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

10 behind-the-scenes moments from the Calgary Stampede Parade

Standing between a band marching towards me in one direction, and a golf cart full of paraphernalia driving by in another, Parade committee member Sharon Spooner looked at me, smiled, and said, “This is it! This is the fun part!” There was a lot that went on behind the scenes of the Calgary Stampede Parade and these were just a few of the moments that stood out to me.

1. There was a larger-than-life bull on the sidewalk, who may or may not have been parked illegally.

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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.

 

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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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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Queen Mick’s Farewell

Hello there!

Seeing as I will soon be passing my crown, I feel as though I should get one last blog post in.

This past year has been nothing short of a great adventure. As with all life’s adventures, there were some highs and some lows, unexpected turns and a few plateaus, but most of all there were many, many memories made with wonderful people.

As my reign draws to an end many people are asking if I am sad that it’s almost over. I have to admit that after the unforgettable 10 days of the Calgary Stampede, I lamented a bit knowing that I would never be able to relive those 10 days. However, I entered this year knowing that it would inevitably come to an end, so while I could be sad and drag my heels, I have chosen to embrace this season and be nothing short of excited; excited for the next three young ladies who will be crowned and excited about my next chapter of life.

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 Addressing the Grandstand during the Afternoon Rodeo.

This year’s competition brought out many extremely talented, smart, courageous, and beautiful ladies. I am sure glad I am not a judge; they have a very tough job to do! Whichever three ends up winning will certainly have earned the title. Continue reading

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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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.

randyand rodney

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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Kaillie Humphries is the 2015 Calgary Stampede Parade Marshal!

Today we made the exciting announcement that two-time Olympic bobsleigh gold medalist, Kaillie Humphries, will lead the 2015 Parade!

Pictured: Kaillie Humphries,   native Calgarian, two-time Olympic gold medalist, 2014 Lou Marsh Award winner for Canada's top athlete and 2015 Calgary Stampede Parade Marshal!

Pictured: Kaillie Humphries, native Calgarian, two-time Olympic gold medalist, 2014 Lou Marsh Award winner for Canada’s top athlete and 2015 Calgary Stampede Parade Marshal!

President & chairman Bill Gray and Humphries made their grand entrance in a horse drawn carriage! Humpries’ bobsleigh helmet concealed her identity until Gray announced her name to the eager crowd.

Humphries confessed to the audience “when I got the call, I almost peed my pants!” She described her memories of growing up in Calgary and her mother dragging her up out of bed at the crack of dawn to get the best seats for the Calgary Stampede Parade*. Continue reading

10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about the Stampede Showriders

Calgary Stampede Showriders auditions are coming up on Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8 at the Barron Barn in Turner Valley. Showriders alumni Haley Peckham and Mazlie Gehring decided to share some inside information about the prestigious riding ensemble for prospective members and admiring fans. Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about the Showriders:

1. The Showriders were formed in 1985 as a colour guard for the Calgary Stampede Showband.

Originally, the Showriders existed to accompany the Showband in parades and rodeos across southern Alberta. Celebrating their 30th anniversary this year, the equestrian group has since developed its own identity as a unique Calgary Stampede Foundation educational program that develops members’ riding skills and provides opportunities to travel, perform, and compete.

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2. Boys are allowed

Historically, the Showriders have been comprised of female riders, but male riders are allowed in the group!

3. The Showriders and the Stampede Showband rehearse together before parades so that the horses get used to being around the band.

Most horses don’t spend a lot of time around trumpets and bass drums, so the Showriders and Showband get together to practice before the summer performance season begins. This helps the horses acclimate to the loud sounds.

4. Showrider horses are as much part of the team as the riders.

Much of the Showrider rehearsals involve the horses getting to know each other and learning to work together. Showrider horses learn to be calm and resilient, in addition to the unique performance skills they acquire through clinics and rehearsals. Pairings are also made based on how the horses get along with each other. The riders learn how to take better care of their horses through information sessions on topics such as “how to feed your horse,” “how to keep your horse energized” and “how to condition horses to keep them in shape between practices.”

5. The Showriders use A LOT of hairspray and glitter.

Gehring told us that she goes through six cans of hairspray and an absurd number of bobby pins during Stampede time. What else could keep their hair looking fabulous after a performance in the Infield? They also go through a lot of glitter. Apparently, it is easy to spot the Showriders’ area in the barns because it is covered in glitter. If you look closely, you’ll see that they also stencil a “C lazy S” in glitter on each horse every day.

