Blog

Disney Descendants

Hi Folks!

I’ve received some information regarding the production that Christian had announced at our last gig:

Christian and his brother are both involved in a production of Disney Descendants. It’s a professional production (comparable to Rainbow Stage). There’s a four-show run at Jubilee Place (Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute – 173 Talbot Ave). The run time is 1h45m plus intermission.

A purple brick wall with yellow and green text

Description automatically generated

Showtimes are:

  • November 23 – 7:00 pm
  • November 24 – 7:00 pm
  • November 25 – 3:00 pm
  • November 25 – 7:00 pm

Ticket prices:

  • Adults – $25
  • Children (12 & under) – $15
  • There is an additional $2 processing fee for credit card ticket purchases. This fee is waived if tickets are purchased for cash from Christian’s family. 

About Disney’s Descendants: The Musical

Based on the popular Disney Channel Original Movies, Disney’s Descendants: The Musical is a brand-new musical jam-packed with comedy, adventure, Disney characters, and hit songs from the films!

Imprisoned on the Isle of the Lost – home of the most infamous villains who ever lived – the teenaged children of Maleficent, the Evil Queen, Jafar, and Cruella De Vil have never ventured off the island… until now. When the four troublemakers are sent to attend prep school alongside the children of beloved Disney heroes, they have a difficult choice to make: should they follow in their parents’ wicked footsteps or learn to be good?

Masks are strongly recommended for all audience members for all performances.

While we all know and love Christian (who has firmly achieved rock star status after our last gig!), what you may not know is that Christian’s mother and brother are both ardent supporters of the band. They come out to most of our gigs, but they also talk us up whenever they get the chance, field audience questions about us, and they help out with the heavy lifting when it comes to set up, tear down, unloading, and loading. They’re our own volunteer roadie and PR crew!

If you’d like to support one of our own by attending a show, please reach out to info@mbmillenniumband.com. Let us know which show you’re hoping to attend, as well as the best way to reach you. We’ll connect you with Christian’s family so that you can work out the details of your ticket purchase.

2023 Season – Final Thoughts

As I type this, my heart is filled with gratitude for a wonderful season. Thank you for making it such a success.

Our final performance of the year may have been our best ever as a band, in spite of some last minute absences. You all showed up heroes: focused, locked in, and givin’ ‘er.

I am so proud! Each and every one of you did amazing things and deserves to be recognised for your contribution.

Special mention goes to Christian, who anchored us with his exceptional work on percussion. He was able to step in and cover all the critical parts and navigated many quick instrument changes. A lot of this was handled on the fly, making it even more impressive. Hats off, big ups, massive props, huzzah!

Folks, so much good stuff this summer to be happy about!

A couple of housekeeping issues as we close the book on the 2023 season:

  • The Eastman Community Band (Pinawa) has a used Armstrong 310 Piccolo for sale. Asking price: $800. If interested, please contact sheppards@ecomatters.com. (Please feel free to share this far and wide – they really want to see this piccolo go to a good home).
  • Christian announced at our gig that he’s involved in a musical with performances in early November (if memory serves) at Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute (Jubilee Place). Keep your eyes open for details on this – it would be lovely to support him in this venture. (I’ll post an update with further details when I have them, so you may hear more from Millennium about this).
  • If you still have a Millennium Band binder (and will not be seeing Jeff – our librarian – or I at Northwinds to return it), please reach out to info@mbmillenniumband.com so we can make arrangements to get the binders back. Jeff goes to a lot of trouble to ensure that the binders are in order and ready to go before the season starts.

I also want to say some special thank yous to the Committee members:

