Al Campbell

Al Campbell

Nanaimo bands celebrate anniversary milestones

Nanaimo Concert Band and Nanaimo Musicians Association Big Band perform during concert Sunday (Feb. 26).

Two great music groups are celebrating their musical milestones with a joint concert

Nanaimo Concert Band is having its 145 anniversary and it’s the Nanaimo Musicians Association Big Band’s 50th Anniversary and they are celebrating with music.

The groups perform during a special joint concert Sunday (Feb. 26) at 2:30 p.m. at Generations Church, located at 1300 Princess Ave. Tickets are $10 available in advance from Arbutus Music, Tom Lee Music, Fascinating Rhythm or at the door.

The Nanaimo Concert Band is known to be one of the top Concert Bands in Canada, winning gold in the toughest category in the National Band Festival Competition. This national award-winning band performs a wide-ranging musical repertoire including classical, big band, marches, show tunes and more. It is the oldest continuously performing concert band in Canada, celebrating 145 years of making music.

For 50 years Nanaimo Musicians Association Big Band has promoted the performance of big band music through jazz concerts and ballroom dances and has awarded scholarships worth tens of thousands of dollars to student musicians. They will be featuring their talented singer, Sydney Needham and perform arrangements recorded by Ella Fitzgerald, Julie London, Natalie Cole and Dianne Schuur.

The bands play different types of music, but they have a few things in common. They share a few talented musicians, including Al Campbell. In the 1960s, Campbell led a group of Nanaimo dance band musicians who had played in the famous Pygmy Ballroom Orchestra. They formed a big band directed by Bryan Stovell that could play Jazz arrangements as well as dance music.

Sponsored by the Nanaimo Musicians Association they invited Nanaimo high school and Malaspina College (now known as Vancouver Island University) musicians to join them to play jazz concerts and fundraising swing dances. Campbell joined the Nanaimo Concert Band 75 years ago.

Both bands can play a great swing tune and are having their milestone anniversaries in 2017. Each will play a series of songs and end with a mass band swing piece.

Shari Barker is a member of and publicist for the Nanaimo Concert Band.