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Gower Band Recognizes 10th and 20th Anniversaries

The word “Gala” is synonymous with “celebration”, and this year’s GCB Fall Gala on Sunday, October 22, 2017 was truly something to celebrate! In fact, it was many things to celebrate!

It was the 10th anniversary of the unique Terra Nova Program rewarding young composers at Memorial University’s School of Music for creative excellence in composing for concert bands. Launched in 2007, the initiative was designed to encourage composition students to take on the challenge of composing for large ensembles, specifically concert bands at the high school level, because there was relatively little being written for that genre in this province. In the past 10 years, more than 60 works have been submitted to the Program, and 22 of them have won awards. Some of the major works were selected for reprise performance in the GCB Terra Nova Fall Gala Concert. Cause for celebration!

It was the 20th anniversary of the Gower Community Band itself. In 1997, while preparing for the 25th anniversary year (1998) of the Gower Youth Band with performances and reunions involving hundreds of former GYB members, it became obvious that a need existed to provide adult musicians with an opportunity to continue their musical experience and maintain their commitment to community service through music. So in April of 1997, a group of GYB alumni met for a “fun” practice to determine the level of interest in a Community Band proposal. The rest is history. Both GYB and GCB continued for the next 10 years as separate units which often joined forces for special events and performances, but it became obvious as society changed in an era of 21st-century technology and challenges in industry, education, and family life, that the future for community groups lay in intergenerational activity. So it was that the two bands merged, successfully and seamlessly, under the inclusive banner of “Community” in 2008. Today’s band welcomes members from 11 years of age to the mid-80s, working and playing together in a family atmosphere. Cause for celebration!

We have now entered into our 45th year as a non-denominational community outreach music program. In the fall of 1973, Gower Street United Church accepted a proposal to restructure its small church band (The Gower Street United Church Youth Band) into a larger concert band that would welcome members from all churches (or no churches!), provide instruments and training as required at no cost, and give that new group the mission and mandate for community service which is maintained to this very day. On November 1, 2017, the Gower Band Program entered its 45th year of service, with 60 active musicians and more than 500 alumni, and will soon mark its 1000th performance. Cause for celebration!

Gower bands have experienced many historic milestones and exciting achievements in its community music program. But among our proudest moments was the presentation at a GCB Dinner on October 19, 2017 of Distinguished Service Awards recognizing members who have given, and still give, commendable time to community service through the Gower Band Program. In our current membership, we honor 34 musicians who received awards: 4 Gold Awards (30 years and over), 14 Silver Awards (20-29 years), and 16 Bronze Awards (10-19 years). Cause for celebration! We look forward to more milestones and even greater opportunities for community service in the years to come.