Melodies and memories will flow when former Red Deer College music instructors and students reunite at The Vat pub this month.
On Aug. 11 and 12, about 50 RDC music grads from across Canada and the U.S. will be celebrating their third reunion weekend in Red Deer since 2015.
While the music program was cancelled by the college in 2018, happy recollections of past recitals, rehearsals and relationships live on among former students and faculty.
“Many of the best, solid, integral friendships I’ve ever known” were made during these Red Deer College days, said 1990 grad and event organizer Jackie Reynolds.
Having enrolled as a “mousy” classical piano student from Alix, she became exposed to a world of colourful musical genres — including rock and jazz and the blues. “It certainly broadened my musical talents,” recalled Reynolds. She learned to get over stage fright and better hone her ear.
In the decades since leaving RDC (now Red Deer Polytechnic), she held various jobs, but music was always her mainstay, whether she was teaching piano, singing in a Celtic band in Kelowna —where she now lives — or joining a Sweet Adelines chorus.
“Something about music, it goes to people’s heart and soul,” said Reynolds, who knows her former classmates feel the same. Whenever these “kindred spirits” get together, she added, “the years fall away…”
Attendees at the reunion will perform music for each other at The Vat on Friday and Saturday nights —much as they did when noon-hour concerts were part of their post-secondary program. Groups will get together for lunch or dinner, and make their usual trip to see the statue of their late instructor Keith Mann in Red Deer City Hall Park for a group picture.
Reynolds feels Red Deer College had some of the best music faculty and facilities in Canada, so she feels it’s even sadder that the program was cancelled.
The music department has yielded a lot of amazing talent over the years — notably singers k.d. lang and Tim Tamashiro, but also many others who are performing or teaching music.
Former RDC music instructor Duke Thompson said he looks forward to attending these reunions every four years. He’s travelling back to Central Alberta from his current home in Maryland to perform a duet with fellow pianist Trish Evans — Flight of the Bumble Bee by Rimsky-Korsakov.
Other attendees will perform selections across all genres, from Pink Floyd to Oscar Peterson. “And there’s bound to be a lot of jazz,” Thompson added.
Anyone can drop by The Vat to hear these performances. (If other RDC music alumni want more information about the reunion, they can email Reynolds at email@example.com)