Musical merge makes history

·3 min read

Music history was made as two of the area’s oldest performing groups came together for the unprecedented performance of Dreams of Flight and Sky. Combined, the Penticton Concert Band and the Naramata Community Choir have operated for more than 150 years, but had never played alongside each other, until now. With only one rehearsal under their belts, the two groups joined in front of a full house at the iconic Penticton United Church Saturday and, according to audience response afterwards, they didn’t disappoint.

The evening kicked off with the choir performing four songs and the band picking up after the intermission for a set of their own. Then it was the moment of truth as the choir members joined the musicians at the front of the large main room. Choir artistic director Justin Glibbery was at the very front of the nearly 90 performers and Dave Brunelle was in the middle conducting the band. “I love that, having all that raw power at your fingertips, but it also feels like you’re strapped to the cowcatcher on the front of a train sometimes and you just hope it goes in the right direction, but it really was amazing. I had a great time,” said Glibbery who has been with the Naramata choir for a dozen years and is a musician in his own right. “There was just such a positive vibe. It’s an exciting, refreshing and invigorating feeling.” For Brunelle the idea of such a combined concert was something he had been kicking around for a number of years. “Justin and I have been good friends for a long time and I just thought this would be a cool idea,” said the conductor, who added he was particularly proud to be part of the history-making performance. “The hard part was the logistics of having 35 of us on stage with band instruments, music stands and the percussion gear and how we’re going to put 50 choir members in front of us and hoping the audience could still see the band and balance the sound so the band was not overpowering the choir.”

During the only rehearsal the week before, Brunelle, in his ninth season with the band, left the stage to get an idea of the balance needed and do some fine tuning for the big night. According to Glibbery some of his choir members were still concerned about not being able to hear themselves over the band at rehearsal however that changed at the concert itself. “Having all those people (audience) in the church the choir could actually hear themselves, it was exponentially improved and they knocked it out of the park,” he said. The show itself was so successful when the directors debriefed after the concert they agreed on one thing. “We decided to make it an annual event in March,” said Brunelle, who added they may look at a larger venue in the future or running the show over two nights to accommodate more audience members. The band performs most of its major events at the United Church. “This is a major fundraiser for the church because their congregation is shrinking and they are having trouble maintaining their finances,” said Brunelle. “They (church members) do the front of the house and the cleaning up afterwards so they get 25 percent of the gate and that’s important. They look after us very well.”

Mark Brett, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Penticton Herald