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Two St. Albert bands usher in a spring serenade

The St. Albert Community Band and Saint City Big Band's concert Spring Stories reflects on how music inspires
St. Albert Community Concert Band reunites for its season finale on Wednesday, June 5 at the Arden Theatre.

Spring has arrived and it’s that time of year when St. Albert Community Concert Band and Saint City Big Band close a chapter with a concert on Wednesday, June 5 at the Arden Theatre. 

Under the direction of Kyle Swenson, the community concert band of 80-plus members has steadily rehearsed a world of enchanting melodies and rhythmic masterpieces to celebrate the changing season. 

Aptly titled Spring Stories, Swenson hopes to captivate the audience’s senses with Nubia Jaime-Donjuan’s Canadian premiere of Little Mexican Suite. Jaime-Donjuan is a cellist and composer from Sonora, Mexico. A musician with considerable heft in Mexico’s music scene, she is the founder of Sonora Philharmonic Orchestra, where she serves as co-principal cellist. 

“She’s starting to become known on a global level with the advent of Little Mexican Suite. Her husband is a bass player. Her son is a musician. She’s a very passionate person and shares her love of growing up in Mexico through her music,” said Swenson. 

Little Mexican Suite is a four-movement composition inspired by her country’s landscape and variety of trees. Each movement is flavoured with the trees’ personalities. 

“Each one of the trees she picked played a significant role in her life and they are her childhood memories. If you close your eyes, you can hear all the sounds of Mexico,” Swenson said. 

For instance, the first movement’s music is borrowed from Ahuehuete, a giant tree growing in Oaxaca full of colours and textures. The second movement is titled Ayacahuite, a Mexican pine tree that is large and powerful. The third movement is Sahuaro inspired by a forest of Sahuaro cactuses growing near her home. And the last movement is Ceiba, sparked by trees growing in Mexico’s tropical regions.  

A fundamental part of Jaime-Donjuan's artistic work is incorporating traditional Mexican folk music such as a danzón or a son jarocho into her classical compositions. This results in a wave of light brushstrokes that range from the sexy and flirty to romantic and serene.  

The community band opens with the majestic flourishes of a fanfare followed by Karl King’s The Viking March specifically written for Barnum and Bailey Circus. Swenson has also included the dramatic Apollo Myth and Legend as well as The Winged Stallion, a piece full of tuneful melodies and soaring woodwinds. The band finishes with Randall Standridge’s eight-minute Animation. 

“It’s all the classic sounds you’d hear on Looney Tunes or any other type of cartoon.”  

And while spring concerts tend to evoke a mellow vibe, the Saint City Big Band will play a series of fast-paced jazz charts. 

Music director Brian Demuynck has programmed an eclectic repertoire of jazz standards starting with Lazy River, an up-tempo number that is anything but lazy. There’s Miles Davis’ Joshua and La Llama Azul (The Blue Flame), an outstanding Latin chart that is really hot and features a duet for alto sax and trumpet. 

“This one is very lively. Many of the charts Brian picked are toe-tapping and fast paced.”  

This concert is dedicated to Karen McGale Connelly, a former member who passed away in March due to cancer. A member since 2015, she was Master of Ceremony at the band’s December concert. 

The band wishes to honour her contributions with a raffle. The proceeds collected during the concert will be donated to the Cross Cancer Institute, where she spent many hours receiving treatment. 

“She was so passionate about life, and her passing was really hard on us.” 

Spring Stories starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are adults $15, students $10. Call the Arden box office at 780-459-1542 or online at 

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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