Bands and Choirs invade Moose Jaw

Times-Herald Staff
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Moose Jaw Band and Choral Festival celebrate 65th year

For the 65th year the friendly city is once again the home of the 2014 Moose Jaw Band and Choral Festival.

Members of the Lindale School band perform at the 2014 Moose Jaw Band Festival on Monday.

This week various venues across the city will host 70 bands and 19 choirs from across the prairie provinces. Many of the bands come back year after year because they feel comfortable coming to our city, said Sharon Penner, coordinator of the festival.

"A lot of our bands come from small towns in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba," said Penner. "They like to do touristy things and it's a safe environment to come to. They can wonder up and down mainstreet for an hour and meet back at the bus and they know they won't get mugged or lost."

The non-competitive festival format has offered a unique hands-on experience for each group since the festival changed it's format in 1995. After playing their selected songs, the groups have a 45 minute workshop with two high quality clinicians.

"There is always room for improvement and the cliniticians are there to point out little ways you can be playing better or things that can be tweeked, to just make it a better performance," said Penner. "All-in-all it's about enjoyment and education."

The festival's eight clinicians – who are music educators from across Canada — will be spread out across the four venues: the peacock auditorium, the Mae Wilson Theatre, the Zion United Church and the Esterhazy Room of Mosaic Place.

Penner explained that the shift to a smaller festival, with more time with longer workshops took place because the festival was becoming too hectic.

"It used to be very, very competitive," said Penner. "There were medals and prizes and everything else."

The current format is meant to create a less stressful, nervous atmosphere.

"Our mandate is playing for the love of music and hopefuly it will be a lifetime venture," said Penner.  "When you are 40 or 45 you can be playing in a community band."

Along with the nearly 90 bands and choirs performing this week, the festival will also host evening shows. Tuesday evening Moose Jaw's own, Stadacona Soul will be playing at the Mae Wilson Theatre at 6:30 and 8 p.m.. Wednesday will be headlined by Chameleon, a seven-piece R&B band from Brandon, Man. 

Tickets for the evening shows are $5 and are available at the Mae Wilson Theatre Box Office. For more information on the festival, visit mjbandfestival.com.

Nathan Frank can be reached at 306-691-1263.

Organizations: Mae Wilson Theatre Box Office, Zion United Church

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Alberta, Saskatchewan Manitoba Canada Brandon

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