The 47th MusicFest Canada Nationals in Ottawa were a marvelous victory for Branksome’s Grade 8 and Grade 9/10 Bands, who both won gold!
Students have been eagerly learning repertoire during class and at extra rehearsals in advance of the competition. “They have worked tremendously hard all year, individually and in rehearsals, and the gold standing is a result of that hard work,” said Scott Harbin, Senior and Middle School Music Coordinator and Band teacher.
The Grade 8 Band represented the school at the competition first and played beautifully on the Babs Asper Theatre stage at the National Arts Centre. “The excitement was palpable!” said Mr. Harbin. “They played three pieces wonderfully: our Canadian choice “Crusade” by Vince Gassi, the lyrical piece “Of Gentle Spirit” by William Owens and the exciting “Tornado!” by Brad Ciechomski.”
“It was a stunning performance,” said Karen Jurjevich, Principal. “The conducting and student performance, with all of its seriousness, discipline and raw talent transformed into exceptional performances, were truly a first for instrumental achievement in my 21 years at the school.”
After their performance, the Grade 8 Band had the opportunity to attend a clinic with Terry Porter, an Ottawa-based clarinetist and conductor who has played with several orchestras across Canada. “Mr. Porter worked with us on finer details such as dynamics, phrasing, articulations and breath support,” said Mr. Harbin.
The band then spent the day exploring the nation's capital, visiting the Byward Market, Parliament Hill and the Canadian Tulip Festival at Commissioners Park.
In the evening, the Grade 9/10 Band took to the stage and performed three pieces: the challenging “Prelude and Pursuit” by Michael Sweeney, Canadian selection “Chasing Sunlight” by Toronto-based composer Cait Nishimura and the dramatic “Moscow, 1941” by Brian Balmages.
The Grade 9/10 Band then worked with their adjudicator, Lieutenant-Colonel Frances Chilton-Mackay, a retired music teacher and Director of Music with the Governor General’s Foot Guards Band in Ottawa. “Lt. Col. Chilton-Mackay was highly complimentary of the group and worked on details such as phrasing, balance, musicality and articulation,” said Mr. Harbin.
All of the clinicians and adjudicators who commented on the performances commended the students for their focus and discipline during the performances and clinics.
“I was so proud of both groups and am grateful to have had this opportunity for our students,” said Mr. Harbin. “I’ve witnessed the program grow each year and it’s so exciting to see such a high level of student engagement now.”
Bravo to all of the students who participated in this fantastic opportunity and who played so wonderfully!