History of the Northdale Concert Band

The Northdale Concert Band was formed in 1967 by a group of music students who met and first played instrumental music together at Willowdale Junior High School, in the Toronto neighbourhood of Willowdale. Upon graduating from junior high school, all of the students went on to Northview Heights Secondary School, and along with other interested music students, formed the band. The name Northdale came from the names of these two schools. Ted Graham and Wayne Moss were two music teachers who took on the band, held rehearsals once a week, and gave concerts open to the public.

Through the years, there have been many fine Northdale conductors, including: Ted Graham (1967-69), Chris Kitts (1969-71), Bill Martyn (1972-74), Ray Johnson (1974-76), John Fautley (l976), Carl Hammond (1976-84), James McKay (1984-88), Howard Cable/Bobby Herriot (l988-89), John Herberman (l989-90), Mark Hopkins (1990-94). Various guest conductors have included: Howard Alexander, Diana Brault, Stephen Chenette, Richard Chodolak, Bernard H. Clark, John Darraugh, Derek Demierre, Gary Kulesha, Bill Martyn, Jeff Mason, George McCrae, Bruce McGregor, Michael Newnham, John O'Brien and Christopher Weait. Stephen Chenette, Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Music, at the University of Toronto was the conductor from 1996 until 2010.

The Band became an adult group, and none of its original members remain. However, the Band has its roots in the community, and has developed into a skilled group of dedicated amateurs and many music professionals. A number of the members have been with the group for several decades! All are volunteers. Many members play and teach music professionally, others teach music in the elementary and secondary schools and others are students in the music faculties of York University or the University of Toronto. Other members are in varied careers, but all come out reliably to rehearse and perform in various community venues. The Band regularly performs in seniors' homes, churches, fundraising events and has a yearly summer concert in Orillia, Ontario on the shores of Lake Couchiching.

A unique aspect of Northdale Concert Band is the music publishing venture known as Northdale Music Press Limited. The project of issuing new works by Canadian composers for concert band began with Ontario Arts Council funding in 1985 when six new works were commissioned by Northdale Concert Band. The Band traveled to Expo '86 in Vancouver and performed the world premiere of these compositions at the Canada and Ontario Pavilions. The scope of publication has increased and today Northdale Music Press publishes compositions for other ensembles, including brass band, stage band and wind octet.

The Band members enjoy playing for themselves and performing for audiences with guest singers, jazz ensembles, instrumental soloists and choirs. The versatility of the group makes Northdale Concert Band a crowd pleasing ensemble for audiences of all ages and musical tastes.

L. Rosenfield
September, 2002

An article by Stephen Chenette on the history of the Northdale Concert Band was published in the Spring 2010 edition of the Canadian Band Association's journal "Canadian Winds" and is available here


Northdale Concert Band 2008