The Strathcona Big Band hosts a jazz coffee house Monday evening in support of the Carihi and Timberline jazz bands.

Strathcona Big Band concert to benefit aspiring musicians

The Strathcona Big Band is hosting a jazz coffee house in the multi-purpose room at Carihi Secondary School this Monday evening. The concert is in support of the jazz and concert band programs at both Timberline and Carihi and will feature performances by four different bands; two Timberline jazz groups, one from Carihi and the Strathcona Big Band.

Carihi teacher and Strathcona Big Band leader, Phil Cassidy, remembers as a high school band student himself the impact of seeing adult groups such as the RCMP Band and the Royal Canadian Navy’s Stadacona bands performing at his small town Nova Scotia high school.

“Here were adults having a great time playing their instruments and playing them very well,” he says.

Fast forward 30 plus years and the opportunity to provide a similar experience for local students with local musicians is too good to pass up. Better yet, this event will be hands on for the students who will share the stage performing their own sets as part of the program.

“I think the goal of every music teacher is to foster a love of music and performing that carries on well after high school,” Cassidy says. Of the 20 members of the Big Band, all but four are graduates of Campbell River programs belonging to grad classes from 1979 to 2016. Three members of the big band, Dave Johnson, Kolya Kowalchuk and Phil Cassidy are also band teachers in town.

Organizers are hoping to establish an annual event that will transition between Carihi and Timberline every other year. A suggested donated admission of $5 per person at the door will go towards trips for the students or to assist with the cost of summer band camps for students who want to further their musical experience in the summer at either the Timberline Summer band program run by Dave and Terry Johnson, or the CYMC program based in Courtenay.

“The last time the Strathcona Big Band played in Campbell River at the Royal Coachman Pub there was a line up to get in, something the pub hadn’t seen in over 20 years, so the entertainment factor is guaranteed,” says Cassidy who is anticipating a large turn out of local big band fans. Refreshments will be for sale and doors open at 6:45 p.m. with music kicking off at 7 p.m.