Regiment band leader in Saint John stepping down after 38 years

Regiment band leader in Saint John stepping down after 38 years

After 38 years with the 3rd Field Artillery Regiment Band in Saint John, director Mike Molloy is heading into retirement.

But first, he'll direct one last concert at Stone Church on April 17, honouring those who fought at Vimy, and featuring a number of selections that will also be released on the band's new CD.

Some of the regiment members have already left for France to take part in Vimy ceremonies, including the centenary on April 9.

That's why the concert date is later, to accommodate them.

"I'm very pleased with the program," said Molloy, with a laugh. "It's everything I like in a band concert and I'm the boss ... for now."

The band has a long history in Saint John. It was formed in 1948, and over the years has played for Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip as well as Prince Charles and the late Princess of Wales.

It has 30 members, including high school and university students, and volunteer musicians who have been around for decades.

Military music always in his life

Molloy said the military and its music is something that's been with him all his life.

"It's like air. It's so natural," he said. "My father was very active in the reserves in Newfoundland. He was the commanding officer of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.

"On top of that, my grandfather — my mother's father — was one of the survivors of the Battle of Beaumont-Hamel."

Only 68 of the 800 Newfoundlanders who entered that battle were able to answer roll call the following morning.

This is not Molloy's first retirement. He stepped down from teaching music at Harbour View High School in 2013.

The compulsory age for retirement in the Canadian Armed Forces, including regular forces and reservists is 60 years old, and Molloy turns 60 near the end of April.

Change of command

However, he said he's made peace with moving on and has confidence in his successor, Samantha Parent.

The concert will include an official change of command.

Molloy said retirement from the band will simply free up his Monday nights. He's got other projects going, including his organ music.

He's planning a series of organ concerts for the centennial of the armistice in 2018. He'll also stay active organizing the Fundy Sound choral festival.

Admission is free to the Vimy Ridge Memorial Concert. Showtime is 7:30 pm.

Molloy said the band will debut a new march composed by Gunner David Cooper.

"To me, there's nothing as stirring as a good and well-written and well-played march."