Where in the world is the Showband headed next?

The Calgary Stampede Showband is thrilled to announce that they will be travelling to compete in the World Music Contest (WMC) in Kerkrade, The Netherlands in summer 2017. WMC is the Olympics of music taking place over four weeks from Thursday, July 6 – Sunday, July 30, 2017. The event will feature more than 260 musical ensembles and 20,000 individual musicians. The Showband will be leaving right after Stampede to compete in the marching show band class on Sunday, July 30 against 60 other marching show bands from around the globe.

Photo credit: Kien Le

The Showband is a youth performance ensemble that rehearses and performs year round. Photo credit: Kien Le.

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Why colour guard is the unexpected sport your child should try this year

When you’re wondering what sport or activity your child should try this year, colour guard usually isn’t the first thing that comes to mind – but it should be! Colour guard is what we call the group of athletes/performers/dancers that twirl flags and toss (fake) rifles in front of marching bands. They’re extremely impressive but no one really knows how to join a colour guard, how you learn those skills, or what the colour guard does when they aren’t leading a parade. To answer these questions and more, the Escalade Winter Guard Association is hosting a colour guard Youth Development Camp this month, providing beginner instruction in dance, flag, and rifle skills – perfect for youth of all ages! Plus, if your tween/teen likes it, they can sign up to join the Calgary Round Up Band or Calgary Stetson Show Band this season. Still not convinced? We’ve got 8 reasons your kid should give colour guard a try this summer:

1. They don’t call it the “sport of the arts” for nothing! Colour guard is called the “sport of the arts” because it brings music to life through performance in a competitive format. Performers demonstrate skill, agility, strength and endurance through choreographed movement, dance and use of props set to music to tell a story. Every season, colour guards rehearse several times a week to prepare for competitions. They make it look easy, but it takes a huge amount of skill to gracefully spin and toss colour guard equipment.

The Stampede Showband is an auditioned group for youth ages 16-21. Taylor Fraser, pictured here, is preparing to toss her "rifle" into the air, so it'll spin six times, and then catch it. Photo: End Credits

The Stampede Showband is an auditioned group for youth ages 16-21. Taylor Fraser, pictured here, is preparing to toss her “rifle”. It’ll spin in the air, and she’ll catch it without missing a beat. Photo: End Credits.

The coaches and instructors are seasoned veterans who have performed and competed at the highest levels. Many of the instructors with Calgary’s colour guard ensembles performed with the Calgary Stampede Showband and Drum Corps International (DCI) ensembles, and continue to compete in local elite ensembles like Escalade. Continue reading

Stampede Showband Spirit South of the Border

Over the past week and a half, the Calgary Stampede Showband has been travelling through the Midwest USA sharing the Calgary Stampede’s unique brand of western hospitality with American marching band and drum corps fans. Arriving back in town just in time for Stampede 2016, the Showband has been hard at work preparing for Showband’s Live! and showcasing what they can do for some new audiences. Here’s a look at where they’ve been and what they accomplished!

Local audiences can see "In Pursuit" at Showbands Live! during Stampede 2016 at McMahon Stadium on July 10 and 12, 2016.

Local audiences can see “In Pursuit” at Showbands Live! during Stampede 2016 at McMahon Stadium on July 10 and 12, 2016.

5 Five Fan Favourite Awards at the Vikingland Band Festival

If marching bands are your favourite part of a parade, you would LOVE this three day event  in Alexandria, Minnesota. Showband performed in exhibition and took home fan favourite awards for drum feature, horn soloist, prop design and the Cardinal Spirit Award.

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An Ode to the Band of Outriders

The Calgary Stampede Band of Outriders was formed in 1991 and is known for sharing their musical version of western hospitality to local crowds and thousands of Calgary visitors every day during the 10-day Stampede. Andrea Khoury, an Outriders alumna and founding member of the band, wrote this poem to celebrate the Outriders’ 25th anniversary. Enjoy!

There are strange things done in the name of fun by the geeks who toil in the band.

The Stampede trails have the oddest tales that have traveled throughout the land.