6. The Showriders aren’t the ranch girls that carry the flags during the Calgary Stampede Rodeo.

The Calgary Stampede Ranch Girls are an entirely separate program from the Showriders. The Showriders sometimes also carry flags, but you’ll notice that they dress differently and give a performance similar to the RCMP Musical Ride.

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7. They are different than American-style drill teams.

American drill teams are known for their speed, the Showriders are known for their precision, something they call “sitting pretty.” The Showriders also have a much shorter season and are a smaller team compared to most American-based groups, which are often able to ride year round.

8. The Showriders ride behind the Showband for two very important reasons.

The Showriders ride behind the Showband so that the band doesn’t have to step in horse poop (ick!) and so that the horses can see where all that noise is coming from.

9. The Showriders rode as the colour guard for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, William and Catherine (Will and Kate), when they visited the Stampede in 2011.

Peckham recalls Kate saying that the Showriders and their horses were “beautiful.”

10. Being a Showrider is a great way to train to become a Calgary Stampede Queen or Princess.

There is no guarantee that Showriders will go on to become rodeo royalty, but many alumna have become Calgary Stampede Queens and Princesses. Peckham, a 2015 Stampede Princess, and Gehring, this year’s Airdrie Pro-Rodeo Princess, both say that their experiences in Showriders helped them to develop confidence and improve their riding ability – important factors considered by judges in rodeo royalty contests.

The Showriders are looking for 14 – 21 year-olds who love to ride and own their own horse. To register for the Showriders clinic and auditions on Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8, email showriders@calgarystampede.com.

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Stampede Showrider auditions; here’s why you should apply

Do you know someone who has what it takes to be a Calgary Stampede Showrider? The Stampede Showriders are a dynamic group of young equestrians with a distinctive western flair. They perform across southern Alberta and have travelled to destinations in the United States and Europe. The Showriders are holding 2015 auditions on Saturday, March 7 and Sunday, March 8 at the Barron Barn in Turner Valley. They are looking for prospective members between the ages of 14 and 21 who own their own horse. To be part of the Showriders, it is beneficial to have some previous riding experience.

Thinking about auditioning but not sure if you’re the right fit? Twenty-two year old Calgary Stampede Princess and Showriders alumna Haley Peckham told us what it is like to be part of the Stampede’s unique youth riding ensemble. Hayley was a member of the Showriders for six years before being crowned Calgary Stampede Princess in September 2014. She credits the program for enhancing her self-confidence and making her a better rider.

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Peckham as a Stampede Showrider

Most will recognize the Showriders from the Calgary Stampede Parade and their musical ride performances in the Infield before the GMC Rangeland Derby every night during Stampede, but many aren’t familiar with the full range of Showriders’ performances or the work that goes into preparing for those appearances. The Showriders also perform in the new Agrium Western Event Centre and make other appearances in the community, such as the Alberta Children’s Hospital Parade. They have also had the opportunity to travel to, perform, perform and compete during Cheyenne Frontier Days in Wyoming and the Rose Parade in Pasadena, California.

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Stampede Showriders at the Alberta Children’s Hospital Parade

The girls and their horses rehearse approximately twice each month during the spring leading up to their summer performance season. Haley says rehearsals are an incredible learning experience for both riders and their horses. Rehearsals include time learning about different horses’ personalities and honing performance skills. The Showriders also hold clinics to further improve the girls’ riding and the horses’ resiliency. For example, they participate in an extreme trail clinic every year. Additionally, while riding is typically an individual activity, the Showriders are part of a team, something Haley calls one of her favourite parts of being involved with the group.

And the riders? They come from many backgrounds. Haley’s family has a ranch west of Bowden and grew up around horses. As a little girl, she saw the Showriders on television and knew that she wanted to ride in the Calgary Stampede Parade one day. Some girls come from ranches near Calgary, while others grew up in the city and board their horses out of town.

As Peckham testifies, being a part of the Showriders is a lot of fun and a great opportunity for personal growth.

Prospective members should email showriders@calgarystampede.com for more information or to register for auditions. We hope to see you at the auditions.