SIDNEY — Back in the winter of 1986/87, the Sidney Concert Band was nothing more than a glint in the eye of the local Celebrations Society.
It was the era of post-Expo 86, and someone pitched the idea that a town band be formed. That was all it took to begin an incredible journey that has lasted 30 years.
Although the launch of the Band’s first public performance on June 30,1987 was under rainy skies in Tulista Park, that did not dampen the spirits of the fledgling community band.
As one of the founding members, Dave Terrell remembers those early days well- and the rather cumbersome original name.
“The Band was originally called the Saanich Peninsula Community Concert Band,” recalls Terrell. “That was a bit of a mouthful and since we mostly played locally, we eventually changed the name to the Sidney Concert Band. Those are the only two names the Band has had.”
The biggest challenge facing the newly minted Band was not its unwieldy early moniker (often shortened to the “Peninsula Concert Band”) nor the unpredictability of an outdoor concert. The difficulty was the almost perpetual issue of locating a suitable rehearsal space.
“Finding a place to practice has always been a problem and we have used many places,” acknowledged Terrell.
In those early years and under the direction of first Conductor Walter Staub, Band members made Parkland High School their first home. A few years later, they moved to the old Sanscha Hall in Sidney.
When redevelopment of the Sanscha Hall began, the Band moved to “The Gallery”practice room at the Saanich Fairgrounds and then to Bayside Middle School.
After an official name change to the Sidney Concert Band (SCB) and a decade of appreciating the hospitality of the southern end of the Saanich Peninsula, the Band moved home to Sidney, where it now enjoys a rehearsal space at Peace Lutheran Church.
According to its Constitution, the purpose of the SCB Band is to “provide an arena where musicians of all ages can gather to enjoy playing music, to endeavour to better the musical capabilities of its members and to provide a band, representative of the Saanich Peninsula, available for civic and charitable functions.”
SCB usually has a membership of 35 to 40 musicians, ranging in age from 16 to over 80- although when the Band began, it had players as young as eight years old.
Its musicians have typically come from all over the Saanich Peninsula and the Greater Victoria area, but also from further up island and even from out of province. The Band is known for playing all types of music.
The Band participate in two parades each year: the Sidney Sparkles Parade and the Sidney Canada Day Parade.
They have enjoyed playing throughout the years for a range of events in various venues, be it local churches, the Beacon Avenue Bandshell, the Saanich Peninsula
Hospital or the Mary Winspear Centre. Many of these events have been benefit concerts or fundraisers — for everything from Tsunami relief efforts, Haiti Earthquake Disaster Relief and the Canadian Red Cross Alberta Fires Appeal — to supporting the Sidney Lions Food Bank and local Peninsula schools and air cadet band programs.
Perhaps SCB’s most cherished event is its annual Remembrance Day “Salute to our Veterans”concert, which typically takes place at the Winspear.
In addition, the Band has had a long-standing relationship in support of the Canadian Forces. In June 2010 its musicians even performed a musical salute at the Sidney Beacon Avenue Pavilion for the 100th Anniversary of the Canadian Navy.
Current President, Yvonne Kupsch is now hoping to hear from former Band members who played a part in SCB.
Their 30th Anniversary concert will be held in the Charlie White Theatre on May 28 at 2 p.m.
The Band is seeking former SCB members to come forward to share their memories and photos from the past.
Former band members are asked to visit sidneyconcertband.ca or contact the email@example.com.
— Submitted by Yvonne Kupsch