Dad’s memorial concert was amazing! When Mom and I first returned from Maine we had decided that we didn’t want to do any sort of memorial service and that holding TubaFest in May would be our memorial to Dad. Well, after having spoken to many people in the community, it became obvious that we needed to hold an event much sooner than May, not for ourselves, but to provide closure to all those in the local community who had known Dad. We needed to give them a chance to pay their last respects to him. So, the planning began.
We decided that a concert would be the best way to remember my father. He had become quite central to the musical community in Fredericton and at UNB. As an undergraduate advisor, he often asked students if they played instruments and encouraged them to join local groups.
We had initially wanted the venue to be Memorial Hall on the UNB campus as that is where Dad spent many an hour, rehearsing with the Fredericton Chamber Orchestra, performing with the Fredericton Concert and Marching Band, rehearsing and performing with the UNB Concert Band, and also planning and holding the Fredericton International TubaFest. Unfortunately, Mem Hall was not available, so we looked for other venues. We ended up holding the concert at the Christ Church Cathedral, which was also an appropriate venue. Dad played with the Brass Menagerie, a brass quintet that rehearsed at the Christ Church Cathedral in return for performing at some of the services through the year.
Mom’s sister had come to visit from Arkansas and was a great help as we had decided not only to hold a concert, but also to have a display of photos from different times in Dad’s life. Mom’s sister also had the idea of brining various items that had belonged to dad to display as well. The mother of a friend had offered to bake, so Kim and I took charge of having a reception after the concert.
I had hoped to take photos of the various performers, but the light was not that great, so I did not manage. We started the show with the Fredericton Fiddle Orchestra. This is a group that I founded in 2005. Dad joined the group, mostly, I think to support me and to spend time with my mother, who was excited about the group, and definitely wanted to join! My dad was great help as he would run the rehearsals any time I had to be away. We picked three pieces to perform: The Log Driver’s Waltz, John Roy Lyall and Loggieville Two-Step. John Roy Lyall was picked specifically for Dad as he would have the group work on this piece every time I left. It is in three flats which is a harder key for violins, and the group would always groan every time we would play it. Dad took delight in torturing them, but also loved the piece as it is really pretty and has two harmony parts.
Next up in the concert was the Brass Menagerie. As previously mentioned, this is a brass quintet. I believe this is one of the few small ensembles with which Dad performed that he actually was not active in forming. My dad was constantly calling up musicians trying to get them to play music with him! In a very touching move, the Brass Menagerie placed an empty chair to represent Dad.
I performed fiddle music next and was joined by Tom Richards. We played some Irish jigs because Dad had been so happy when I got to go to Ireland back in 2001-2002. He went out and immediately bought a bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey to celebrate. We then performed “Gateway to Paradise”, a tune that I composed about our land down by the Bay of Fundy. This was a favourite place of mine and of my father’s. Our final tune was “Draggin’ the Bow” which was simply a fiddle tune that Tom and I like a whole lot!
The Antique Brass were our next performers. This is a tuba quartet that Dad formed a few years back. Dad had been going to tuba conferences for a while and we had all fallen in love with the rich sound of a tuba quartet, usually formed of two tubas and two euphoniums. Thankfully a past member of the quartet stepped in and took Dad’s place for this concert so we could have the full four parts in the performance.
Kim, my husband, and I are in a band called Different Folk. Mom and Dad rarely missed a performance of this group, or any group that I was in for that matter. We performed “Proud Mary” as Dad was always a big Credence Clearwater Revival fan, “Sam Hall” (a traditional Irish song that we sang a cappella) and “One More Chorus” which is our signature song.
My dad’s siblings traveled up from the US to be with us for this event, which was very nice. My aunt (my father’s sister-in-law) is an excellent singer, and she graced us all with an a cappella version of “Amazing Grace”.
Next up I was joined by Dianne Roxborough Brown (piano) and we performed “Czardas”. Dianne and I have performed this piece many times through the years.
Finally, we were down to the immediate family. My brother and one of his daughters performed “Kumbaya” which was very sweet! Dad and I used to play duets together all the time, so it was really nice seeing my brother and his daughter play. Next Mom, Timothy (my brother) and I played a piece from a suite called “Smokey Joe”. This was in the tradition of family fun. We used to play music together as a family every Sunday evening after dinner. We did have to rearrange the music a little though since we were missing Dad’s part.
The grand finale for the concert was a sing-along of Australian drinking songs. While traveling in New Zealand, Dad had found a book of Australian Digger Songs, which were songs sung during either WWI or WWII… Dad arranged a medley of these songs for us, and they became a staple in both our private music making and our performances. This seemed to us to be the only appropriate way to end the concert.
Kim was our master of ceremonies through the evening and did an excellent job of both announcing the groups and telling stories about Dad. It was a great evening with both music and stories of meeting Dad, growing up with Dad (provided by me and my brother) and being surrounded by people who knew Dad through music, through work, through biology…
The evening ended with a great reception. We had asked the various performers if they would be willing to bring a snack of some sort, and we ended up with quite a spread!
All in all, I would say this was a great success. It was really well attended with likely around 250 people in the audience, and I really think that everyone enjoyed themselves. It was the kind of evening that my father would have loved!