Photo Contributed The Nanaimo Concert Band celebrates its 145th anniversary with a special concert Sunday (April 23) at 2:30 p.m. at the Port Theatre.

Nanaimo Concert Band celebrates 145th anniversary with spring concert

Concert is Sunday (April 23) at Nanaimo’s Port Theatre

For 145 years, Nanaimo Concert Band members have serenaded audiences on Vancouver Island.

The band began in 1872 when Rev. James Reynard, the rector of St. Paul’s Anglican Church suggested organizing a brass band in Nanaimo, according to Brass Roots, a book on the history of the Nanaimo Concert Band written by Amy Campbell. The group, known then as the Nanaimo Brass Band, played church concerts, shows for charity and other community events. It wasn’t until the 1950s that the band adopted the current name it uses today.

To celebrate the significant milestone, the Nanaimo Concert Band is hosting a spring concert on Sunday (April 23) at 2:30 p.m. at the Port Theatre.

The show includes songs by Canadian composers in honour of Canada’s 150th anniversary, a special piece to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge and a piece for trumpet player Al Campbell, who is celebrating his 75th anniversary with the band.

“If you have heard the band before and you liked us, you are really going to enjoy this special concert,” said Shari Barker, a member of the Nanaimo Concert Band. “And if you haven’t heard us, then this is a great opportunity to come and see what we are all about.”

The musicians will also play two songs in honour of Stan Wardill, a longtime member who passed away on March 13.

One of the songs is When the Saints Go Marching In, which Wardill told people he wanted to have played when he died.

“Stan was almost the father of the band,” said Barker, adding that he knew everyone’s name. “He was almost like the heart of the band … He had charisma and was a complete gentleman.”

Barker said Wardill beloved by audience members and would often sell 300 tickets by himself to shows.

“He had a following,” said Barker, adding that his concert fans were often referred to as Wardill’s Warriors.

Wardill joined the band on April 8, 1937 and didn’t quit the band until he was in his early 90’s, said Barker.

Tickets are $16 available in advance by calling 250-754-8550 or by visiting www.porttheatre.com.

For more information about the Nanaimo Concert Band, please visit http://nanaimoconcertband.com.

arts@nanaimobulletin.com