Members of Lindsay Thurber’s Symphonic Band and Advanced Contemporary Ensemble recently got to experience an invitation-only national festival, and brought home a couple of awards.
More than 8,000 participants from across Canada attended MusicFest Canada The Nationals where the Symphonic Band earned gold, and the Advanced Contemporary Ensemble (ACE Choir) received silver.
Band teacher Jennifer Mann and music teacher Andrew Snyder said the experience was one to remember.
“Coming out of a period of no travel, coming out of a period of no live performances – to be able to go places and sing and learn – we don’t take it for granted,” said Synder, adding the group not only experienced MusicFest, but did some sightseeing in the area as well.
“We were in the location of the War of 1812. It is a very historical area of Canada, and to be able to expose our students to that was really special.”
Red Deer students were also able to take in performances from other bands and choirs.
“We reserved time for our students to hear other groups. We created a listening guide for our students, and once they had the chance to listen to other groups, we asked them questions and to reflect on what they heard. The depth of thought in students’ responses was amazing,” Mann said.
Both the band and choir had a workshop with one of the adjudicators.
“It’s great for Jen and myself too because it’s professional development for us. We get to hear from the adjudicators and get feedback. It’s really helpful and as we prepare for the next year – we can take what we’ve heard and apply it,” Synder said.
Mann received the Keith Mann Outstanding Band Director’s Award at the Festival. The award is extra special as Keith was Jennifer’s father-in-law.
The award was named in honour of Keith who was a beloved music educator, and MusicFest Canada’s former secretary and treasurer, as well as chair of the Orchestra and Concert Band Division. Keith was a tireless music advocate who inspired many of his students to consider careers in the music industry.
“Keith was instrumental in putting together MusicFest. It’s really special to be able to honour his legacy and to continue doing what he did,” Mann said.
Snyder said the MusicFest experience was one to remember.
“We are creating a memory for these students. You are cementing a high school moment that is going to last for years to come,” Synder said.
Mann said the trip was extra special following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My Grade 12s were on their way back from their Grade 9 band trip when the shutdown happened. It was really special to take this trip with that group because we can celebrate coming out of the upheaval we’ve shared over the past four years,” Mann said.