Muskoka To-DAILY

Orillia Silver Band to kick brass on April 28 in Rene Caisse Theatre ‘Budding Fanfare’ concert

Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAILY.com

BRACEBRIDGE — To hear the Orillia Silver Band they kick brass.

The Orillia Silver Band are considered one of the best brass bands in Ontario. They play the Rene Caisse Theatre Friday night, April 28.

The Orillia Silver Band are considered one of the best brass bands in Ontario. They play the Rene Caisse Theatre Friday night, April 28.

It is among the best British-style brass bands in Ontario.

“The Silver” is gold, thanks to the Midas touch of new conductor Neil Barlow, who has pushed the band to new levels.

Fresh off the fall release of their first CD — “Mariposa Sketches” — the 32-piece band plays the Rene Caisse Theatre in Bracebridge Friday April 28, at 7:30 p.m.

The show is called Budding Fanfare.

To help the city below the Severn celebrate its sesquicentennial — along with Canada’s 150th — Barlow took the former marching band off Mississauga Street and paraded them into the studio (at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church) for two days last October to record a compact disc whose sum is worth more than the price of individually streaming each of the 14 tracks.

It’s on sale now.

"Mariposa Sketches" is the Silver's first CD. It features 14 tracks, as its signature piece was composed for the band by Len Ballantine.

“Mariposa Sketches” is the Silver’s first CD. It features 14 tracks, as its signature piece was composed for the band by Len Ballantine.

Starting with the “Railroad Trilogy,” The Silver’s gathering take on Gordon Lightfoot’s iconic Canadian song.

The CD is based on the book “Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town,” by another favourite Orillia son, Stephen Leacock.

They commissioned Canadian composer Len Ballantine to score a special medley of relatable tunes in “Mariposa Sketches” that take you for a stroll along the shores of Lake Couchiching.

“Dockside,” “Summer Haze,” “At The Bandshell,” “Lovers Stroll Down Main Street,” and “At the Fair” have you walking the shoreline through Tudhope Park, which will be busy this summer with 150th celebration events.

Other highlights of the CD are and a rare reed solo by saxophonist Kim Barlow, on the Beatles classic, “Motherless Child.” She’s normally seen peeking out from behind a big bass drum in the percussion section with Ross Arnold and Paul Minnoch.

Fran Harvey’s B-flat cornet solo on “The Shepherd’s Song,” euphonium soloist Paul Rayment on “The Star,” and Marshall Martin’s organ solo on “Festmusik der tadt Wien,” also showcase the incredible musicianship and delicate playing of the four sololists and the entire band on the CD.

Robert Redhead arranged the CD opening track, Gordon Lightfoot's "Railroad Trilogy."

Robert Redhead arranged the CD opening track, Gordon Lightfoot’s “Railroad Trilogy.”

Robert Redhead, 94, the dean of brass bands in Canada who retired to Orillia a decade ago and now leads the Orillia Citadel band, arranged the opening Triology track.

Redhead, a B-flat tuba player, was “born into the Salvation Army.” He rose to play in the Canadian Salvation Army Staff Band and played and led the International Staff Band in London, England.

He’s sure Lightfoot has heard the band’s version, but he can’t remember if he consulted with him on it before arranging it.

The musicians “want to play” in the Silver Band. They come from far and wide — from north Muskoka to Midland and Barrie, as well as the core in Orillia.

The band has its roots to this day in the Orillia Salvation Army, where they practice each Thursday and where a few members remain part of the Citadel’s own band.

Paul Rayment says the band ranks up with the best in Ontario.

Paul Rayment says the band ranks up with the best in Ontario.

They formed in 1949, like many town bands, and were well-respect through Central Ontario playing marching under the longtime command of Harry Peacock.

They were often seen in Gravenhurst on the Barge or on the curling rink on the main street in the early days of the winter carnival.

Euphonium player Paul Rayment, who spent a decade with the Canadian Air Force and the Central Command Band, and was a Salvation Army band member, is a retired music teacher who has lived and played in various brass bands across Ontario.

He is one of at least three still in the band who also previously swung the baton as conductor.

He says a lot of the Silver’s success now is to do with the addition of Barlow as conductor four years ago.

Conductor Neil Barlow has raised the band's level of play significantly the past four years.

Conductor Neil Barlow has raised the band’s level of play significantly the past four years.

“He has raised the level of the band’s playing with his leadership.”

Through practice, a playable and professional repertoire.

And they’re “achieving greatness,” Rayment says.

“Neil pushed us to the limit, but not over it.

“Musically,” the Silver “have the fundamentals and capability to sound and play good.

“They’re very good to excellent,” he says.

He ranks them up with the top bands in Ontario, and gaining them a solid reputation alongside leading groups like the Metropolitan Silver Band, which Harvey conducts, and the Hannaford Silver Band, both out of Toronto.

Jim Ferris, first baritone, and longtime member says the band is “tighter.”

He says some of the pieces on the CD (and that they will play in Bracebridge) are the “best we’ve ever played them.”

The 32-piece band is made up of young and old players "who want to play," from across Central Ontario.

The 32-piece band is made up of young and old players “who want to play,” from across Central Ontario.

Barlow agrees the Silver have “taken up the challenge.”

“They’re buying in and raising their game.”

Cornetist Harvey, whose husband Minnoch plays percussion, says:

“The OSB is a terrific group to work with,” Harvey says.

“The members are dedicated and work hard together to make the best possible performance every time we play together.”

She says playing cornet in a brass band is different from other groups.

“In a brass band the cornets play the parts that the violins would play in an orchestra or the flutes and clarinets would play in a band, so the playing is technically very demanding. And we basically play all of the time.

“In a concert band or orchestra the trumpets have the big moments,” she says. “But with a fair bit of resting in between.

Cornetist Fran Harvey skolos on the French traditional piece "The Shepherd's Song."

Cornetist Fran Harvey skolos on the French traditional piece “The Shepherd’s Song.”

“In a brass band, every part has solos in it and every part is important.”

She says the music on the concert has really fun selections ranging from classics to jazz and some great Canadian music to celebrate Canada 150.

The talents of the band and collectively and individually are enormous, she boats.

At the recent North American Brass Bands Association spring competition, four of the OSB members played in small ensembles championships.

Harvey, say their two groups won silver and bronze medals, which she said is “an amazing accomplishment.”

The group that was second in the NABBA competition premiered a special version of “Juno 1944,” by Canadian composer Ty Watson.

And the OSB has that piece planned as part of its concert Friday night at the community theatre attached to the Bracebridge High School.

“It’s a powerful piece that commemorates the important role Canada played in the Normandy landings,” says Harvey.

And on the “Mariposa Sketches” CD, Harvey said recording the CD last fall was a great experience.

 

Orillia Silver Band, Friday, April 28, Rene Caisse Theatre, 7:30 p.m.

Orillia Silver Band, Friday, April 28, Rene Caisse Theatre, 7:30 p.m.

“I can honestly say that I have never done a recording with a community group who worked harder. The end result is, I think, a really great recording.

“My personal favourite on it, aside from “Mariposa Sketches,” is Barlow playing “Sometimes I Feel like a Motherless Child.”

“You don’t often hear a saxophone with a brass band and she does an incredible job on that piece.”

If you miss them, The Silver will be playing next Saturday, May 6, for their ‘Spring Fling Concert,’ 7:30 p.m. at St. Paul Centre, 62 Peter St. North, Orillia.

See photo gallery below of recent rehearsal, click on photos to enlarge.

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