Keeping the music going in the South Okanagan

Playing a musical instrument is a big commitment. A lifelong one, according to Gerald Nadeau, director of the Penticton Concert Band.

Gerald Nadeau (top) leads the Penticton Concert Band through their final Christmas concert at Cherry Lane Shopping Centre Tuesday as they performed seasonal favourites for appreciative shoppers.

Gerald Nadeau (top) leads the Penticton Concert Band through their final Christmas concert at Cherry Lane Shopping Centre Tuesday as they performed seasonal favourites for appreciative shoppers.

Playing a musical instrument is a big commitment. A lifelong one, according to Gerald Nadeau, director of the Penticton Concert Band.

But if you don’t have a place to play your instrument, to play for an audience or simply make music with other musicians, it can be difficult to maintain an interest in practicing.

“If you practice to practice, it’s not a very good incentive. You tend to give it up over the long haul,” said Nadeau. But, he continued, that changes if you have a place to play with others that share the same interest and appreciative audiences. “It is a big thrill to play for people … a standing ovation is a reward for all the work being put in the other six days of the week in a basement somewhere.”

And that, he explained, is where the Penticton Concert Band comes in.

“We started with nine members six years ago and now we have close to four times that number and the quality of musicians has improved greatly as well,” he said. When he came to Penticton six years ago to “slow down,” Nadeau realized there were good jazz bands and vocal groups around, but there was no good concert band.

“I felt there was a need for it, room for it,” he said, adding that the proof of the need is in the commitment and desire of the amateur musicians that come from across the South Okanagan and Similkameen to play in the band.

“I know what it takes to stay at that level and we do have people that are quite busy in the band, said Nadeau. “We have a medical doctor, we have a chef, we have retired people and we have three music teachers in the band.”

And, Nadeau said, despite their other commitments, the band members work hard at their music. Despite having just finished their annual series of Christmas concerts, they musicians won’t be getting much of a break.

“The band keeps going. I give them about three weeks off a year,” said Nadeau. In addition to the dozen or so concerts they give throughout the year, they also rehearse weekly. “We only rehearse and hour-and-a-half a week, but it is amazing what you can attain. It is a very intense rehearsal … they enjoy it and most of them thank me for the workout.”

For more information on booking the Concert Band or how to join, call 250-809-2087.