  • Dave – our treasurer and one of our percussion masters. Dave is one of the original founders of the Millennium Band and has been the Treasurer certainly as long as I’ve known of the band. In addition, he commits a lot of time doing the literal heavy lifting in the form of carting all the percussion equipment back and forth every time we gather to play. While he has the assembly, disassembly, and tetrising of his car down to an efficient machine, it still takes a lot of time and energy. Then he anchors the band in the percussion section and often plays several parts simultaneously. We are so lucky to have his dedication and commitment to this group. He probably hates that I’m doing this, but it’s important that the band knows how much effort he puts in out of the limelight.
  • Bruce – our secretary, booking agent, and mainstay of the alto and soprano sax section. Bruce does an amazing job of ensuring we have places to perform every summer, and ensuring we get an honorarium which helps keep the band afloat. He also ensures that the committee shakes the dust off and starts the season planning in plenty of time to ensure we have rehearsal spaces booked, and that we’re revved up and enthusiastic about gearing up. His contribution is integral to the smooth functioning of the committee.
  • Christina – our member at large and clarinetist extraordinaire. Christina’s role on the committee is to be a voice for the band members. With her enormous network of connections (owing to her many years of playing in the community, having been a member of most bands in the city – many simultaneously!), breadth of experience, and intimate knowledge of how many bands operate, Christina’s wisdom is invaluable.
  • Jeff – our librarian and trombonist. Jeff organises all the binders. Every spring (usually early in March), I send him a list of all the pieces I have hopes of working on. He makes the binders happen – the pieces not on “the list” disappear, the pieces show up all nice in plastic sleeves so our outdoor concerts don’t render them illegible, he ensures binders are signed out, and he enforces their return. (So far, the threat of Jeff seems to have been enough to get back our stray binders). This is a LOT of work – mostly unseen. In addition, Jeff will sort out music as required through the summer.

Thank you to the committee members who work behind the scenes to ensure that the season goes off without a hitch. Your proactive approach always ensures that when the season starts, the parts are in place and we can just roll along. It makes it so easy for me to focus on the musical direction when everything else is just taken care of. I cannot overstate the depth of my gratitude – there just aren’t words. I am confident that the whole band shares my gratitude for your efforts. (I’m sorry I didn’t think to acknowledge you at our last rehearsal – I should have done that).

Folks, you are my solace. This band is special. The culture of supportiveness renews me. Everyone pitches in as they are able. It seems I only have to announce that something needs doing and it gets done by the fairies. The joy you bring, the efforts you put forth, watching you develop as musicians… it nourishes my soul. This band is everything a community band should be, and that’s because it’s what you make it.

My experience as director has been life-changing. When I started conducting this ensemble in 2013, I’d had very limited experience as a conductor. You were all patient with me and allowed me space to learn and grow. You’ve supported me as I’ve developed over the years and you’ve helped me gain confidence. You have pushed me to improve myself. Thank you for helping me.

What we do matters. Our performances at seniors residences brings so much joy and feeds their souls. As the band spokesperson at concerts, I tend to be the one to get mobbed post-performance (though I know I’m far from the only one). The common thread from these encounters is that we connected and touched something in them – often a song that resonated and evoked a specific memory. That’s not something we should take lightly.

It has been such an honour to stand before you every week this summer. I look forward to what we can do next season!

Take care of yourselves,

Elizabeth.

August 31 – Important Reminders

Hi Folks!

We have a couple of people unavailable for our performance due to illness. At this point, there are no changes to the plan, but I wanted to remind everyone as follows:

  • If you are unwell, please stay home. We are going to perform for a vulnerable population.
  • If you are unable to make the gig or even if there is any doubt, please email us at info@mbmillenniumband.com to let us know as soon as possible so we can make adjustments (cueing key parts, ascertaining whether we have enough instruments to proceed).
  • Please check your email and the www.mbmillenniumband.com home page before you leave for the concert! We will do our best to provide as much advance notice as possible if we have to cancel, but it may be last-minute. (We are really hoping this will not happen). News will be posted on the landing page of our website as well as a blog post.
  • Please be prepared for changes to our repertoire list on the fly. I hope this won’t be necessary, and will be doing everything in my power to avoid it, but it may prove unavoidable.

Thanks for your patience, and I hope to see most of you on Thursday at 6:30 pm at Concorida Village!

Sincerely,

Elizabeth.

Final Concert – August 31

Hi folks!

This is it – we’re down to the end of our season. Our final event is a concert at Concordia Village.

Concordia Village Performance

Date: Thursday, August 31

Where: Concordia Village Center, 1125 Molson Street just North of Concordia. (Map included below). Enter through the Village Centre doors.

Call Time: Arrive at 6:30 pm

Perform: 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Wear: Forest green Millennium t-shirt OR Forest green short-sleeved shirt OR black shirt. Definitely wear bottoms – clean and unripped.

COVID-19 Precautions: If you are not feeling well, please stay home. All band members are asked to wear a mask when inside the Village, prior to and after the performance.

Remember to bring your stand and music!

