Band festival wraps up

Times-Herald Staff
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Sharon Penner is ready for a break.

Members of the Winnipeg's John Pritchard School Grade 9 Band perform on Wednesday at the Mae Wilson Theatre, during the Moose Jaw Band & Choral Festival.

The coordinator for the 65th Moose Jaw Band and Choral Festival told the Times-Herald that a dozen band directors have already approached her about pre-registering for next years festival.

"I have been telling them I am not taking any registrations at this time," said Penner.  "Call me in June. I need a break for a couple weeks anyway."

It's been a busy week that saw 70 bands and 19 choirs from all three prairie provinces perform for eight busy clinicians. Penner said that everyone she has spoken to has been impressed by the calibre of music and the interesting repertoire of the groups.

Penner added that the students loved the festival and the city.

 "The new ones seemed quite facinated not just with the festival but also with Moose Jaw," she said. "They were really pleased with everything."

The work for Penner and the rest of the planning committee began long before the first day of the festival on May 12. Finding volunteers was the biggest challenge, she said.

"Talk about beating the bushes. By beating the bushes I found some really, really good people. That's worth it all right there," said Penner. "Once we get it going it runs like a little clock."

This year was the 65th Anniversary for the festival, but Penner told the Times-Herald that it felt like any other year. She reminisced that after all these years the festival has seen many changes, including a shift to a smaller, non-competitive festival format with more time with the clinicians. 

"Musical needs change and we keep changing with what the masses want and that seems to be the answer," she said.

A highlight of the week for Penner was the Tuesday and Wednesday evening shows, featuring Moose Jaw's own Statacona Soul and the 7-piece R&B band Chameleon from Brandon, Man..

"They were just off the charts," said Penner. "They certainly appealed to the audience and they were fantastic shows."

Penner is happy with the current format of the festival and doesn't expect any significant changes for next year's festival.

"The four days works very well for the volunteer base and the committee base that we have and also there just isn't another suitable venue in town," she said. "We have snagged the four most appropriate venues and until someone comes up with a fifth."

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

Organizations: Times-Herald

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Brandon

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