For their first engagement of 2014, the Canadian Staff Band (Bandmaster John Lam) joined with the Winds of the Scarborough Philharmonic Orchestra (Musical Director Ronald Royer) on Saturday, 1 February 2014, for Canadian Portraits, a concert celebrating Canada and featuring the music of Canadian icon Howard Cable. Hosted by the Orchestra, the event was a part of their 2013 – 2014 concert series.
The Staff Band was featured during the first half of the program. Offerings from the band included Morley Calvert’s well-known Canadian Folk Song Suite, with three movements showcasing folk songs from Quebec and Newfoundland. Other items included Covenant (Bruce Broughton) and the classic festival march The Canadian (James Merritt). Soloists Jonathan Rowsell and Scott Gross combined for the duet Tuba Tandem (Robert Redhead).
At 93, Howard Cable remains a significant force in Canadian music, with a remarkable career spanning more the 60 years. As a conductor and composer, he has received numerous awards and accolades for his lifetime of work. He compositions remain a staple in the repertoire of wind bands and orchestra throughout Canada and around the world.
As guest conductor for the evening, Cable led both both groups individually as well as the massed ensembles in several of his compositions. He conducted the Staff Band in two movements from Good Medicine – A Charlie Russell Suite. The movements, “The Tie Rope” and “A Bronc to Breakfast”, are based on paintings by the legendary artist depicting scenes from the Old American West. The first featured the Staff Band’s new flügelhorn soloist, Doug Chaulk.
Following intermission, the second half of the program featured the Winds of the SPO in a new work by Vince Grassi, Genesis, conducted by André Dubelsten. This was followed by three works by Howard Cable, conducted by the composer: Ontario Pictures, Standoff and Crow’s Nest. Throughout the evening, Cable shared stories about the inspiration behind each of the compositions as they were introduced, much to the delight of the audience.
To conclude the program, the Staff Band and the Winds joined forces to present two major works by Howard Cable. McIntyre Ranch Country is a medley of cowboy songs from the Old West written by request for the McIntyre Ranch in southern Alberta. The second item, Scottish Rhapsody, is a tour-de-force of melodies associated with Scottish poet Robert Burns.