April was traditionally a busy month for band programs pre-pandemic, but the last two springs fell silent with COVID-19 looming in the wings.
Music teachers and students had their musical hands tied in many ways over the past two years with numerous restrictions on playing wind instruments. This, along with limited to no performance opportunities, was leading the future of band programs down an increasingly difficult path. Although live streaming and recording performances was an option used by most, there is nothing that can replicate the excitement and shared experience of a live concert.
Thankfully, this April Carihi and Timberline secondary bands were able to travel again and perform at two prominent music festivals on Vancouver Island. Carihi Secondary, under the direction of Kolya Kowalchuk, and Timberline Secondary, under the direction of Terry Johnson, brought concert bands to the Vancouver Island Concert Band Festival at Alberni District Secondary school. Bands traveled from all over Vancouver Island to perform during the three-day event from April 12-14. Both Carihi and Timberline received a gold rating from the adjudicators, as well as an invitation to Musicfest Canada Nationals in 2023.
“It was a euphoric experience to not only travel and perform for a live audience again, but to also hear other bands perform,” Kowalchuk says. “Students were thrilled to travel and perform, as well as hear their peers from across the island share their musical gifts.”
Carihi and Timberline jazz bands also traveled on April 27 to the West Coast Jazz Festival at Vancouver Island University. Once again, both bands brought down the house with their sets and received gold ratings and a two-year standing invitation to Musicfest Canada Nationals.
The success of these bands is a testament to the dedication of each student’s joy of music making. The opportunity for students to be a part of successful band programs wouldn’t be possible without support from School District 72. The school board and trustees understanding of music’s multifaceted benefits is exemplified by the fact these programs continue to exist after more than two troublesome pandemic years. Considering recent news around the Greater Victoria school board potentially cutting music programs, it is wonderful to live in a city where music is a prominent part of our public school system, Kowalchuk says.
Both schools will be having band concerts to wrap-up the school year. Timberline will be having its concerts in June. Carihi is having a joint concert with Phoenix Middle School on June 22 at 7 p.m. (doors at 6:30) at the Campbell River Baptist Church. Admission is by donation to the band programs. Come enjoy and support the hard work of all the young musicians.
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