On Monday, April 3, at 7:30 p.m., the Big Band show rounded out MacEwan Music Month, a month-long event that went on over the course of March and into the start of April.
The show was directed by Raymond Baril and Jerrold Dubyk, and marked the capper to the 2016/17 music season put on by the MacEwan music department. It also served as the final production the department held at the John L. Haar Theatre.
The show was one filled with energy and excitement. The venue was packed full, and all the students appeared to be having a great time on stage.
The night that marked the closing of the theatre was filled with reminiscence and a clear love of music. People who’d been involved in the founding of the music program at MacEwan came on stage to play with Band I, and it was really enjoyable to see up-and-coming musicians play with established ones.
The genres of music played ranged from blues and jazz to salsa, and the variety established lots of energy during the concert. The musicians all got chances to shine, as each song featured a different section of the band, and usually a specific artist. These sections of the show allowed the audience to really hear each instrument and the role it plays in a big band, which was a nice touch for any music newbies in the crowd.
The higher energy songs, like the cha-cha performed by Band II, and the final song by Band I really filled the theatre with exuberance, and the audience clapped along, while the band itself danced in their seats.
The show did, however, have a slight melancholy note near the end. There were multiple speeches made about the CFAC campus and in particular, the John L. Haar Theatre, which has been sold to the City of Edmonton. The CFAC students will be coming to join the City Centre Campus in the fall, which will mean a change of environment for the music and other fine arts departments. The speeches led to a final performance where both bands played together on stage.
The grand finale was the only part of the concert that hit a sour note. The two bands joined together with an a cappella group and three singers to perform “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke.
The performance was done beautifully. Given the that the song was an anthem for the Civil Rights Movement, however, it seemed a rather melodramatic and inappropriate choice to use a song with this context to perform a goodbye to a campus. After all, the change in question is just moving across Stony Plain.
Other than the final song choice, in which the performance by the students was amazing, the show was fantastic. Live music is always an experience, and listening to big bands is an experience that’s highly recommendable. When the Big Band show comes to City Centre Campus next year, it’s almost sure to be a show that will be worth attending.
Cover photo supplied.