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Report by Brian Ellis, Bass Clarinetist - Delta Music Makers


The remarkable success of the 2013 International Ladner Bandfest can be attributed, deservedly, to its founder, Curt Jantzen, the Bandfest committee, a host of enthusiastic amateur bands, their supporters and an army of tireless volunteers.


Entering its 9th year, the best-ever, Bandfest attracted 21 amateur bands from the Greater Vancouver area, Vancouver Island and Washington State, providing continuous music in Memorial Park, Ladner, throughout the June 8 and 9 weekend.


Port Moody Community Band, conducted by Andrew Clark, who took over from band founder and 20-year plus musical director, Gord Hembruff, opened the two-day event on a patriotic note with O Canada.  Ending with a selection from the Beatles, they were followed by the Metropolitan Concert Band, who kicked off with a lively rendition of J.F. Wagner’s Under the Double Eagle, capably led by music director, Dan Hearty.


In its 79th year of continuous operation, the New Westminster & District Concert Band, led by music director, John White, inspired the lunch-time crowd with a fine selection of charts, ranging from Cantus Jubilante to Broadway Showstoppers.


Another popular favourite, the West Vancouver Adult Community Band, in their snazzy outfits, took to the stage in the early afternoon and provided the crowd with a rousing performance, under the exuberant direction of Tak Maeda.


The first out-of-town band, North Cascades Concert Band, Washington State, once again inspired the crowd with their brand of concert music, ably led by Rob Patterman.


One of the keenest supporters of the Bandfest is, without doubt, Mayor Lois Jackson.  In her official capacity, representing the Corporation of the City of Delta, she praised the organizers of the Bandfest for bringing musicians together for the past nine years, for what she believes is, “the largest gathering of bands in Canada”.


As a complete surprise to Bandfest founder and Delta Music Makers music director, Curt Jantzen, Mayor Jackson presented him with the coveted, Long Term Contribution Award – “In recognition of 30 years of outstanding service in the field of amateur music in Delta through the Delta Music Makers and Ladner Bandfest”.


The Mayor explained that she would not be at the Council meeting when Curt is to receive official recognition, so she wanted to make sure that she was the one who made the presentation to him in person.


Who better to follow that incredible moment than the ever-popular Delta Concert Band, under the watchful eye of music director, Jim Tempest?  Opening with Robert Buckley’s, Postcard From Amsterdam and ending with Magic of Sammy Cahn, they brought the audience back to earth and wowed them with their outstanding performance.


Around the Sound Community Band, travelling all the way from Seattle, Washington, to make their debut at the Bandfest, provided an enthusiastic performance under the direction of Michael Alstad, to the delight of the audience.  Michael, incidentally, is the nephew-in-law of our very own clarinetist, Willard Coates.


The Bandfest organizers are always looking for something “a little bit different” and this year the Band of the Royal Westminster Regiment, conducted by Sergeant Scott Weaver filled the bill.  Celebrating its 150th Anniversary, the band made its debut appearance at the Bandfest with the kind permission of its Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Doug Poitras, CD.  They regaled the crowd with a wide selection of popular hits, ending on a patriotic note with, The Maple Leaf Forever.


Providing additional variety, A Little Night Music Orchestra, ably conducted by Chris Haas, stepping in for Peter Stigings, entertained the afternoon crowd with their distinctive sounds, from J.S. Bach’s Fugue in G Minor to Selections From Porgy & Bess.


The Vancouver Traveling Band, under the watchful eye of Harry Peterson, and making its second appearance at the Bandfest, also did something “a little bit different”.  The audience was taken by surprise when musical sounds came from behind them.  To the rhythms of Bill Bailey, several musicians made their way through the crowd to the front of the stage area where they joined up with the rest of the band.  Finishing off with Louis Armstrong’s, What A Wonderful World, they brought to a close the first day’s performances and the audience’s enthusiastic and appreciative responses.



Kicking off the second day’s schedule, the South Fraser Community Band, led by Steve Ho, can always be relied upon to waken up the audience with their lively tunes.  They were followed by an equally effervescent and casually dressed North Vancouver Community Band, competently directed by Victor Guy, who opened their set with Take The ‘A’ Train.


The ever-reliable Richmond Community Concert Band, ably led by Bob Mullett, has members who play in several other Bandfest bands.  The adage, “practice makes perfect” stands up well for this group of fine musicians who opened their set with a Dixie polka.


Always a crowd-pleaser, the Vancouver Naval Veterans’ Band, directed by Bob Juulsen, performed its brand of martial music to the delight of the enthusiastic spectators.  Two of their active and well seasoned players, World War II veterans, Sid Thrussell and Ted Shale, were introduced and received a warm reception from the appreciative audience.


Jim Littleford and his Little Mountain Brass Band can always be relied upon to bring something fresh and exhilarating to the Bandfest and once again they delivered with, There’s No Business Like Show Business and John William’s Epic Themes, among others.


Just before the break, host band Delta Music Makers, with the dynamic conducting duo, Curt Jantzen and Margaret Behenna, took to the gazebo stage to regale the crowd with its selection of fine charts.


Of paramount importance to the Bandfest is the recognition of the effort put into the event by its organizers, the bands, and an army of volunteers.  During the brief intermission, Curt thanked all those who made this event possible, including the sponsors and schools, who loaned heavier equipment for the weekend.


This year’s Delta Music Makers $300 scholarship recipient, Delta Secondary School student, Ryan Esau, was introduced to the audience.  The cheque was later presented to him at his school’s Commencement Ceremony.


Royal City Concert Band, the first to register for the Bandfest, got to kick off the second half of the day under the watchful eye of conductor, Peter Wenzek.


The Greater Victoria Concert Band, making its Bandfest debut under the direction of music director, Mike Keddy, opened with Austin Scott’s lively march, Waverley Mount.  In their closing selection, The Incredibles, the conductor disappeared from the front to “conduct from the rear” while playing the drum set for that piece, then reappeared at the end of the performance.


Making their fifth appearance at the Bandfest, Maple Ridge Concert Band continues to entertain audiences in their area with a full slate of concerts under the watchful eye of music director, Ed Dumas.  They invited the audience to spend A Day At The Circus as they played lively tunes depicting clowns, a stuntman shot from a cannon and dancing bears.  A novel concept, which must have been fun to practice.


Lynn Valley Black Bear Band, capably led by Rob McLeod, is another Bandfest favourite, as well as becoming the largest adult community concert band on the North Shore in just over eight years.


The last performance of the day is generally a crowd-pleaser and this year’s group lived up to their unique reputation.  Bringing the Bandfest to another successful conclusion was the Vancouver Dorfmusik, under the capable baton of Gordon Koch, and featuring the ever-popular Alp Horn of Bob Mullett.


For their efforts in appearing at the Bandfest, each band received a participant’s package comprising generous gift certificates from Long & McQuade and Matterhorn Music, plus a participation certificate and colorful Bandfest programme.


We have said it before, and we will say it repeatedly, that this Bandfest would not be possible without the invaluable contributions of its volunteers and the enthusiastic support of its musicians and sponsors, all of whom give their time and support so freely.


Next year will mark the 10th anniversary of the Ladner Bandfest and besides planning for a stellar event of amateur bands, the organizers are hopeful that they will be able to feature the outstanding Naden Band of the Royal Canadian Navy on both days.

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