History moment: Calgary Stampede remembers some of our greatest female contributors for International Women’s Day

To celebrate the centennial of Alberta women achieving the right to vote and International Women’s Day on March 8, let’s take a look at some of the pioneering women of western performances and rodeo who competed at the first Calgary Stampede. Continue reading

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

AltaLink and the Calgary Stampede team up to promote farm safety!

On Thursday, November 26, AltaLink generously announced that they will donate $1.5 million to create AltaLink Hall, a 20,000 square foot multi-purpose space within the Agrium Western Event Centre, and support agriculture programming. One of the fantastic new initiatives is Farm Safety Day, a one-day farm safety program aimed at rural youths in grades six to nine.

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Pictured: (L) Scott Thon and (R) Warren Connell

“AltaLink’s generous donation to create Farm Safety Day and AltaLink Hall is a milestone in the Calgary Stampede’s effort to continue to showcase agriculture and western experiences,” said Warren Connell, chief executive officer of the Calgary Stampede. 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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First Parade for Stampede School Coordinator

There was a certain buzz in the air if you happened to be near Fort Calgary on Friday! The smell of pancakes was on the wind and the sound of marching bands could be heard in East Village. Its parade day and the official kick off to Stampede. It was fun to get a little behind the scenes look at the Parade and the work that goes into staging it. The Stampede Parade Committee is a group of over 125 volunteers who start planning the Parade in September, and every year they deliver one of the greatest western –themed parades that is watched by almost 400,000 people in person and nearly 2,000,000 people on TV. This year was no exception. With over a 160 entries there are close to 3000 people and more that 700 horses. With all those animals meandering their way down the 5 km route of Calgary’s downtown, that always means almost 2 tons of horse poop and some very special street sweepers to help keep the route clean for the close to 30 marching bands.

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Randy and Rodney

This year was very special for me; it was my very first Stampede Parade! One of the things that I loved the most was seeing so many people from all over the world and Calgary together in one place, I could feel the excitement. I spent quite a bit of time behind the scenes with a longtime family friend Justin Davis prior to the parade beginning. Justin has a beautiful team of black horses, Randy and Rodney, and they participate with the Shriners. “They are the best friends a guy could ask for,” according to Justin, reliable, strong, always willing to listen, and go out and play whenever he wants. It was fun to watch him hook up the team and get ready to go.

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Randy, Rodney, Justin and Harley with the Shriners

The Shriners’ are always a highlight, of any parade, for me. I love the little planes and cars. While spending time here I also got to meet a 23 year veteran of the Stampede Parade, Bruce, a member of the Tin Lizzie Corps. His little car is a fully functioning tow truck that, when needed, tows broken down Tin Lizzies on the parade route. Bruce has seen it all in terms of weather at the Parade; snow, rain, hail, sleet and sun.

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Bruce in his tow truck

Tin Lizzie Corps

Tin Lizzie Corps

 

I also got to sneak some picture of some of our very own Stampede VIP’s pre parade. CEO Warren Connell expressed his excitement and you could actually see Premier Rachel Notley’s excitement as she bonded with her horse Woody

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Premier Rachel Notley and Stampede President and Chairman of the Board Bill Gray

Having only ever watched the parade on TV, I used to think that the parade was for tourists, something that they could come and see before they took in the Stampede at Stampede Park. Now I think that the parade is really about showcasing the pride that we have for our community. I felt proud to be a local and see all the organizations of our city, province, and country in the parade. Whether you are participating in the parade with a float or watching as spectator, the parade really is about being together as a community. To me it was an experience that I’m looking forward to for next year, I only have to wait 357 days!

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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Make your musical mark: 10 Reasons to Join a Marching Band

Tired of sitting on the sidelines? Looking for info on how to get involved with Calgary’s marching bands? You’re in luck, because several local ensembles are currently recruiting new members for the 2015/16 season:

For those who need some convincing, we’ve compiled our top 10 reasons to join a marching band! If you’re planning to audition for Showband, make sure you check out our awesome audition tips!

1. Amazing Performance Opportunities

Calgary’s marching bands get incredible opportunities to perform on the Saddledome Steps during Stampede week, at marching band competitions, at sporting events, in parades, and special concerts.

The Showband has also performed for Mayor Nenshi, Prime Minister Stephan Harper, and the Duke and Dutchess of Cambridge Will and Kate. We’ve given a command performance at Buckingham Palace, been featured on the show, “Live with Kelly Ripa”, and performed on stage with Shania Twain and Michael Bernard Fitzgerald. These are all especially unique performance opportunities that would never be possible in a normal concert band setting.

In 2014, the Calgary Stampede Showband and Calgary Stetson Show Band traveled to Brazil to compete in the WASMB Championships.

In 2014, the Calgary Stampede Showband and Calgary Stetson Show Band traveled to Brazil to compete in the WASMB Championships.

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Stampede School Meets Cirque School

When the grade four students in Mrs. Olynik’s class from Acadia School arrived at Campus Calgary Stampede School to investigate the Dreams of the Stampede, they didn’t know they would spend an afternoon under the Big Top! Thanks to a teacher with a dream to explore Cirque du Soleil, the curtains were raised by the Cirque du Soleil publicist Amelie.

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Under the Grand Chapiteau Continue reading

Marching Band Audition Tips from the Calgary Stampede Showband

So you want to join a marching band? Look no further! Showband members Colleen Kehler and Curtis Polowick and brass instructor Chris Bourne have put together five tips for musicians and prospective colour guard members looking to ace their upcoming Showband auditions!

1. Come prepared!

This includes being comfortable with the audition materials that have been made available online. Chris says that staff notice and appreciate when people have practiced a lot. Plus, if you are more prepared, your stress level will be lower because you will feel more confident that you are ready. olympic parade 3

 

 

2. Plan ahead

Wear appropriate shoes and clothes, eat a good meal before you go, and make sure you  get there in plenty of time to check-in and warm-up. Also, make sure you get a good night’s sleep and drink water the day of and the day before the audition. Continue reading

It’s Earth Day!

The Calgary Stampede is extremely proud of it’s role as a steward of our Park. This incredible space, nestled by the Elbow River, has been our home for more than 100 years! In order to take care of our Park for 100 more years, the Stampede’s focus is to reduce the Park’s carbon footprint, year-round and during Stampede time, through technology and the three R’s – reduce, reuse and recycle.

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