One of the surefire markers of the holiday season is the annual A Christmas Celebration With the Royal Canadian Artillery Band concert this coming Friday at the Winspear Centre.
Along with special guests, musicians have rehearsed a program of Christmas chestnuts and holiday favourites that showcase the pageantry and pride of performance the band is renowned for.
The professional military band performs as a 38-piece, brass-reed concert band. In addition, they break up into smaller configurations. This concert will also showcase the Jazz Big Band: The Rhythm Gunners and the Trombone Quartet as well as vocalist Bombardier Lucas Denneboom.
“It is more of a chance for the RCA Band to give back to the community. We’re going to kick off the holiday season and get people thinking of spending the time with friends and family,” said Capt. Christopher Embree.
Embree begins the concert with John Wasson’s jubilant Festival Fanfare for Christmas. Originally composed for full orchestra, it starts with a brilliant fanfare for brass and blossoms into a showcase for O Come All Ye Faithful and Joy to the World.
“Hopefully Sgt. Paul Richey will be able to use the Davis organ,” Embree noted.
The band is also performing a medley of Christmas classics as well as the Carol of the Drum (Little Drummer Boy), a seasonal lullaby that grew into one of the most popular Christmas percussion-based carols of all time.
For the children, the band is playing the theme from Home Alone Christmas and ’Twas the Night Before Christmas with narration from Sgt. Ken Pearce.
“He does such a fine job. He has an incredible voice and knows how to engage the kids for sure.”
Embree adds that a Christmas concert wouldn’t feel complete without a version of Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride or Let the Bells Ring based on Carol of the Bells.
For this concert, pipe major Sgt. Jim Douglas is stashing away his bagpipes and pulling out the shuttle pipes. Shuttle pipes are a smaller, softer version of the Scottish highland bagpipes.
“It’s got more of a Celtic jazz fusion mix. There is bass, drum, keyboard and shuttle pipes.”
The 18-piece Rhythm Gunners plan to jazz it up playing This Christmas, a version similar to Harry Connick Jr.’s Christmas album. Denneboom adds his vocal stylings to this piece.
The big band also plays a slightly different interpretation of O Holy Night.
“It’s really special, very nice, smooth and graceful. It features horn and flugelhorn and breaks away from the traditional.
Embree adds that, “It’s our pleasure to come and play especially at such a fantastic venue as the Winspear. We just hope everyone will come out to the concert with their family and friends.”
Free concert tickets can be picked up at the door on a first come, first served basis. Although the concert is no-charge, donations will be accepted for the Edmonton Garrison Family Resource Centre.
A Christmas Celebration With the Royal Canadian Artillery Band
Friday, Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m.
4 Sir Winston Churchill Square
Free admission, first come, first served