Some 35 members of Western’s Don Wright Faculty of Music New Horizons Band are preparing for a tour in Poland, with stops in Wroclaw and Warsaw from July 2 to 12 to perform five free concerts. The trip marks the band’s seventh trip to Europe since 2005 and its first to Poland.
“We’ve played throughout several parts of Europe but Poland was a place with well-preserved medieval sites and that few of our members had visited,” said band spokesperson Mark Kearney. “It should make for an exciting and interesting 10 days.”
Band members have been rehearsing since early May and will give local audiences a taste of their repertoire at a free concert at the Upper Queens Park Bandshell near the Festival Theatre in Stratford June 29 at 6:45 p.m.
“These performances give us a chance to test our readiness for our audiences,’ said Kearney. “We’re playing a range of music, with some classical pieces, including Prelude No. 20 by Chopin, who was from Poland, standards such as Anything Goes and Happy Days Are Here Again, Canadian Folk Fantasy and The Maple Leaf Forever.”
The New Horizons Band is open to adult musicians of any skill level, including absolute beginners. Those going on tour have five or more years’ experience. Many band members, several of whom are Western employees or alumni who have toured different parts of Europe in the previous visits, are returning this time.
The New Horizons Band started in 1999 as a way of allowing adults to learn music and play in a concert band with like-minded people. The concept was the result of a groundbreaking course by Roy Ernst, a professor at the University of Rochester, N.Y. Eastman School of Music, in the early 1990s and has spread across North America and to other countries overseas. The London New Horizons Band was the first one in Canada and is among the largest in existence.