Feb. 22, 2019

UCalgary students showcase their musical chops in festival on campus

Calgary Stampede Showband to compete in the Alberta International Band Festival at the Rozsa Centre
Among University of Calgary students taking part in the upcoming Alberta International Band Festival on campus are, standing, from left: Connor Beatty, Renee Thoutenhoofd, and Ethan Toblan. Seated, from left: Jessica Silbernagel and Anna Carlson.

Standing: Connor Beatty, Renee Thoutenhoofd, Ethan Toblan. Seated: Jessica Silbernagel, Anna Carlson

Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

For first-year biology student Anna Carlson and her bandmates, performing live doesn’t get much better than the annual Alberta International Band Festival (AIBF) taking place at the University of Calgary's Rozsa Centre this weekend in the Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall — one of the premiere music recital facilities in Western Canada.

“I’ve been playing in the AIBF since junior high,” says Carlson, who plays the euphonium, a small tenor-pitched tuba. “It’s always a lot of fun, we get to play concert music. It’s a good showcase for us.”

Carlson and dozens of students across campus are members of the Calgary Stampede Showband, a youth leadership program created in 1971 to offer musical training to young Calgarians and to serve as international ambassadors for the Calgary Stampede. While the band plays all over North America and beyond every year, the AIBF gives them a chance to measure themselves against other homegrown talent from across Alberta and Western Canada.

“AIBF is a big deal for anyone involved in music in Alberta to get together and evaluate where we’re at,” says Connor Beatty, a first-year music major at UCalgary who plays trombone in three bands in his program on campus and has been with Showband for three years.

Sponsored in part by the University of Calgary and the School of Creative and Performing Arts, AIBF has been running festivals in Edmonton and Calgary for nearly 50 years. This year the Calgary festival will welcome about 6,000 students from across southern Alberta and Western Canada playing in 200 bands, as well as 100 teachers (many of them UCalgary alumni) and thousands of parents and family supporters. The festival also attracts adjudicators from around the world, who work with participants to add a strong educational component to their performance experience.

The Stampede Showband is just one of those 200 groups, but brings together students from many programs across campus, including engineering, science, kinesiology, and arts. The band spends half of its performance year doing concert music and the other half doing marching band performances. In all, members perform together about 200 times over the year. They started out this year performing in the annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif. on Jan. 1, in front of hundreds of thousands of spectators and millions more on television.

The current conductor for Showband’s concert band work is Gareth Jones, a sessional instructor with the School of Creative and Performing Arts. Together, they will perform a selection of concert music at AIBF on the morning of Sunday, Feb. 24. Spectators are welcome.

AIBF performances take place at three Calgary venues, starting with the concert band showcase at the Rozsa Centre Feb. 20-26. The festival also includes a showcase for jazz bands, Feb. 26-March, 1 at Doherty Hall, Stampede Park and a showcase for novice concert bands, April 24-26, also at Stampede Park. Details at Alberta International Band Festival.