For the St. Albert Community Concert Band, the sound of silence over the past two years has been the most deafening of all.
It was the silence of canceled concerts, of being forced to change tunes and not sharing what you love the 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 Theater on Wednesday June 8 for their first major concert since December 2019. Titled The sounds of summerit breaks the silences and highlights 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 conducted by Brian Demuynck. Here is the concert band conducted by Dr. Angela Schroeder performing a program in seven parts.
“The return to a formal gig is a triumph. We worked so hard to bring the music back. We are built for a concert setting and collectively we love bringing people together. And to know that people have been waiting for us to come back and to know that we have such support in the community is so exciting,” Schroeder said.
Planning a two-year outgoing repertoire without rehearsals was a challenge. Schroeder solved the problem by injecting a balanced musical program for the “high caliber group”.
“I tried to find a repertoire so that this group would have as much challenge as familiarity. I picked out a few songs they had played before. I picked a few pieces that were difficult, and I picked out a few crowd favorites.
The orchestra is called upon to perform various masterpieces from 19th century Italian opera composer Gioachino Rossini to modern Los Angeles composer Frank Ticheli. Schroeder also includes a Ukrainian anthem as an expression of solidarity for the suffering caused by an unnecessary war.
Among the works are those of Ticheli Mount Vesuvius, a musical reflection on the resilience of the human spirit. On the other hand, Rossini Italian in Algiers does not take itself too seriously by starting on delicate notes before evolving towards a grandiloquent end.
Schroeder also included Gustav Holst The Moorside Walka burst of patriotic notes.
“He writes so brilliantly. He understands what makes the instruments blend together and masters the different chords. He’s a genius and everything he writes is done with beauty.
Brian Balmages’ Three Celtic Dances is an exploration of three Scottish dance forms explored as one spirited melody.
“The dance styles are reel, air and jig. The reel and jig are bright and light, and the tune in the middle is a beautiful, beautiful saxophone solo played by George Botelho.
Mykola Lyssenko Prayer for Ukraine, the spiritual anthem of Ukraine is now an international staple. This patriotic anthem was first published in 1885 when Lyssenko wrote the music to accompany the text by Oleksandr Konysky.
“It has been widely played around the world. People interpreted 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 people and families locally.
“There are so many connections in St. Albert. We can’t do much to help you. But that’s the only thing we can do besides giving money. We can express our solidarity and our empathy. With music, we can express what we feel.
Schroeder went on to describe how the pandemic has made many people aware of the importance of music in our lives.
“It put a hole in our lives and I’m grateful to so many musicians for taking the risk to come back. I’m glad people can overcome the fear and hopefully get through to the other side.