The midway lights have seen great sights but the greatest they ever did see

Was the group that was formed, out of old drums and horns, by people like you and me.

The Band of Outriders have been entertaining audiences on Stampede park and in the community for 25 years! Yahoo!

The Band of Outriders have been entertaining audiences on Stampede park and in the community for 25 years! Yahoo!

 

Now old Bobby E was from Calgary, where the marching bands twirl and blow.

Why he left his room at the school to groom new musicians we’ll never know.

He started with Round-up, then moved on to Showband with Stetsons to follow in time

And by ninety-one, Mr. Eklund not done, it was time for a new band to shine.

 

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7 Things Musicians (and everyone else) Should Know About Being Around Horses

Since 1985, the Calgary Stampede Showriders have been accompanying the Stampede Showband in parades as a mounted colour guard made up of 12 young riders and their horses. This pairing of horses and marching musicians is unusual and a lot of prep work goes into making sure that the horses are comfortable with the band.

Every year, the Showband and Showriders rehearse together to help desensitize the horses to the craziness of parades, and teach the Showband how to act around horses. It’s a great opportunity for the mostly city-dwelling band members to learn more about agriculture and animal care, especially since the Showband spends a lot of time around animals during the 10-day Calgary Stampede. Here’s a peek at what they learned from the Showriders this year!

Showrider Hannah Braun, 15 years old, and her horse Tokahee teach a group of Showband members about performing around horses.

Showrider Hannah Braun and her horse Tokahee giving a group of Showband members tips for being around horses.

 1. Don’t run through the barns

You don’t want to turn a corner and run into or startle a horse. Don’t jump for the same reason.

2. Use your inside voice

Shouting and screaming can upset horses. Horses are reactive and pick up on the energy of other people an animals around them.

3. Stay a horse length away from a horse’s back-end

That way, even if the horse kicks out, you’ll avoid getting kicked.

Showband member Cassie Groves got to bond with Tohakee, petting the horse from the side so as not to startle the horse.

Showband member Cassie Groves pets Tokahee from the side so that she doesn’t startle the horse.

 4. Ask permission before approaching horses or offering them treats

Sometimes, like with the Showrider “Stand and Pat” events, it’s obvious that you’re welcome to approach a horse. If you’re walking through the barns or see a horse on its own, ask the owner if it’s okay to pet the horse. This is the best way to avoid getting bitten!

5. Approach horses from the side

Horses have blind spots directly in front and behind them. A horse can see you best if you approach from the side and pet their shoulders and back. Plus, if you approach a horse head-on and try to pet its face, it might think your fingers are treats – yikes!

6. Never play instruments while you’re walking through the barns

Sudden movements and unexpected loud noises can startle horses and they might react to the sight of shiny instruments and noise from musical instruments more than you’d expect.

 7. Ask questions

The Showriders love to answer questions about their horses. They spend a lot of time caring for their horses to keep them healthy and happy and are eager to share what they know with others, especially if it helps to keep their horses and others safe.

 

More than music: What it’s like to be a member of the Calgary Stampede Showband

So you want to join the Calgary Stampede Showband? Auditions are coming up on Monday, May 30 and Tuesday, May 31! (Information about how to register here.) The Showband is about a lot more than just music excellence. Want to know what it’s really like? Showband alumni have shared some of their favourite experiences and takeaways from their time in the band to give future members a glimpse of what to expect!

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Showband 2016: In Pursuit

The Calgary Stampede Showband is thrilled to announce its 2016 production, In Pursuit. Inspired by classic heist films and television, the production will take the Showband’s audiences on an intriguing and exciting chase as the band tracks down a stolen briefcase. Check out the quick teaser trailer below!

