The Phoenix school band performs at the Con Brio music festival in Whistler last week.

Phoenix band soars at Whistler music festival

The École Phoenix Middle School senior jazz band and concert band traveled to Whistler

The École Phoenix Middle School senior jazz band and concert band traveled to Whistler to perform in the four day Con Brio music festival from April 23 to 26.

This festival is an annual event that alternates between Sun Peaks and Whistler and draws bands from across Canada. This year’s event had participants from Alberta, Saskatchewan, and as far as Ontario.

The festival is open to concert band, orchestra, choir, vocal jazz, and jazz band.

“I really enjoy music festivals like this because students get a chance to perform, and hear their peers from across the province and country,” said Phoenix music director and teacher, Kolya Kowalchuk. “I still remember going on trips like this when I was in band during middle school and high school here in Campbell River. The memories created on this kind of trip last a lifetime.”

Phoenix’s senior jazz band received a rating of silver, and the concert band got an incredible 90 per cent for their rating of gold.

After each performance, students received master class workshops by professional conductors from U.B.C. and the University of Oregon.

“We’re all putting the pointers and lessons we learned in the workshops back into our music to lead us into our year end concerts. The difference in playing is always astounding after being immersed in so much music for four days,” said Kowalchuk.

The festival culminates in a “massed band” performance where all players perform two pieces together. This year’s band had 1,314 musicians.

The Phoenix bands will be performing their final concert at the Tidemark Theatre on May 28 at 7:30 p.m.  You can also see the Sport Band perform during the Rotary Honours Concert tonight at the Tidemark Theatre.

Kowalchuk has been the music director at Phoenix for two years since moving back to Campbell River from Montréal where he finished his degrees at McGill University and taught at Lindsay Place High School. He also leads the Campbell River Community Band, which will be performing on May 24 at 2 p.m. in the Carihi Multipurpose room.