Band and Choral Festival "going tickity-boo": organizer

Justin Crann
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Sharon Penner hasn’t had the chance to listen to as much “good music” since she started volunteering as an organizer of the Moose Jaw Band and Choral Festival.

A band performs at the Mae Wilson Theatre Tuesday afternoon as part of the 64th annual Moose Jaw Band and Choral Festival in 2013.

“I don’t get to hear very much of it. This is one of those cases where you join the board and never really get to hear many more notes,” she told the Times-Herald. “I do try to take one morning or afternoon off to go and listen to the music at the festival, but I’m not always successful.”

Penner, who has volunteered as an organizer on the Band and Choral Festival since 2000, said this year’s rendition “seems to be going tickity-boo.”

That’s good news: the festival is in its 65th year and kicks off in less than two weeks, starting on May 12.

“The old lady is finally a senior citizen,” Penner quipped. “We’re even going to have a cake.”

The festival runs a “totally non-competitive” format, which she said is likely why it has big waiting lists.

“This is what the music directors want. Each group is scheduled for an hour and we don’t even have a syllabus … people can play at their own levels and they can do two or three selections,” said Penner. “They’re heard by two clinicians, one doing a written adjudication and one an oral critique. … Then the two clinicians get up on the stage and have a workshop, right there with the kids.”

The end goal?

“We want to show kids they can have fun learning, and hopefully we want band to become a lifelong hobby (for them),” said Penner. “But even just encouraging an appreciation for good music is important.”

In that same spirit, she said, “we really encourage people to come out … and listen to the kids.”

“Just being able to hear music at all levels is fun, whether it’s a little beginner band honking and scratching and a few months away from making music, or the more polished bands and ensembles,” said Penner. “And it’s so much nicer (for the bands) to play for an audience.”

The daytime sessions are free admission and scattered at various venues across the city including Peacock Collegiate, Mosaic Place, the Mae Wilson Theatre and Zion United Church. The festival runs from May 12 to 15.

Evening performances by Stadacona Soul and Chameleon are also being held as part of the festival. Stadacona Soul performs May 12 at 7 p.m., and May 13 at 6:30 and 8 p.m. Chameleon performs May 14 at 6:30 and 8 p.m. All of these performances are being held at the Mae Wilson Theatre.

Tickets for those shows can be purchased from the Mae Wilson Theatre box office for $5, but Penner said the 8 p.m. shows were already sold out.

For more information, visit the festival’s website.

Organizations: Times-Herald, Mae Wilson Theatre, Zion United Church

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