In Pursuit will feature music including Steve Reich’s “Electric Counterpoint”, John Powell’s “Tangiers”, Paul Lovatt-Cooper’s “Equilibrium”, Adele’s “Skyfall”, and the theme from The Streets of San Francisco. Oscillating between minimalist, comical, and dramatic elements, this production will have a wide emotional range. According to the Calgary Stampede’s Director of Bands Aaron Park, In Pursuit will be both suspenseful and fun. “It’s not necessarily a story about detectives or spies, although it has that same feeling of mystery and intrigue. It’s sort of a ‘catch me if you can’ story; everyone is after the same elusive briefcase and what may be inside. “Electric Counterpoint” is woven throughout the show as a recurring motif to bring out that feeling of pursuit, mystery, and intrigue.”

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John Philip Sousa and the Calgary Stampede Showband

John Philip Sousa, the American conductor and composer who popularized the sousaphone, has a special connection to the Calgary Stampede. The Calgary Stampede Showband is playing Sousa’s “The Thunderer” (1889) as part of its concert band repertoire this year, but the connection doesn’t end there. Sousa and his band, the “Sousa Band” actually visited the Calgary in 1919 and performed at the Calgary Exhibition.

1919_tnSousa’s band toured all over the world following the end of WWI and was exceptionally popular because Sousa had combined everything he liked about other types of ensembles (brass bands, military bands, orchestras, and beer hall bands) to create something different. Photos from the Glenbow Archives show that there was a huge audience when Sousa’s band performed in Calgary. Sousa was known as the “march king” for composing and arranging patriotic marches, so it makes a lot of sense that the Showband and other marching bands continue to play his music.

The Showband performed “The Thunderer” at its annual Celebration Concert earlier this month, and will perform it again when it competes in the Alberta International Band Festival on February 21 at the Rosza Centre. Continue reading

Allie Patch teaches us the importance of learning new things

Allie Patch has been playing trumpet as a member of the Calgary Stampede Showband since 2012. A linguistics major at the University of Calgary, she’s now the Showband’s brass captain, a member of leadership team, and teaches brass to junior high age students in the Calgary Round-Up Band. As a member of the Showband, she rehearses weekly and once a month on weekends for concert band performances and learning the Showband’s summer field show production. In addition to teaching and school work, this makes for a pretty busy schedule! On top of all this, Allie decided to learn color guard this year for the first time and joined Calgary’s prestigious Dynamic Winterguard.

“Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is immerse yourself in something completely different.”

In color guard, often referred to as the “sport of the arts”, performers use props and movement to tell a story with music. Most marching bands and drum corps have a color guard, but many groups perform on their own during the winter season as “winter guards”. Most color guard performers start early, learning and honing their skills in junior high and high school. Allie, an already accomplished musician and third year university student, decided to take up color guard this fall, “After playing so many kinds of instruments growing up, I wanted to try something new. Some things have come easier than others – hard rifle tosses are difficult – but it has been a really fun challenge.”

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Allie, performing with Dynamic Winterguard earlier this season.

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Showband Tour 2016: Midwest USA

What does the Calgary Stampede Showband do the week before the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth? They go on tour across the Midwestern United States of course! This summer, the Showband will travel to perform in Minnesota and Wisconsin from June 24 to July 5, 2016, coming back to Calgary just in time for the 10-day Calgary Stampede.

In 2015, the Showband won "Best in Show" at DCI's SoundSport competition in Indianapolis.

In 2015, the Showband won “Best in Show” at DCI’s SoundSport competition in Indianapolis.

Taking their unique brand of western hospitality and performance on the road, the Showband’s tour will include a stop at the Vikingland Band Festival in Alexandria, Minnesota. The Showband will perform in the Vikingland Band Festival parade (which features only marching bands!) and will perform its 2016 field production in exhibition at the what is considered the largest and most prestigious summer marching band competition in the Midwest. Continue reading

A Drum Major: More Than Just a Conductor

It’s not a secret that the marching arts provide exceptional learning experiences for youth. As one of North America’s fastest growing athletic activities, it challenges students physically, mentally, and creatively. There are a lot of reasons for students to join a marching band or drum corps, but the leadership skills that drum majors gain are truly second-to-none. As it turns out, there is a lot more to this role than just conducting the band and wearing a black cowboy hat!

