Royal Canadian Artillery Band lifts the holiday spirit

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PREVIEW
A Christmas Celebration with the Royal Canadian Artillery Band
Benefits the Edmonton Garrison Military Family Resource Centre
Friday, Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m.
Winspear Centre
4 Sir Winston Churchill Square
Tickets: Free at the door, first come, first served

The 11th annual A Christmas Celebration with the Royal Canadian Artillery Band takes over the Winspear Centre this coming Friday night.

Enjoying an international reputation for its sophisticated musicianship and smart uniforms, the Royal Canadian Artillery Band ramps up the seasonal spirit with an effervescent benefit concert in support of the Edmonton Garrison Military Family Resource Centre.

The RCA Band is composed of 35 professional musicians who also perform in a variety of groups and ensembles. One of the highly popular jazz ensembles, The Rhythm Gunners, also steps out of the shadows and swings into the groove with a special presentation.

“We’re going to have a variety of music for all ages. But there will be a little more focus for kids. That’s important. When families come and see how their kids enjoy the concert, everybody goes home with a smile,” said RCA Band conductor Capt. Chris Embree, also the father of a 10-year-old son.

Embree and the band are making sure that the more than 2,000 civilian and military personnel who work to support the missions of the 3rd Canadian Support Base are recognized.

“This is a way to give back and say thank you and bring some holiday cheer,” Embree said.

Last year Sgt. Kenneth Pearce’s reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas with children sitting on stage surrounding him was a mega hit and will return on Friday.

“That was the best part of the concert. Everyone was all smiles. We just had to make sure the little ones weren’t too close to the edge of the stage so they wouldn’t fall off,” chuckled Embree.

Sgt. Greg Moffat performs a flugelhorn solo for the well-liked chestnut Have Yourself a Merry Christmas.

“This piece really shows the talents of Sgt. Moffat. He’s a fine trumpet and flugelhorn player, and this piece is very mellow, light jazz.”

A Christmas concert practically demands the more old-fashioned charmers such as Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride and Vince Guaraldi’s A Charlie Brown Christmas.

“When we were kids, we grew up watching Peanuts and Charlie Brown on TV. Kids love love the music and adults do too.”

Bombardier Lucas Denneboom shifts the concert’s mood to the sweet golden era of classics singing The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On an Open Fire), a song written by Mel Torme in 1945 and popularized a year later by the silky-voiced Nat King Cole.

“He (Denneboom) came to the band about two years ago and he’s one of my percussionists. But we discovered he’s a really good vocalist as well.”

As a special treat, the RCA Band also plays a mashup of instrumental music from the Robert Zemeckis-directed Polar Express.

“It’s a well-rounded concert program for all ages. It’s the pinnacle and it doesn’t get any better.”

Free tickets tickets are available at the door while supplies last. A donation table in support of the Edmonton Garrison Military Family Resource Centre will be set up in the lobby. Volunteers are also selling Yellow Ribbon Christmas ornaments in support of troops.

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Anna Borowiecki

Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.