Wayne Speller, a familiar figure in Sidney, will play Last Post and Reveille when Sidney Concert Band plays its annual Salute to Our Veterans concert Sunday Nov. 10th at Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre with the show starting at 2 p.m. (Colin Savage/Submitted).

Sidney Concert Band honours veterans with Sunday performance

Concert includes a traditional wreath-laying and classic tunes from the Big Band era of 1940s

The Last Post and other familiar tunes are on the set list when the Sidney Concert Band (SCB) pays tribute to veterans on Sunday, Nov. 10 at Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre with the show starting at 2 p.m.

SCB consists out of 50 volunteer musicians, who have been playing together since 1987, and their upcoming show has become part and parcel of an annual tradition honouring Canadian veterans with Bruce Ham conducting the Salute to Our Veterans concert.

The show consists of two distinct halves: a service concert and an entertainment concert. The first opens with a wreath-laying service with members of the local Kittyhawk Air Cadets forming the Colour Party. During the wreath-laying, the band will play Memento with band member Jim Kingham reciting the poem Why Wear A Poppy.

This portion of the show also features Piper Mel Johnston, the official piper of the Lt. Governor. A former Pipe Major of the Canadian Scottish Regimental Association Pipe Band, Johnston will play a couple of pieces himself (The Piper’s Lament, Amazing Grace) and accompany highland dancers from the Bon Accord Highland Dance School under instructor Lynne Griffith.

Wayne Speller will play the Last Post and Reveille in continuing his familiar role. He says he cannot quite recall when he first started or how often he has played Last Post. “It must be at least seven years, usually once or twice each year for the Sidney Concert Band, at nursing homes and for the odd military parade,” he said.

RELATED: Sidney Concert Band performs salute to Korean War veterans

The second half of the show unfolds in the style of a live 1940s radio show, with Speller returning to the stage to play Hoagy Carmichael’s Star Dust as a tribute to legendary trumpeter Harry James.

“Harry James was a big band orchestra leader and famous trumpet soloist for 44 years,” said Speller. “He was most famous at the beginning of his career, playing on radio shows, in films and on the nightclub circuit throughout the 1940s and early 1950s. Harry had a distinctive flamboyant style of trumpet-playing featuring heavy vibrato, [half-valve] and lip glissandi (slurring) and a considerable range. He and his orchestra continued to be among the most recognized big bands well into the 1960s and 70s.”

Audiences can also expect to hear other favourites from the era of Big Bands, including A Tribute to Artie Shaw featuring SCB clarinetists Diana Gordon and David Rogers, Glenn Miller in Concert and a Salute to Bob Hope. Tickets are available online or at Mary Winspear Centre’s box office with more info available at 250-656-0275. Organizers encourage veterans to please wear their medals.


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