1. They’re expert communicators

Elena Samoilova, who was the Showband’s head drum major in 2011 and 2012, is now the Showband’s Leadership Coach. She describes drum majors as the link between students and instructors. Drum majors learn exceptional communication skills by interacting with people at all levels, receiving directions from staff, constantly giving instructions to large groups, and occasionally speaking on behalf of the band for media.

According to Aaron Park, Director of Bands for the Calgary Stampede, it’s the things that aren’t said out loud that are especially important. “Drum majors develop non-verbal communication skills that help them to be approachable, build relationships with others, and intuitively understand what the group needs to do next to be successful. I trust Grace (the Showband’s current head drum major) to work with the members and get things done.”

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Elena Samilova entertaining crowds with her team at the Saddledome Steps in 2012.

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A Marching Band Tour by the Numbers

This month, the Calgary Stampede Showband took the Calgary Stampede’s western spirit and hospitality to fairs and festivals across North America including Red Deer Westerner Days, K Days in Edmonton, the Saskatoon Ex, and the Indiana State Fair. Along the way, the Showband entertained huge crowds, competed in international DrumLine Battle and SoundSport competitions, and learned by watching other elite performance ensembles in action at the Drum Corps International (DCI) Finals.

Here’s a breakdown of what’s involved with taking a marching band on tour:

119 talented and hardworking performers

19 tour staff and instructors

7 tour volunteers and chaperones

800 hours of rehearsal throughout the year

4 fairs and exhibitions

54 appearances and performances

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8 Periscope Accounts to Follow for #DCI2015

Most fans of the marching arts know that the 2015 drum corps season comes to a close next weekend at the Drum Corps International (DCI) World Championships, which are going to be bigger than ever. There are a record number of 19 teams competing in SoundSport on Aug. 8, including several Canadian teams (our own Calgary Stampede Showband, the Diplomats (Ontario), and the McMaster Marching Band), two teams from China, and one from Taiwan! If you can’t make it to Indianapolis to see the drum and bugle corps, SoundSport, and DrumLine Battle teams in action, we’ve put together a list of Periscope accounts to follow for behind-the-scenes and in-front-of-the-action content from groups and individuals that will be there.

@ShowbandCS broadcasts rehearsals and performances live on Periscope.

The Calgary Stampede Showband, competing in SoundSport and DrumLine Battle competitions, broadcasts performances and rehearsals on Periscope.

Know of other groups and individuals that are broadcasting fantastic content about the marching arts and music education? Let us know in the comments!

1. Drum Corps International (@DCI)

This one goes without saying. The official Periscope of Marching Music’s Major League has been posting scores and other fantastic content all season long from their events across the United States. Continue reading

Showband Goes Big, Loud, and Live in Indianapolis

As part of its 2015 “Fairs and Festivals” tour, the Calgary Stampede Showband is travelling to Indianapolis next week. Hitting the road with western hospitality and catchy music straight from the Saddledome Steps, the Showband will compete in SoundSport and DrumLine Battle competitions, entertain crowds at the Indiana State Fair, and learn by watching world class drum corps in action. Announced this week, the Showband will also be performing its SoundSport set at the Drum Corps International (DCI) quarterfinals on Thursday, August 6 at Lucas Oil Stadium while the audience waits for the judges’ scores. This performance will be broadcast LIVE to theatres across the USA as part of DCI’s 12th annual “Big, Loud & Live” event which will be viewed by over 50,000 DCI fans in 600 theatres.

The Showband entertains crowds twice daily with a 45-minute set at the Saddledome Steps during the Calgary Stampede. Photo credit: Pat Johnston

The Showband entertains crowds twice daily with a 45-minute set at the Saddledome Steps during the Calgary Stampede. Photo credit: Pat Johnston

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Calgary teens share why they love marching band

Members of the Calgary Stetson Show Band, a local marching performance ensemble for high school students,  shared the reasons why they love marching band in the video below as part of a local #JoinTheBand campaign. These, and other ways that marching band transforms lives can be seen on the Calgary Stampede Showband Instagram page and in this recent blog post.

We asked: “What is your favourite part about marching band?”

They answered:

“It’s one big family”

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