All City Band – A Musical Community
An interview with All City Band Directors
Every Tuesday after I get off work, I go home, eat dinner, and grab my case. In this case is a series of hollow cylinders with metal buttons and switches. Each tube is punctured with holes.
With case in hand I go to the high school band room, where several musicians are waiting to play. I sit down in my spot, open up my case and put together the tubes with holes, which now form a clarinet. I sit patiently and wait until everybody is ready for the music to start.
This is the life of a member of the All City Band Society; a wonderful collection of musicians of all ages. Several groups under the All City Band Banner get together every week and practice their pieces, preparing to perform. I recently got the opportunity to interview the two Band directors: Keith Todd, and Tristan Fox, and asked them to explain what the All City band is.
“We’re a society of musicians.” Explains Mr. Fox. “We rehearse several different groups based off of ability levels and interest and different varieties and styles of music. We perform for the community, … and basically we just spread the love of music.”
“The depth of ages is amazing” Adds Mr. Todd”, “We have people in it as young as 13, all the way up to 77, so it’s a real nice cross-section of people in age, but [also] of different backgrounds and cultures. It’s actually a very cool organisation to be a part of.”
Being in the All City Senior Band, I can understand what they’re talking about. Being part of such a diverse group of people who all love music is really a great feeling.
“We’re both the co-directors” Explained Mr. Todd. They play the leadership role for the society, taking on responsibilities such as: leading the bands, artistic direction, choosing the music, choosing the location of the trip. All of this, and conducting the Senior band which usually has 60 – 70 people, Junior band with about 40 – 50, 60 grade 8 kids, and the Jazz band which has about 15 people. “We keep things light, we keep things with a direction, we keep things, just, movin’” explained Mr. Fox.
It’s very clear that they’re passionate about what they do. They put a lot of hard work into every part of the organisation. I can only imagine how many hours they put into doing what they do, organising and conducting so many bands.
The All City band Society performs in many places annually. They perform at the elementary schools around Whitehorse, the Rotary Music Festival, and in their own Christmas concerts. They also travel every year, going places like Whistler, Banff, Langley, and places a bit closer such as Old Crow. “We do lots of concerts. It’s definitely a performance oriented program.” – Mr. Todd
Some of my favourite pieces that the All City Band have performed are the pop culture pieces, like The Star Wars Medley, Led Zeppelin, but they have performed other beautiful pieces like Robert Buckley’s Arctic Fire.
I remember The Led Zeppelin Medley was synced up to the Rendezvous Fireworks a few years back. People came in and set up mics to record the band, and then when the fireworks were set up to detonate on beat to the music which was broadcasted over radio.
“Every now and then you see these musicians that just make it look effortless.” Said Mr. Fox, when asked what inspires him. “We know that that’s a result of thousands of hours of practice. But, just to be able to see somebody emote by taking little dots on a page and turn it into feelings through soundwaves. That inspires me all the time.”
“I think for me, every time music is re-created or performed, it’s always a unique moment in time.” adds Mr. Todd “Even if you’re performing the same piece, it’s always going to have a different context, a different mood, a different feeling. You never know what you’re going to end up with, but usually, each moment is unique and meaningful.”
To cap off the interview, I asked them if they had anything to say to young aspiring musicians who might be trying to make it in music. What they said is truly inspiring.
“Love what you do” Says Mr. Fox. “Being a musician traditionally doesn’t pay very well, but we don’t do what we do for the pay-cheque. You have to really love music, because there’s a lot of pain, there’s a lot of frustration that goes into it. You’ve gotta be prepared. You’re gonna fail many times, but that’s how you get better.”
“If you really go after it you have to discipline yourself for a regular routine of refining your craft.” Adds Mr. Todd. “The joy really comes out with knowing that you’re getting better and you’ve got those basic skills because then you can really explore.”
Overall from this interview (and from personal experience) I can tell you that the All City Band Society is really an amazing organization. It is the perfect example of a great community of Musicians, and it’s in good hands. I believe Tristan Fox and Keith Todd are taking the All City Band to great places. I wish them and everybody involved in the group, good luck in all of their musical endeavours.
Please visit allcityband.com to check out what they are up to.