New leader takes over concert band

The Penticton Concert Band is embarking upon its next chapter after recruiting Dave Brunelle as the new band director.

The Penticton Concert Band is embarking upon its next chapter after recruiting Dave Brunelle as the new band director.

“I’m really re-acquainting myself with upper level concert band music and I’m really enjoying working with these strong musicians from the community,” he said. “My passion is jazz music, but I grew up playing concert band, that’s my foundation.”

Brunelle is nearing the end of his tenure as principal of Skaha Lake Middle School, where he teaches jazz and concert band students in Grades 6, 7 and 8. He joined the Penticton Concert Band to replace the former director, Gerald Nadeau, who grew the band fivefold over the past eight years, from seven members to around 40. The 2014-2015 season was Nadeau’s final year with the band, and before his replacement was found, he said the new conductor will have a big job to fill.

“The person taking it over can look at it two ways: he or she’s got a thing that is running wild right now – which is good, but on the other hand, it’s a lot to keep running,” Nadeau said. “I hope the person that fills the role can keep it going.”

Though Brunelle wasn’t a member of the concert band before taking over as conductor, he had been following the group’s progression for years.

“It started off as a band that could really only play beginner-style music. They have grown, not only in size, but the quality of their sound,” Brunelle said. “This is all about Gerald – Gerald has moved this band incredibly over the years.”

Nadeau’s acceleration of the Penticton Concert Band gave local musicians who have taken a break from their instrument a new platform to practice.

As Brunelle closes in on his retirement with the school system, the concert band’s opening for a conductor felt like the right next step.

“I was looking for more opportunities to play music in a band setting,” he said. “I was planning on joining the band and then was told the music director was retiring, so I went through audition process and was the successful candidate to take over that position.”

As a conductor, Brunelle has to be familiar with every instrument in the band. He considers himself to be a woodwind specialist, and is most comfortable playing saxophone or clarinet.

“It’s a perfect size band; with 40 members all the parts are covered, and there are very strong musicians in the band,” he said, citing diverse experience among its members.

The band rehearses every Tuesday night at Skaha Lake Middle School, and any musician interested in joining the group is invited to audition.

“There’s a certain level of musicianship that’s required as well; it’s not a beginner band by any means, but they’re welcome to come out and see if they’ll have an interest in it.”

Those who are thinking about being part of the concert band can contact Brunelle at dbrunelle@shaw.ca, and are asked to mention their instrument of choice.