Red Deer College Symphonic Winds to honour Women of the Baton

“Women of the baton” are being honoured at the first Red Deer College Symphonic Winds concert of the season. There was a time, in the bad, old days, when women didn’t get much of a shake at band leading, except at the elementary school level.

“Women of the baton” are being honoured at the first Red Deer College Symphonic Winds concert of the season.

There was a time, in the bad, old days, when women didn’t get much of a shake at band leading, except at the elementary school level.

Now bands of all kinds are being led by females, as well as males.

“I would say it’s at least a 50 per cent split,” said Steve Sherman, director of the Symphonic Winds, who wanted to recognize the growing contribution of women conductors at a special concert next week.

Sherman won’t be standing at the podium on Thursday at the RDC Arts Centre, even though he took his 55-member college and community band through the whole rehearsal process.

Instead, seven Red Deer-area female band leaders will lead the Symphonic Winds through a varied program.

When Sherman put out a call for women conductors to step forward and participate in the concert, the following responded: Jennifer Mann, leader of the Lindsay Thurber Comprehensive High School band; Annette Bradley of the Koinonia School band; Diana Bushell, who leads the St. Marguerite Bourgeoys School band in Innisfail; Kerry Heisler of the H. J. Cody School band in Sylvan Lake; Lil Traquair ,who leads elementary school bands for Red Deer Catholic district; Laurie Shapka Thiel, West Park School’s band director; and Val Sherman, who conducts the band at École La Prairie in Red Deer. (The latter is Steve’s wife).

Sherman is very pleased to honour the contributions and talents of these seven women.

“I feel a lot of times that people who are in the trenches, people who spend years and years nurturing students, don’t get recognized enough,” added the RDC music instructor, who has led the Symphonic Winds for the last dozen years. Last year, Sherman held a special concert spotlighting retired Central Alberta band directors.

The program for the Women of the Baton concert will encompass diverse music, including October by Eric Whitacre, English Folk Song Suite, by Ralph Vaughn Williams, Variations on a Korean Folk Song by James Barnes, and an arrangement of the traditional Home on the Range by John Barnes Chance.

Sherman believes there will be tunes to please most every ear.

Tickets for the 7:30 p.m. concert are $19.25 ($16.25 students/seniors) from the Black Knight Ticket Centre.

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