Concluding a busy and successful year, G.P. Vanier Band program gives end of season concert

Pam Heckbert conducting G.P. Vanier high school band.
Pam Heckbert conducting G.P. Vanier high school band.

Tom Henihan
Express Staff

The end of season band performance at Vanier was a well attended and enthusiastically received event.

The event ran for about an hour and a half, providing an excellent opportunity for the band members to display their talents and for parents and friends to experience and enjoy the students’ accomplishments.

As band teacher and George P. Vanier vice principal Pam Heckbert, outlined in her introduction to the evening, 2015 – 2016 was an exceptionally busy season that included participating in the Peace River Band Festival where the Grade 7s received a gold classification and grade 8 a red or superior rating.

Vanier Band students also participated in a joint concert with students from Glenmary School in Peace River and on that occasion had an opportunity to play with the Foothills Brass Quintet.

Foothills Brass presents up to 200 events each year in concert halls, universities, schools and churches and along with being dedicated performing artists they are committed to educational activities.

By some of the students own accounts, the opportunity to play with the Foothills Brass was a “very cool” experience.

A particular highlight of Vanier Band’s season was that sixty band members traveled to Vancouver where they received a silver rating at one of the most prestigious band festivals in western Canada. While in Vancouver, the students participated in two band clinics, attended a performance of the Vancouver Orchestra and the musical “Fiddler on the Roof.”

The Grade 7s did a marching band clinic in Grande Prairie and marched through the city and Muskoseepi Park. In route to Grande Prairie, the band took a short detour to perform for students at Ecole Providence in McLennan.

Of course, another important event in the G.P. Vanier was its annual Strike up the Band fundraiser.

“That was our season and it was huge,” said Heckbert. “I could not be more proud, they did a fantastic job.”

Heckbert acknowledged the indispensible contribution of the Band Parents Association, saying that without the association’s assistance that a small school such as G.P. Vanier could not provide the kind of program they offer.

To illustrate the value of every contribution to the program, Heckbert asked those in the audience to put up their hands if they helped their child fundraise, if they encouraged their child to practice, if they chaperoned, donated food, auction items or equipment etc.

“You see we can’t do this without these people. Please note that your participation in this program is integral to its success. And your involvement is just as important as my involvement.”

The evening performance opened with the Grade 7 Band playing a march, the same march they played on their trip to Grande Prairie.

Different Grades in band performed a variety of pieces with themes relating to whales, conservation and music inspired by First Nations history.

An exciting feature of the evening was a performance by junior high student Jessina Goodswimmer who to the accompaniment of the band performed a traditional First Nations dance. The multi-talented Goodswimmer, along with being an accomplished traditional dancer also made the regalia she wore for the performance.

The piece to which Jessina Goodswimmer danced is called “Drums of the Saamis” and was originally commissioned by the Medicine Hat Concert Band Society. The piece evokes the fusion of the First Nations and modern Albertan cultures.

The concert ended with a piece called Canto which was performed by all the band members who had travelled to Vancouver back in April


Jessina Goodswimmer dancing to "Drums of the Saamis."
Jessina Goodswimmer dancing to “Drums of the Saamis.”

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