The Maple Ridge Concert Band (MRCB) has been in existence in the community since 1946! This fact astounds many new musicians who arrive on a Tuesday night for rehearsal to find this community band a cheerful and progressive group that is constantly looking to the future with fresh ideas and eager members working diligently to improve their musical standards. The moto “Life Long Musical Enjoyment” is taken to heart here.
Past conductor, Ed Dumas (retired band teacher at Maple Ridge Secondary School), recalls when he played as a young trumpet player with the MRCB back in the late 1970’s. Back then, the band rehearsed above the old fire hall which was located near 224th Street and Lougheed Highway. Floyd Johnson and Bob Brown were the conductors at the time (Mr. Brown was the band teacher at Maple Ridge Secondary School back then).
There was a hiatus when the band did not rehearse for several years, and then like a phoenix bird, the band rose from the ashes. Several founding members came together to revive the band in the late 1980’s. Since then, from its humble beginnings, the band has grown and flourished. The Maple Ridge Concert Band registered as a non-profit society in 1991.
The band participated in several community band festivals in Courtenay/Comox, Revelstoke, and Williams Lake in the early 1990s and reciprocated by hosting a large 2 day community band festival in the 224th Street Peace Park on several makeshift stages. The band realized the need for a permanent outdoor concert venue when they began their summer series of Twilight Tuesday Pops in the Park concerts. The band was spurred on to “make it happen” and with the support of mayor Belle Morse, the plans were drawn up and work began.
In 1994 the Maple Ridge Concert Band completed building the Memorial Peace Park Bandstand and on May 7, 1994 they donated it to the Municipality of Maple Ridge. Trombone player Tom Walker, a structural design engineer, designed the bandstand with sound control specifications high on the priority list. Performers and audience members alike will see the multi-facetted ceiling panels designed to reflect sound and help eliminate the “slap back” effect that is often experienced in similar structures. Always conscious of the scenic surroundings of Maple Ridge, Tom’s design plans also included a copper roof (similar to the roof on the Victoria Parliament Buildings) that would gather a natural green patina. Many band members volunteered in the construction of the bandstand with various community members and organizations contributing time, in-kind and financial donations to the effort. Today, the structure stands in the centre of Maple Ridge as an integral part of the many functions that are held there. 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the building of the bandstand and the band marked the occasion with a Bandstand Birthday Bash on Saturday, June 14, 2014.
In 2007 the Maple Ridge Concert Band hosted an Australian Community Band and for several years, in conjunction with Thomas Haney Secondary School’s band program, many members of the Maple Ridge Concert Band hosted Japanese band exchange students when they came to the school during the Easter break to learn English and experience our west coast wilderness.
The band has participated in festivals in various cities in the province over the years winning high praise and hardware (trophies and medals) for their efforts. The band regularly marches in local parades, performs at civic functions such as Remembrance Day and Canada Day and members are often called upon by other community groups to collaborate in the production of various events such as the Sunshine for Kids baseball season opening ceremonies and the Burnaby Horseman’s Christmas open house. The band performs 2 formal concerts a year with a varied musical repertoire. The less formal Twilight Tuesday Pops in the Park summer series allows the band to “disco down” to ABBA tunes, conga line through the square to Colonel Bogey on Parade, rejoice in musical standards like the Sound of Music and swing to the toe tapping beats of Little Brown Jug.
The band has organized several retreats at Loon Lake over the years for members to rejuvenate and participate in workshops with guest conductors and special clinicians.
Recent growth of the band with the addition of an Adult Beginning Concert (ABC) Band and an Intermediate Concert Band has added a wonderful new dynamic to the group.