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Whistler Community Band makes its debut

Full band will perform its first public show Jan. 25

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Haven't heard of the Whistler Community Band?

That's because the group of around 15 local musicians hasn't performed a formal, public concert yet, despite three years together.

"We have done some gigs at Creekbread for fundraisers as a smaller band," says Marilyn Crichton, who traded in her flute to try out percussion in the band. "But this is the first full band performance."

She's referring to the group's upcoming winter concert at Millennium Place on Jan. 25 where they will play an eclectic mix of songs ranging from show tunes to jazz music to an homage to Scottish poet Robbie Burns.

"It's our first time and that's a pretty important venue, so it's pretty exciting," Crichton says. "I think it will be a lot more formal, but we're looking forward to it. Most people have played before in high school bands or in clubs. I was in high school band, so it's kind of familiar, but scary at the same time."

The band members — who play everything from the clarinet and trumpet to saxophone and trombone — are themselves are a pretty varied mix. There's a doctor, nurse, real estate agent and exchange student, to name just a few occupations. One member, a former mental health worker, even used to play music in Vancouver's downtown eastside with her clients. "It's all walks of life," Crichton says. "Everyone is really supportive, so it's really fun."

The age range too runs the gamut, though there's less of a divide than you might imagine, she adds. "It really works well because in the case of the high school students it's almost like mentoring. In my case where I'm learning (percussion), I'm being mentored by other people as well. I would say (our tastes) are pretty similar. The high school students haven't asked us to play hip hop or anything yet," she says with a laugh.

Alison Hunter, a local musician and music teacher, founded the group for locals who were interested in playing music together. They practice weekly for around an hour and a half, come snowstorms or sunshine. During a recent blizzard "we all still showed up," Crichton says. "After two hours of playing we dug each other out."

Most have performance experience and are able to read music, but beyond that, the group encourages anyone to join. "We're looking for more people if any other people have their own instruments and can read music," Crichton says.

As for their first major performance, she says there will be something for everyone in the crowd. "I think it will appeal to all ages," she says. "If you play an instrument it's fun to listen to or if you know people in the band, it has a universal appeal."

Tickets for the 7 p.m. show are $10 for adults and $5 for children. Grab them ahead of time at the Millennium Place box office or at the door.

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