Programme:

  • Scales: Eb & Bb
  • 75 – Fanfare for the Unsung Hero
  • 74 – Final Countdown
  • 66 – Arctic Fire
  • 22 – The Stripper
  • 73 – Adagio Cantabile
  • 44 – Glee
  • 65 – Moana
  • 57 – Wade in the Water
  • 69 – City of Dreams (all movements)

We will be collecting all the binders after the performance. Please put all music back in numerical order before turning in your binder!

Let’s have some fun!

For those unable to attend, please reach out to info@mbmillenniumband.com if you still have a binder. Our repertoire changes every year and if we don’t get the binder back, it won’t be up to date next season.

I hope to see you on Thursday!

Sincerely,

Elizabeth.

Dress Rehearsal – August 24

Hi Folks!

I hope your week is going well! Again, apologies for the delay in getting this to you.

I find myself approaching this week with a feeling of bittersweet. It’s our penultimate week together, and our final rehearsal of the season. While I have found this to be a more stressful summer than previous seasons (more related to personal matters), I’ve also found our time together to be immensely rewarding. I hope you can see that I am very passionate about this band, and I feel that we accomplish great things together! It nourishes me in ways I can’t even express. I am more deeply honoured than I can express to share music with you.

So, here’s how our programme has shaped up, with many thanks for your input!

  • 75 – Fanfare for the Unsung Hero
  • 74 – Final Countdown
  • 66 – Arctic Fire
  • 22 – The Stripper
  • 73 – Adagio Cantabile
  • 44 – Glee
  • 65 – Moana
  • 57 – Wade in the Water
  • 69 – City of Dreams (all movements)

I look forward to seeing you on Thursday!

Sincerely,

Elizabeth.

Rehearsal Plan – August 17

With sincere apologies for the delay, here’s the list of pieces that our rehearsal this week will be drawn from:

  • 22 – The Stripper
  • 44 – Glee Showstoppers
  • 49 – American Patrol
  • 60 – Dragonheart
  • 65 – Moana
  • 57 – Wade in the Water
  • 63 – Hallelujah
  • 66 – Arctic Fire
  • 69 – City of Dreams
  • 73 – Adagio Cantabile (Beethoven – Pathetique)
  • 74 – Final Countdown
  • 75 – Fanfare for the Unsung Hero

See you on Thursday!

Elizabeth.

Thoughts on Repertoire

Several weeks ago, one of our percussionists asked a very insightful question in rehearsal. While I babbled on for a spell in response, it’s a question that I think deserves a more detailed treatment, so I thought I’d do my best to pull back the curtain on the matter here, since we don’t have rehearsal this week. 

The question was: Why this repertoire? How do you decide what pieces we should play?

The answer is complex. There are a number of factors that go into the choice, and they’re not weighted equally. In fact, the weight given to each factor changes from year to year, and there is absolutely a generous pinch of crystal-ball-gazing incorporated! 

As far as choosing from our existing repertoire, I try to take a mixture of levels – we need to have several pieces that the band can pull together quickly as we don’t have a lot of rehearsal time. On the other hand, we do need to have some mid-level pieces that are a bit of a challenge, owing to the fact that we have musicians of all levels. I also make sure to include the two new pieces from the preceding year – this allows us to really absorb them, and they should be familiar to most of our members. I try to not repeat the same pieces too many times in a row if I can. And I look at the new pieces I plan to bring in and see what will balance them in a programme. (For example, if we don’t have new music that’s accessible to a younger audience, I’d bring in Disney Spectacular or Moana. If we have more art music, I’ll reach for some of the pop medleys. If we have more emotive, slower music, I’ll look for rousing numbers, etc). And my best laid plans need back up plans, and those also need back up plans! Flexibility is our game! 

When I’m considering new pieces to bring in, I’m looking at (in no particular order):

1-  The Level. Historically, I’ve tried to bring in one piece that we can master pretty easily, and a second “challenge” piece that I think will likely take some work to pull together. It’s not a good idea to bring too many pieces that are too hard – that can be demoralising – but I do think we should be pushing ourselves. It’s a delicate balance, and where my crystal ball comes in (since I never really know how our membership will shake out until we really get going in June, but the music list is finalised in March so the binders are ready in time).  

2 – Canadian Content. I’m always looking for a way to tie the music we play to the local level. Canadian composers, inspiration from Canada, or any tenuous link will do! I’ll claim it! 

