From an epic Broadway musical to a quiet folk song, knowing the story behind the music adds valuable emotional content to a performance and, in many ways, makes us feel more connected to a performance.
It’s not surprising then, that the subject of the Markham Concert Band’s performance this month at the Flato Markham Theatre is stories and storytelling itself. Myths and Fables and Really Tall Tales will hit the stage for an afternoon concert on May 2 at 2pm.
“Our performances always feature a great mix of music, from marches to Broadway hits,” says band member and President Heather Wardell. “MCB believes attending a live performance should be a great fun experience, so there are always a lot of laughs about, between, and sometimes during musical numbers.”
For the May performance, the band will highlight music relating to popular stories and tales from the pop culture of the last century. Casey at the Bat, and Edgar Allen Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart will be featured along with a spooky piece called House of Horrors. Never wanting to be too serious, the band has even prepared a suite of music from the popular cartoon, The Rocky and Bullwinkle show.
The show will be hosted and narrated by Rob Miller, who is one of Canada’s leading euphonium soloists and an instructor at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music. Rob has been onstage with the MCB before, but this time he’ll be sharing his thoughts and knowledge with the audience as well as his musical skills.
“Rob has performed with us in the past and was a great hit!” adds Wardell. “In addition to his MC duties he’ll be taking on the most challenging euphonium solo in world.”
The afternoon concert will also feature two other very special highlights. The first is an original composition from MCB member Kristie Hunter entitled From Darkness. The band has now started something of a tradition when it comes to performing the original music of its members. Hunter along with bandmates Vern Kennedy and Sean Breen all have added pieces to the group’s repertoire.
The other highlight will be the performance of award winning guest vocalist Patricia Meredith. She’ll be singing a few pieces including Irish folksongs and even the Broadway classic I Dreamed a Dream from Les Miserables.
“She has an amazing voice and I know the audience will love her as much as the band does,” beams Wardell.
The Markham Concert Band has an interesting story of its own. The band has been a fixture of Markham’s local culture since its founding in 1978. On the eve of its fortieth season in 2017-18, now one of the largest bands in Canada, the MCB has 65 players aged from 17 to over 80. The band still features three original members from nearly forty years ago.
“We come from a variety of backgrounds,” says Wardell, “from music teachers to people who played twenty years ago and have only recently picked up their instruments again, but we all care about making our performances the best they can possibly be.”
In addition to being a premier outlet for lifelong performing musicians in Markham, the band performs for the community about a dozen times a year, four times at the Flato Markham Theatre and at many outdoor festivals throughout the warmer months. There are many special things planned for next season’s anniversary, including a free anniversary concert in October. But right now, the focus is on the May performance.
“Expect an afternoon of wonderful music and laughter,” promises Wardell.