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History of the Band
The Greater Windsor Concert Band was formed in September 1997 by Ric Moor. He recognized a need in the community for a traditional wind ensemble - not only for audiences, but also for those adult musicians in town looking for a place to enjoy their hobby. At that time, Ric invited many of the people he knew would be interested, and began holding Wednesday night rehearsals with a small group of about 12 musicians.
Our first practices were held at Villanova High School, borrowing music, drum equipment, music stands, etc. from friends and contacts in the Windsor music scene. By Christmas, we had put together a respectable concert and performed our first successful show.
Over the next few years, we moved the rehearsals to a number of different locations, including Community of Christ Church on Howard, St. Anne's High School, the Hellenic Banquet Hall, Bedford United Church, the Knights of Columbus Hall in South Windsor. In 2002, we moved to our present location, St. Mark's Anglican Church on Tecumseh Road West.
Within a short time, the group began to grow in size, and soon we had around 35 musicians involved. We experimented with different types of concerts, venues and repertoires, and we still are happy to try something new, as the opportunities come up. Thanks to the Ontario Trillium Foundation and our own fundraising efforts, we now own much of our own equipment and sheet music.
One of the band's more memorable concerts featured the world premier of the millennial march "Janus" which was commissioned of Dr. Jens Hanson, exclusively for our group. Other performances have included Canada Day celebrations, a Dieppe Memorial fundraising concert, Halloween concerts, Christmas concerts, and numerous county festivals.
We have been doing free summer park concerts from the start and continue to do these each year. At first we performed in the gazebo in Lanspeary Park and now we can be seen at Reaume Park a few Sunday nights each summer and out in the county here and there.
Also, since the inception of the band, we've been playing at church services in the Windsor and Essex County area approximately once a month, using a smaller ensemble of about 20 players.
In October 2004 the band competed, for the first time, in the Canadian Band Association competition in Toronto. Although we didn't win, it was definitely a worthwhile experience. The group received valuable tips and insight from the adjudicators, and gained experience dealing with the pressure of being judged.
Another exciting type of concert we have is called the "Spectacle of Winds". Each spring from 2003 until 2007 we invited a community band from another city to perform a co-concert with us at the Capitol Theatre. Guest bands have included the Missisauga Pops, the Chatham Concert Band, Encore - the Concert Band (London, Ontario band), the Stratford Concert Band. Because of the 2007 closure of the Capitol Theatre we moved this concert to the St. Clair Centre for the Arts (formerly the Cleary International Centre), which suited us well since Spectacle of Winds 2007 was our first international event. We were joined on stage in 2007 by the Clarkston Community Band from Clarkston Michigan.
On October 20th, 2007 our band celebrated it's 10th anniversary by performing a Gala Concert in Windsor's beautiful Assumption Chapel to rave reviews. The band's performance was sensational and we were joined on stage by some prominent guest performers from the Windsor area - saxophonist Gil Grossutti, trumpeter Brian Zanier, and organist Dr. Ruth Lavery-Medd. Grossutti, a retired teacher, is a prominent jazz player and longtime orchestra leader. Zanier is a music teacher at Assumption College High School and performs regularly with the Windsor Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Lavery-Medd who sadly passed away in August of 2007, was a professor at the University of Windsor and the long standing organist at Windsor's Central United Church. Our band's first CD was released at an after-glow reception following the concert.
In February of 2008, the Greater Windsor Concert Band became the first Canadian band ever to be invited to perform at the Red Cedar Festival of Community Bands in Okemos, Michigan. The band's outstanding performance was extremely well received and the adjudicator commented that the music selections performed were at such a high level of difficulty that our Music Director must be fearless.
November of 2009 kicked off with a spectacular concert which featured the very talented bluegrass group "Key of G", a group which is formed by Mr. Gabe Gagnon and his entire family. Audiences still speak of that to this day.
Stephen Bulla's "Rhapsody for Flute" was the highlight of a March of 2010 concert in which the GWCB performed the piece with guest flute soloist Dr. Jonathan G. Bayley.
The GWCB was also very honoured in April of 2010, to help kick off a week-long celebration for the 100th Anniversary of the Canadian Navy. The HMCS Hunter hosted a massed band performance where we joined musical forces with the Windsor Regiment Band, the band of the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps Agamemnon, the Silver Ambassadors Concert Band and dancers from the Cornell School of Dance.
The highlight of our 2011 season must have been the international co-concert that we performed with our Lake Orion Michigan friends from the North Oakland Concert Band. The concert which we titled "Hand in Hand" featured musical tributes to such greats as Louis Armstrong, Earth Wind and Fire, John Philip Sousa, and music from Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess" amougst other great pieces.
The band continues to maintain a full schedule throughout the year with formal indoor concerts in the fall, at Christmas time, and in the spring and our summer park concert series remain very popular with the audiences. The band rehearses weekly at St. Mark's Anglican Church in Windsor.