Bryan Stovell will lead the Nanaimo Concert Band’s charity Christmas Concert on Dec. 11 at the Beban Park social centre. (Submitted photo)

Bryan Stovell will lead the Nanaimo Concert Band’s charity Christmas Concert on Dec. 11 at the Beban Park social centre. (Submitted photo)

Former Nanaimo Concert Band conductor to lead Christmas concert with meaningful baton

Bryan Stovell conducts charity event on Dec. 11 at Beban Park social centre

The Nanaimo Concert Band will mark its annual charity Christmas Concert this year with a special occasion.

The charity concert, where attendees are asked to provide a kettle or food donation to the Salvation Army in lieu of an admission fee, will be led by guest conductor and past music director, Bryan Stovell.

At the concert, Stovell will receive a significant baton that once belonged to another former conductor of the concert band, Dave Gueulette, who died in the fall last year.

Gueulette was a student in his high school band when he attended Nanaimo District Secondary School in the ’80s.

“We used to go off to play at MusicFest Canada, the nationals … and the year David was in Grade 11, I was very busy with the Grade 12 band – we were headed to Toronto for the nationals to compete, and David took it upon himself to put a band together for Grade 11s, a dixieland band of about seven members…” Stovell said. “He rehearsed it and everything and took them off to the nationals and got a gold medal … for a Grade 11 student to do that was quite something.”

After graduation, Gueulette then conducted the Nanaimo Concert band when he was 22 years old.

“He had a lot of what we call ‘chutzpah,’ given that most of the players were professionals in their 40s,” the conductor said.

After he died, Gueulette’s wife, who had also been a member of his high school band, wanted to gift him one of his former student’s batons.

“David was a big part of my life, and very kindly credits me with being a big part of his, too,” he said. “Band teachers, like drama teachers, you get pretty tight with the kids because you see them a lot… There’s after school rehearsals and they go on trips, so there’s a lot more bonding.”

Stovell said he plans to lead the Nanaimo Concert Band with his newly gifted baton on Sunday, Dec. 11, for the Christmas concert, which starts at 2:30 p.m. at Beban Park social centre’s auditorium.

“It’ll be a bit emotional. I’ll have to make an announcement and I’ll have to hold back the tears.”

READ MORE: Nanaimo Concert Band will be led by woman conductor for first time


mandy.moraes@nanaimobulletin.com

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