Thrilling debut for Wallaceburg Concert Band

Cars were parked around the entire Wallaceburg District Secondary School property for the public debut of the Wallaceburg Concert Band on Tuesday.

“It went amazingly well from our perspective,” Dave Babbitt, the musical director for the group, told the Sydenham Current.

“The crowd itself was overwhelming actually. I expected a fair number of people to come, just based on people stopping me on the street… but until you see the whites of their eyes, I mean I have heard stories like that before, but it was an overwhelming crowd.”

Babbitt said in terms of the band playing, he thought they did a tremendous job.

“We played everything we know. There was a few little issues that we had internally. Little things we could improve upon, there is no doubt about that but from the public perspective most people probably wouldn’t know any of the major flaws that we had,” he said.

“I was thrilled. I keep using that term, but with the people that played, both the beginner band and the advanced band. I had a lot of comments about how nice it was to hear the beginners and I was surprised about how many comments I got about that.”

Babbitt said their group has gotten amazing monetary support, since forming last spring. Read our original story here from last year.

He said a $20,000 grant from MusiCounts Canada was an incredible boost, along with thousands of dollars from various other grants.

“It is a lot of money, but I will tell you, it is easy to spend when you know a baritone sax costs $5,000,” he said.

He said even more people have expressed an interest in joining the group, which sits at about 85 members.

“We have some potential members moving to town, looking for a place to play. So the future looks rosy,” he said.

“This is really going against the grain of most community bands, which are failing as oppose to growing. They are falling by the wayside. There is great opportunities here too to do other things too. The big band is sort of my favourite musical formula and I would really like to get this sub stage band going too… you just want to grow it. That’s what I want to do.”

Babbitt said he cannot express enough gratitude to the members of the band and the organization, along with the community overall.

“There is great seats in the auditorium, and I’m right smack dab in the middle of it and those people they play, and I am not kidding you, sometimes when they play it gives me goosebumps,” he said.

“When things are cooking, things are on, and everything is working… it is the greatest team sport on the planet. People have no idea how difficult it is to coordinate all of those different sounds and to be able to read. There is so much that goes into playing those instruments. It is a hard thing.”

Babbitt added: “So, the gratitude for everybody in this community that stepped up to the plate. There is a bunch of people out there that I am looking for that I know are good musicians that have played before that could really help out and it could be even better.”

He said the band is set to take the summer off and a Christmas-themed show later in the year is a possibility.

Here are some photos from Tuesday’s performance:

– Photo credit: Aaron Hall

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