The Canadian Staff Band (Bandmaster John Lam) joined forces with the University of Notre Dame Concert Band in a unique concert held on 11 May 2009 at St. Patrick Catholic Secondary School in Toronto. The Notre Dame Concert Band, the oldest college band in the US (founded 1846), was completing a week-long tour of southern Ontario.
The format for the concert consisted of individual items by both bands, with two massed items at the end. The Staff Band’s contribution included two items by Paul Lovatt-Cooper, Where Eagles Sing and Vitae Aeternum. Also featured were Dean Goffin’s classic Symphony of Thanksgiving and Concertante by Stephen Bulla. Soloists included Steve Pavey playing Welsh Fantasy for Euphonium and Band (Ralph Pearce) and Ron Heintzman playing James Curnow’s Concertpiece for Cornet.
The Notre Dame concert band consists of about 50 players, and exhibited good balance and intonation, obviously benefiting from the expert leadership of their music director, Dr. Kenneth Dye. Their items included Fanfare and Flourishes (James Curnow), Trieste Overture (Deiro), Amparito Roca and Alfred Reed’s Alleluia! Laudamus Te.
The band also has many fine soloists, one highlight of the concert being Just a Closer Walk with Thee, in traditional New Orleans style. For this item, a quintet (two trumpets, two trombones and an alto saxophone) were featured. The lead trumpet player was strongly reminiscent of the virtuoso jazz player Stan Mark, former lead trumpet in the band of performer Maynard Ferguson.
The associate conductor of the Notre Dame band, Larry Dwyer, was the compère for the program, giving useful insight into many of the items presented. He also conducted Benny Goodman in Concert. Another well-received item was 76 Trombones, from Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man”, with the trombone sections from both groups joining together.
The two bands combined for A Little Prayer (Evelyn Glennie, arr. Bob Childs), conducted by Bandmaster Lam. Then Dr. Dye steered the massed bands through William Himes’ tougue-in-cheek item, The Stars and Leafs Forever, based on Sousa’s famous march.
Following a standing ovation, the Notre Dame band invited Bandmaster Lam to end the evening by conducting them in their famous football song, The Fighting Irish.
As Dr. Dye mentioned in his remarks, the evening confirmed to all how music transcends all borders and cultures.
Canadian Staff Band web site, original report by Stan Ewing.