Category Archives: Band History

The Band's clarinet section poses for a photographer before the Winter Prelude concert, December 2017

The Band Presents “A Winter Prelude”

From the December SnapD, photos by Sylvie Lessard.  For more photos, visit SnapD.

The 2nd Annual Seasonal Concert by the Newmarket Citizen’s Band at Newmarket’s Historic Old Town Hall was sold out! They explored the lead up to winter through an eclectic musical program playing seasonal favourites with special guests, the Embellished Bell Quartet. The Newmarket Citizens’ Band is Canada’s oldest continuously-operating community concert band, established in 1872! The Band consists of volunteers of various ages and musical level who enjoy musical instruments. They rehearse every Tuesday night at Ray Twinney.The Embellished Bell Quartet holding some of the 40+ bells they played as guests of the band at the Winter Prelude concert.

Newmarket Citizens Band Celebrates Canada 150

From snapD.

The Newmarket Citizens Band (NCB) kicked off Canada’s 150 Sesquicentennial Birthday Celebrations last month with an evening of music featuring Canadian composers and artists – from traditional Canadian compositions and folk tunes to modern swing and jazz arrangements! Featured artists were NORTH of DIXIE, a Dixieland style band from Newmarket. Guest conductor and composer was Canadian composer, Vince Gassi who conducted two of his own pieces. The Band was excited to once again perform in Newmarket’s historic Old Town Hall to another terrific audience. Thank you to NCB for a fantastic evening

Conductors for the evening:  Dale Matsushige, composer Vince Gassi, and Les Saville.

Conductors for the evening: Dale Matsushige, composer Vince Gassi, and Les Saville.

Band Sesquicentennial Get’s Write Up in the Wholenote

From the November 30, 2016, Wholenote

With Canada’s sesquicentennial year only one month away, municipalities and organizations all over the country are searching their archives for records of significant events over the past 150 years which could stimulate community interest in this year of reflection and celebration. Unfortunately, in the band world, there are few bands whose history goes back even half that 150-year time span. One band which does have some good material in their archives is the Newmarket Citizens’ Band. In a recent exploration of the band’s archives, they found a photograph of the band taken in the year 1883. With the sesquicentennial year approaching, what better time to show off this picture, to show the citizens of the community that their band has been there to provide music for town events for all but five years of Confederation.

At an evening meeting of council, several members of the band, wearing their red blazers, arrived for the presentation. In the announcement of their deputation to council, the band pointed out that “Since 1872, the Newmarket Citizens’ Band has been an integral part of the cultural and social landscape of the town of Newmarket.” To commemorate the opening of the newly restored Old Town Hall they presented a large framed photograph of the town band taken in August 1883 just a few weeks after the original opening of the Old Town Hall on July 1, 1883.

The photo of the band was taken during the Firemen’s Excursion to Niagara Falls on the Civic Holiday, August 8, 1883. An article about the event, including this photo, was published in the Newmarket Era of the day. Approximately 250 residents travelled by train and then steamship to Niagara Falls and the band went along to provide entertainment. It is a prime example of the band’s long involvement in the social and cultural life of the town. The write-up of the trip mentioned that the band, reinforced by two gentlemen from Sharon and Bolton, “enlivened the trip by music on the fore deck; good music is never so pleasing as on the water.”

A formal public unveiling of the photo was scheduled to take place at the band’s “Simple Gifts” Concert at the Old Town Hall on Botsford Street, Friday, December 2, 2016. (On a personal note, some 35 years ago, I played there for a few years in monthly concerts of The Newmarket Jazz Appreciation Society, and our small Dixieland group was known as “The Botsford Street Ramblers.”)

Since it is rare to find this much information about a band’s activities almost 150 years ago, it is worth including here some of the historical information about the band recently presented to the Newmarket mayor and council. “The band formed in 1872 with roots going back to as early as 1843. Walter W. Roe, son of the town’s postmaster and fur trader, William Roe, circulated a petition among the local business community to raise funds. The 12 band members contributed $5 each and along with 69 other contributors raised the sum $319 to purchase instruments.”

To quote the petition: “Whereas we, the undersigned, think it a disgrace to the inhabitants of Newmarket that they should have, on all festive occasions, to send to the small villages of Aurora and Sharon for a band, we have determined, with the consent and assistance of our fellow-townsmen, to form one of our own.”

The timing of the recent presentation could not have been better from a number of perspectives. For one, the band delegation met with the mayor and council within a few days of the reopening of the beautifully restored Old Town Hall, which is now destined to be a prime performance venue. For another, it has only been a few weeks since the band was informed that they would now have an excellent permanent rehearsal home complete with storage in a large town recreation centre. Wandering from place to place for rehearsals has been the norm since their former rehearsal space was destroyed by arsonists many years ago. Last but not least, it just also happened a few days after the band paraded, as it has for years, in the town’s annual Santa Claus parade.

