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Canmore students selected for Southern Alberta Junior Honour Band

“There’s a really great sound when you get that amount of people all playing together."
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Canmore Collegiate High School Grade 9 concert band percussionist Stephen Denton, left, and clarinetist Daniel Brett arrive at band class on Monday (Feb. 3). CHELSEA KEMP RMO PHOTO

CANMORE – Striking the right note with their instruments, four Canmore students have been selected to play with the prestigious 2020 Southern Alberta Junior Honour Band.

Grade 9 Canmore Collegiate High School students clarinettist Daniel Brett and percussionist Stephen Denton will be returning to the honour band stage for the second time this year.

“We got really lucky this time,” Brett said with a chuckle.

“It’s really good to go and do it again.”

He added that it is especially meaningful being selected for the workshop because it is the last year Brett and Denton are eligible to play with the Southern Alberta Junior Honour Band.

The honour band features around 100 students from southern Alberta. The musicians will be uniting in harmony under the direction of conductor Rob Speers in Calgary from Feb. 12-14. A public performance will take place at the Boyce Theatre at Stampede Park at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 14.

Students are nominated for the honour band by their music teachers based on their musicality, engagement and leadership in school band programs.

It was incredible playing with the honour band last year, Brett explained, because it served as an opportunity to collaborate with high-level musicians who share a passion for playing music. He added that it is an incredible experience to be immersed for three days with students who love music as much he does.

“We’re pretty excited honestly,” Denton said.

“It’s a great experience – it’s really fun to be playing with a lot of musicians who are really enthusiastic about what they do.”

The students receive the music they will be playing ahead of the workshop and are given tips on how to best practise for the honour band.

Denton said they began practicing as soon as they received their sheet music in January to ensure they were ready to hit the stage.

It was pivotal to receive the music ahead of time, Brett said, so they can ensure that they are ready to hit the stage ready to play. He added that he was “blown away” by the end results of last year's concert and cannot wait to see what this year holds.

“There’s a really great sound when you get that amount of people all playing together,” Denton said. “You get a wider range of effects that you can create and a wider range of moods or atmospheres.”

During the workshop, Denton said it is an adjustment playing with that many people at first, adding last year they played with 96 students. A stark contrast to the Canmore Collegiate Jazz Band that features 20 to 30 musicians.

He described the honour band as three days of intense practice that runs 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. It is easy to stay fresh and motivated though, Denton said, because its an opportunity to do something they love.

Lawrence Grassi Middle School Grade 8 tuba player Aven Achenbach and Grade 8 trombonist Conrad Boiger will be joining the Canmore Collegiate students on stage.

It is a new experience for the students Achenbach said, adding she was fittingly watching a band documentary when she found out she had been selected.

The duo said they were thrilled when they found out they were selected for the honour band and immediately began practicing the seven songs they would be playing with the group.

“I’ve been practicing every day,” Achenbach said. “It’s intense.”

Boiger added that while there is some stress associated with preparing for the workshop, especially with the increased difficulty level of the music they received, he is excited to meet students who love playing music as much as he does.

Achenbach said she reached out to Brett and Denton for tips on how to make the most of the experience.

“They told me not to worry about it and just have fun,” she said.


Chelsea Kemp

About the Author: Chelsea Kemp

Chelsea Kemp joined the Cochrane Eagle in 2020 as editor, bringing with her experience as a reporter and photojournalist. She writes about politics, health care, arts and entertainment and Indigenous stories.
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