(At the moment, I cannot seem to escape Robert Buckley. I’m actively trying to avoid any more of his pieces for a bit just so we don’t have to rename ourselves “The Robert Buckley Tribute Band.” But it’s hard because his stuff is SO GOOD! And he’s prolific! And he’s done what I think is an amazing collaboration with an Indigenous musician on a couple of pieces that tie into the next item, which would make them PERFECT options, but… “The Robert Buckley Tribute Band” is something I’ll have to start up in my spare time, alas).

 3 – Diverse composers/influences. A LOT of our repertoire falls under the category of “Western Art Music.” Historically, this has excluded a lot of talented people: women, people of colour, indigenous people. Furthermore, there is absolutely a history of co-opting “exotic” sounds and bringing them into the Western Art tradition (i.e. stealing and mimicking). I think it’s really important to try to showcase different perspectives. I admit that I’m not always very successful in this element, but it’s always something I have in mind. (I’m also always on the lookout for folk music that is not Western European-centric). 

4 – Crowd pleasers. This is a broad one. Our audiences have their own likes and biases when it comes to what they like to hear. The music we listen to in our teens tends to be music that resonates with us most strongly all our lives. (It has to do with the psychological and emotional processes that take place during this age range. There are scientific studies on it. I’m not even kidding). So, it’s important to consider who our audience is and what type of music is most likely to resonate strongly. But it’s also important to recognise that we sometimes have children in our audience – so we have to have music that appeals to at least three generations. 

5 – Quality of the music. Quality is an objective measurement. Taste is not. No matter what other criteria I consider, the quality of the arrangement is really important. I’m looking for pieces that will stand the test of time. Our band doesn’t have an unlimited bank account, and I’m very conscientious of getting good value for your dollar. While I think it’s important that we have current music, I also want to steer away from “novelty” pieces that are not going to be playable in a few years *cough*Macarana*cough.* (Moana encapsulates this well – the source material is objectively good. The music is well-written. The arrangement is well-written. I believe it’s going to be a classic – akin to The Little Mermaid. And even if we lose track of the source, the arrangement stands on its own merit. We’ll be able to get a lot of mileage out of it for a long time to come). 

6 – Something Different. We have a number of members who have been part of the community band scene for a long time. These folks have seen a lot. I try to find something that they have never seen before. (This could be a very recently published score, an international composer/publisher, or just something a bit obscure). I feel that learning something together makes us a stronger team. It’s also something to get a little excited about. I mean, our band managed a Canadian premiere in 2019. How cool is that!!  

7 – Skill Improvement. I’m not gonna lie. Sometimes, I choose a piece because it highlights an area we can improve on, and this allows us to really focus our attention on that element. For example, a number of years ago, we played Bolero. That piece is one long, inexorable, steady crescendo at an even pace. (And there are mini-crescendos and decrescendos inside the overarching crescendo – it’s very meta). We had been having trouble with our dynamic control. Well, we worked on that. We’re much better at it now. Blame Ravel (and Jay Bocook).

8 – Cultural Relevance. If there’s a Big Thing happening, I might choose a piece to tie into that item. For instance, playing The Olympic Spirit during an Olympic year, Beethoven’s 250th birthday, etc. I tend to miss these things, but when I do stick my head out enough to be aware of them and I’m able to meet some of the other criteria as well, I’ll definitely link to those events – and I’m not above making it tenuous! (See: the Olympics in Brazil – we had a piece that had Brazilian in the title. I made it work. Sort of).

So, as you can see, this is a complicated topic, with a lot of nuances to take into consideration. 

And I don’t really ever stop looking at music. I’m already considering what I think we should look to invest in for next season. My latest idea: we need to bring in some fresh, less complex pieces. As much as The Blue Orchid Tango, Wade in the Water, The Rowan Tree, and The Stripper are fantastic arrangements, I’d like to bring in some variety, so I’ll likely be putting a pause on a new challenge piece for next season. 

As of this writing, I have settled on one piece that fits the following criteria: Level isn’t too challenging, it’s a crowd pleaser (released in 1969), it’s recognisable to all Red Sox fans, it’s not “art music,” and the original composer is Jewish. It’s also a solid arrangement. (I don’t think the ending is great, but it’s not the as-written ending of Dragonheart, so there’s that). I’m not sure whether it’s still in print (I’ve been burnt before that way), so I’m not going to get everyone’s hopes up with a reveal today, but this gives you an idea of what I consider when looking at new music. 