A photo of the sculpture of the Trading Tree and the band in 1883, taken by Jack Macquarrie at the Newmarket Town Hall

Just outside of the council chambers, in the lobby of the town hall, there is a large imposing mural depicting “The Newmarket Citizens’ Band gathered under the big elm in 1883.”


Newmarket Citizens’ Band Performs at the “New” Old Town Hall

From elocalpost, October 4, 2016

What a great day at Newmarket’s newly renovated and expanded Old Town Hall that re-opened officially on Thursday, September 22nd. The Hall will no doubt become the cultural hub for the Town as it provides local performers and artists with a place to showcase their talents to the residents of the Town of Newmarket.

An Open House was held on Saturday, September 24th. The Newmarket Citizens’ Band (NCB) which has been the official Town Band since 1872, has a long history of providing entertainment in and around the Newmarket area. The Band played two concerts for residents as part of public tours that were held that day. The audiences were very enthusiastic and enjoyed seeing the band playing once more in the Old Town Hall.

The Band is very excited that this venue is finally available and plans to hold regular concerts throughout the year. To mark this historic occasion, an official photo of the band was taken outside of the Hall after the concert.

NCB embraces the community band concept and welcomes any musician teen aged and older who plays a band instrument to come out to a rehearsal. There are no auditions or waiting lists. For more information about the band and how to join check out our website at

Under the Trading Tree: Community Wind Band Highlights

The stage was set at the Newmarket Theatre for an historic meeting of some of Ontario’s finest musicians, representing more than twenty six Community Bands on Sunday October 5, 2014. Presented by the Newmarket Citizens’ Band in conjunction with the Canadian Band Association (Ontario) as part of the annual Community Band Weekend, this massed band concert was led by nine of the provinces top-rated conductors.

Listen to a few of the highlights of that day.

On Eagles Wings, (Robert W. Smith) Roy Menagh, conductor

Blue Lake and Rocky Shores (Bill Thomas) Rita Arendz, conductor

Canadian Folk Song Rhapsody (Curnow) Dale Matsushige, conductor

Soliloquy for Band Op. 40a (L.M. Calleja) L.M. Calleja, conductor

Gershwin! (Arr. Warren Barker) Graz Brescacin, conductor <

Florentiner March (J. Fucik) Gerald Murphy, conductor

In Autumn Skies (Y. Kamioka) Dale Matsushige, conductor

Into The Hills (Ryan Meeboer) Rita Arendz, conductor

Ashokan Farewell (Jay Ungar /Arr. Custer) Les Saville, conductor

Snake Fence Country (Howard Cable) Barb Hunter, conductor

Country Gardens (Percy Grainger) Gerald Murphy, conductor

Rest (Frank Ticheli) Joseph Resendes, conductor

Oak Island Odyssey (Vince Gassi) Les Saville, conductor

Olympic Torch Relay 2009

As the torch relay team enjoys a well-deserved break yesterday and today, Globe editorial cartoonist Brian Gable recalls an earlier stop on the journey.

BRIAN GABLE NEWMARKET, ONT. — From Saturday’s Globe and Mail Published on Saturday, Dec. 26, 2009 12:00AM EST

It’s 9:30 a.m. on a clear minus-six-degree morning at the Magna Centre on Day 50 of the relay, and crowds are pouring onto the outdoor parking lot in anticipation of the imminent arrival of the Olympic torch.

Because it’s Friday, a working day, the majority of this morning’s several thousand attendees are local students, along with a few retirees. On an outdoor stage, the Newmarket Citizens’ Band ( “the oldest established community concert band in Canada”) strikes up The Maple Leaf Forever and the party begins. For the next 90 minutes on the stage, DJs rap, acrobats leap and patriotic fervour builds.

“Let’s go Canada!” cheers are led and for a brief time the Magna Centre parking lot takes on the feeling of a massive, energetic pep rally. Olympic mascots move through the excited, flag-waving crowd, a continuous bass beat emanates from the stage and then at 11 a.m. the crowd grows even louder as the torch and bearer are sighted coming down Mulock Drive amidst blinking police cars and a convoy of attending vehicles.

A smiling Clare Kowaltschuk bears the flame through the cheering crowd and takes the stage. Speeches are delivered and heartily cheered. The ceremony ends with a final flurry of flag-waving and enthusiasm and for Newmarket, Ont., the ceremony ends.

The torch must move on.

Photo of Newmarket Citizens Band at Markham, Ontario, 2009 Music Fest festival

Band Attains GOLD at MusicFest Canada 2009

The Town Band took the highest honour, the Gold standing, at the National MusicFest in Markham on May 13, 2009.  Kudos to Rick Harper who received the honour award for the best individual player with his flugel horn solo.

Recorded live at MusicFest.

They Came Sailing Suite – Jacques Cartier, Andre Jutas

Shenandoah, arranged by Frank Ticheli

Hoedown, Aaron Copland arranged by John Moss