Nanaimo Concert Band conductor Gerry Klaassen leads his musicians through rehearsals at St. Andrew’s United Church. (Josef Jacobson/The News Bulletin)

Nanaimo Concert Band prepares for Fall Concert

Show to feature light classics, marches, show tunes and more

Fall is a busy time for the Nanaimo Concert Band.

On Oct. 1 the ensemble performed at the Nanaimo Child Development Centre telethon at the Port Theatre and on Nov. 11 they will play at Remembrance Day proceedings at the Nanaimo Cenotaph.

But before they play sombre hymns and the Last Post, the band is returning to the Port Theatre Stage for their Annual Fall Concert on Sunday, Nov. 5.

“If you enjoy concert music, like concert band music, you come once and we’re going to have you hooked,” conductor Gerry Klaassen said.

“We can play the light classics … we’ve got marches, we’ve got a musical, we’ve got music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, we’ve got some Canadian music and we’ve got some original music as well. So a little bit of everything.”

Klaassen said the fall show will also include a couple of pieces from the band’s telethon performance. He said it can be tricky putting together a balanced program that pleases everyone

“Some people love marches and they say, ‘You don’t put enough marches in it,’” he said

“Well I usually have at least two in and if I put four or five then some people say, ‘You play too many marches.’”

Klaassen said he aims to include familiar pieces, like Franz von Suppé’s Light Cavalry Orchestra, to appeal to the concert’s following.

“We get some high school students come out to listen to the band to get ideas, but mostly it’s the older generation,” he said.

“So we play melodies and songs and pieces that our audience is probably going to recognize because if we play music that’s set for a university crowd that wants some new, atonal music that’s a little off the wall, our audience isn’t going to come back.”

The community band, which has been active for 145 years and currently includes more than 45 members, is composed entirely of volunteer musicians. Some have been members for decades.

Klaassen had directed the group on-and-off since 1996. Before that he both played in and conducted military bands for 33 years.

“Its a challenge and yet it’s fun,” he said of working with the concert band as opposed to his past military outfits.

“Those were professional bands. This is not a professional band, this is an amateur band. Actually this one is just as much fun, if not more, because we can take a piece that they don’t know and get it to where it’s performable in front of an audience with a fair amount of practise. And they like to practise.”

WHAT’S ON…Nanaimo Concert Band Annual Fall Concert at the Port Theatre on Sunday, Nov. 5 at 2:30 p.m. All seats $16.

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