Season 24: Year in Review

Logo 2

Looking back at

the 2014-2015 Season

Twenty-four years ago, right about now, the Brampton Youth Wind Ensemble was sitting on the brink of incorporation. The little band that Colin had started as a three-year project, gave its first stand-alone concert on June 5, 1993 at the MacMillan Theatre at U of T. On June 5, 2016, the Toronto Youth Wind Orchestra will return to the scene of its debut with 4 ensembles and some 150+ musicians, having under its belt 25 years, 100+ concerts, about 1200 pieces of music and upwards of 1500 alumni.

Looking back on the past season, 128 musicians arrived on Audition Day – one of them, obviously wanting to create a good impression, arriving in full concert dress! By the end of the season, we had amassed 55 members of the Wind Orchestra, an all-time record of 69 Symphonic Winds and 22 Concert Winds.

A year ago, on the long return flight from China, musicians were engrossed in preparing their wish lists for repertoire for the coming season – all with a common theme – John Mackey. And so the 24th season of TYWO hit the ground running.

Any season that begins with the arrival of John Mackey has success written all over it. It probably never occurred to the musicians, as they were preparing their lists, that they would get the man as well as his music. Equally, it never occurred to Colin to present the music of John Mackey without John Mackey.

John is probably the most genial guy we will ever work with. A perfectionist about his music, whatever misgivings we might have had when he informed us that he didn’t actually conduct, were quickly dispelled. He led workshops at York University, Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School and Markham District High School before leading both the Wind Orchestra and Symphonic Winds in rehearsal and was sincere in his praise for the interpretation of his music by both ensembles in concert.

And the icing on the cake? TYWO is proud of the distinction to have performed the Canadian première of both “The Frozen Cathedral” and “Kingfishers Catch Fire”.

Next up – our Metropolitan Winds came together for a concert on November 22 at Grace Church-on-the-Hill. “Airs and Dances” drew a respectable audience of just over 100 people and netted a small profit.

A week later, we were back at St. Mike’s for a memorable Joyful Noise, which became less joyful as the lights went out in the middle of Symphonic Metamorphosis. Like the man who waltzed with the girl with the strawberry curls – the band played on. We moved to intermission and set up for the Concert Winds – for many of them, their first experience ever on a proper stage. They had barely commenced their first-ever TYWO concert, when the fire alarms went off.

And that was pretty much game over. The theatre was evacuated and musicians and audience moved to the cold side of the doors – where our indomitable Symphonic Winds decided to entertain the crowd to an outdoor concert. Pretty funny when you consider that Santa who spends the entire Christmas Season in chimneys and fireplaces was stopped by the Fire Department as his sleigh hovered over Bathurst Street and was refused permission to land because of a fire alarm. Eventually the fire department gave the all clear and an impromptu concert resumed on stage! You gotta hand it to those Symphonic Winds – they just never pass up a performance opportunity!

The Concert Winds gave their own concert – an extra-joyful noise – 4 days later, when the Music Room at Bayview Glen was transformed into a makeshift theatre – and 22 mini musicians played with gusto to an adoring audience of parents, grandparents and assorted fans.

Kicking off 2015, the Wind Orchestra/Adult Band combo entertained nine emerging composers of band music, who were invited to attend a reading session of their selected works, as a project of the Canadian Music Centre in conjunction with the Canadian Band Assn.

A week later came Chicago North. Our annual fund-raiser showcased the talents of all our ensembles, with the added attractions of dinner and some competitive bidding at the silent auction. A live auctioneer added the finishing touch to the proceedings.

A little over two weeks later, at a ridiculously early hour on a Thursday morning, the Wind Orchestra piled on to a bus and several Tim Hortons stops later, pulled in at the Chicago Hilton.

It was a whilrwind 4 days of rehearsals and workshops with the highlights – seeing Yo Yo Ma with the Silk Road Ensemble at Chicago Symphony Center – and stepping on to the same stage just hours later; seeing “The Bean” up close and personal; eating ourselves into a stupour at Brazazz – but mostly, enjoying the bonding and cameraderie of another successful TYWO Tour.

Easter Weekend it was back to Queensway for a gruelling 5 performances and two weeks later, the TYWO Swing Band was off to Keswick for a day of being pampered and treated like royalty. Two hugely successful, sold-out jazz shows netted us standing ovations, donations .. and most importantly – supper!

Our Metropolitan Winds played “April in Paris” – well, more correctly, April in Grace Church – enjoyed by musicians and audience alike!

The end of the season was in sight – Cadence proved to be among the most popular guest artists ever – they forged an immediate love affair with our musicians, students at the morning concert and every evening audience member at the Toronto Centre for the Arts. Unfortunately, we were once again hit by the teachers’ job action, which resulted in us first cancelling one of the two planned student concerts and eventually playing to only 800 students. A small silver lining in this, is that some of the suddenly vacant seats were donated to some schools in the so-called Neighbourhood Improvement Areas – paving the way for our intention to fully fund a future concert for students who would not otherwise have the opportunity to experience a live concert in the prestigious surroundings of the Toronto Centre for the Arts.

But the season didn’t end there. Two days later, the Symphonic Winds and Concert Winds put on a fantastic concert to a standing-room-only crowd at Scarborough Civic Centre. Liam brought his jazz trio to entertain during the intermission – some Wind Orchestra musicians showed up to help the Symphonic Winds and some Symphonic Winds shored up the Concert Winds – all this fantastically presented by Dan Horner and Ben Promane, while we all know that it was actually the behind-the-scenes miracle-working by the one and only Ian Anhorn that made it all flow smoothly.

The curtain finally fell on the 24th season on May 30, when our intrepid Symphonic Winds took to the stage of the Glenn Gould Studio in a joint concert with the Weston Silver Band. It was a feel-good event – both bands performed very different repertoire and the evening came to an end with a well-deserved standing ovation.

Next up – the 25th Anniversary Season of the Toronto Youth Wind Orchestra.
We hope you’ll be a part of it!