoo at Cadet Inspection.

“The boys have played so much this year, I knew they were ready for MusicFest,” says Ms. Chasson. With half the band consisting of grade 9 and 10 students, the future looks bright. With last week’s win under their belt, she is expecting invitations from prestigious musical festivals in the United States.

Meanwhile, the younger musicians are ready to perform in tonight’s Middle School Music Festival. Mr. Richardson says the audience can expect to hear a wide selection of numbers including a five-minute Star Wars medley. The band has voted on which MusicFest ballad to perform.

Parents are invited to attend a social starting at 6:15 in Staunton Gallery followed by the concert at 7 p.m. in Ketchum Auditorium. Entry is free and registration is not required.

Story by Cindy Veitch

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