David Garber is a pillar of the Edmonton-area entertainment scene, a musical gardener of sorts who has devoted his life to nurturing the ambitions of young singers and musicians. As the former St. Albert music teacher battles cancer, more than 100 of the area's finest join forces for a benefit concert tomorrow evening at McDougall United Church.
The PreTenors, Edmonton Metropolitan Chorus, Epsilon, 2islandgirls, cellist extraordinaire Martin Kloppers, Pro Coro Canada and VOCE are pouring their hearts into a tightly crafted 90-minute show of support for a dear friend.
“David is one of the nicest individuals I've ever met. He affects people in a positive way, and for me personally he's believed in me from day one. He's always had faith in me, and I've looked for any chance to return the favour,” says organizer Kieran Martin Murphy, front man for The PreTenors. His relationship with Garber goes back several decades when they both sang in VOCE and Pro Coro.
This concert has greater ramifications than pure emotional support. “When you're a self-employed musician it's tough. When you take two months off for treatment, there's no money coming in. And as artists we have to rally when the going gets tough. As contract players we don't have a safety net,” explains Murphy.
Born in Ohio and raised in Edmonton, Garber has been an influential member of the area's choral community for more than 30 years. He's worked with every choir in the area, and most recently swung the baton as artistic director and principal conductor of Edmonton Metropolitan Chorus.
An award winning public school teacher, he taught at both Sir George Simpson Junior High and W.D. Cuts Junior High in the 1990s.
Now retired from the public school board since 2005, Gerry Buccini was assistant principal at W.D. Cuts during Garber's tenure.
“He was one of the finest music music teachers I ever worked with. He just had a great program. Kids loved to be in his class and we had some memorable band trips over the years.”
In one trip to Maple Ridge, B.C. where Buccini was a chaperone, he recalls, “It was the first time I'd seen as many boys as girls in a choir and they'd sing their hearts out.”
By the time Garber left W.D. Cuts in the late 1990s Buccini estimates half the school was involved in his choirs. Garber's secret was simple.
“He focused on kids enjoying music and learning followed. I don't believe he ever followed the curriculum to a tee. He made music come alive and showed kids that making music was special. You didn't have to be an academic genius or a jock to be good.”
The Saturday concert opens with the latest rendition of VOCE composed of Murphy, Trent Worthington, Orville Cameron and Bruce Cable. “David will be sitting in the audience and we hope he will feel well enough to sing one song,” says Murphy.
Tix on the Square has also made a special provision to accept donations from the community. “And please let everyone know there will be tickets at the door. No one will be turned away.”
David Garber Benefit Concert<br />With The PreTenors, Edmonton Metropolitan Chorus, Epsilon, 2islandgirls, Martin Kloppers, Pro Coro Canada and VOCE<br />Saturday, Feb. 27 at 7:30 p.m.<br />McDougall United Church<br />10025 - 101 Street<br />Tickets: $20. Call 780-420-1757; available online at: www.tixonthesquare.ca or at the door.