Ideally, the second new piece will be something relevant to Canada, still at an easier level, possibly something more on the art music or folk music side, hopefully new to all of us, and ideally by a diverse composer/arranger, but still not too difficult. That may change. What usually happens is that I have my idea of what I’m looking for, but when I hear something, I’ll just know it’s the right fit with our existing repertoire, even if it doesn’t tick the intended boxes.

So, that’s the curtain pulled back on the way I approach repertoire selection for Millennium.

I’m always happy to answer any questions you may have. 

Please remember, there’s no rehearsal tonight, but we are back next week! If you missed it, here’s the link to the post which includes our repertoire list for next rehearsal!

Have a fantastic week!

Sincerely,

Elizabeth.

Next Rehearsal – August 10

Hi folks!

Apologies for the delay in getting this sent out.

THERE IS NO REHEARSAL TONIGHT. Please do not come to Bourkevale – there will be no one to let you in and no one to make music with. It will be sad.

Also, there is no rehearsal next week.

We will reconvene on Thursday, August 10.

Our August 10 rehearsal will be drawn from:

  • 22 – The Stripper
  • 44 – Glee Showstoppers
  • 49 – American Patrol
  • 60 – Dragonheart
  • 65 – Moana
  • 57 – Wade in the Water
  • 66 – Arctic Fire
  • 69 – City of Dreams
  • 73 – Adagio Cantabile (Beethoven – Pathetique)
  • 74 – Final Countdown
  • 75 – Fanfare for the Unsung Hero

Our gig at Lindenwoods went really well! We have a lot to be very happy about! I received several compliments on our playing and on our repertoire choices. I plan to share more details in our next rehearsal, but we were very kindly received and it was a great end to the first chunk of our season!

I hope you’re all enjoying our little pause!

See you in three weeks!

Sincerely,

Elizabeth.

July 20 – CONCERT INFO

Well, the hour is upon us! Our first performance of the season is next week – July 20! Here are the all the juicy details:

When: July 20 – 6:30 pm Call Time (Scales at 6:55 pm, Baton drops at 7:00 pm)

Where: Lindenwoods Terrace, 490 Lindenwood Drive East

Dress: Forest Green Millennium Shirts OR Forest Green Shirts OR Black Shirts. Definitely wear bottoms – of the clean and neat variety. 

Bring: Stands, stand lights, clothes pins/clips/plexiglass/any other thing that will keep your music from blowing away unceremoniously, water, hat, bug spray… (At this hour, we probably don’t need sunscreen), music. (This is the room with all the posts if the weather is bad or where we play under the pergola if the weather is fine, so we’ll need to be prepared for either scenario. We don’t usually get vote in where we’re playing).

MASKS: Please wear your mask at all times when you are not playing (or seated in playing formation). 

This is an exciting gig for us. We were invited to return both last year (when we weren’t even rehearsing!) and this year! They like us! They really like us! So let’s go out and have a really fun time with them!

We will be playing, in order:

Eb Bb Scales (in Canon)

  • 75 – fanfare for the unsung hero
  • 44- Glee Showstoppers
  • 73 – Beethoven
  • 74 – Final Countdown
  • 60 – Dragonheart
  • 65 – Moana
  • 66 – Arctic Fire
  • *27 – Rowan tree
  • *57 – Wade in the Water
  • 63 – Hallelujah
  • 69 – City of Dreams – Mvt 3 – Riding that Rainbow

* May be cut in performance for time

Our next rehearsal after the performance next week is not until August 10 at Bourkevale. Please mark your calendars!

See you next week!

Sincerely,

Elizabeth.

Dress Rehearsal – July 13

With apologies for the delay in getting this sent out to you.

Here is the set list (in order) for our dress rehearsal this week:

  • 75 – fanfare for the unsung hero
  • 44- Glee Showstoppers
  • 73 – Beethoven
  • 74 – final Countdown
  • 60 – dragonheart
  • 65 – Moana
  • 66 – Arctic fire
  • *27 – Rowan tree
  • *57 – wade in the water
  • 63 – hallelujah
  • 69 – mvt 3 – city of Dreams

*May be cut if time requires.

Please, if you know you will be unable to attend the concert on July 20, ESPECIALLY if you are in a section of one or two people, let me know so that I can write cues or arrange coverage. (Our email address is info@mbmillenniumband.com).

The music library will be at the concert.

If you feel unwell, please do not come to the concert.

Please wear a mask to the concert at all times when you are not seated or playing.

I hope you’re all having a great week, and that we’ll see you on Thursday!

Sincerely,

Elizabeth.