15th Field Artillery Regiment Band, RCA October 27 2011, 0 Comments

Contributed By: Jack Kopstein The band has long been recognized as one Canada’s finest military bands. Their record of achievement is superb particularly in view of the fact that the band is a reserve unit of the Canadian Forces. The albums are representative of  the great music of the military band repertoire . The Fifteenth Field Regiment began in February 1920 after a decision by the Canadian Artillery to formally establish a militia unit in Vancouver. Originally called the Fifteenth Brigade, Canadian Field Artillery, the unit consisted of several horse drawn cannons manned by a group of battle hardened veterans of the First World War. Although there is no official record of a band in the early years of the unit, other sources indicate military bands performed throughout British Columbia as early as the 1860s. At the beginning of the twentieth century and throughout World War One, there was a community of military musicians that supported other Vancouver area militia units and there is no doubt that bands were a regular part of regimental life during the early years of the Fifteenth Field Regiment, too. The Canadian Artillery has a long history of supporting musicians and was the first regiment to establish a full-time band in 1879. By the time the Fifteenth Field Regiment moved into the Bessborough Armoury, a purpose built facility in what was then the outskirts of the city in the Kitsilano neighbourhood in 1934, a band was part of the establishment. Over the years, the Band of the Fifteenth Field Regiment has served its unit at virtually every military and social function held where music has been needed. The band is an integral part of the Regiment's identity and has contributed to its community footprint within Vancouver and British Columbia. In the early years, many of the musicians were active bombardiers who participated in regimental exercises with their own gun battery. Band members have served as Regimental Sergeants Major and one year, the band gun battery even won the annual shooting competition! Since 1994, the Band of the Fifteenth Field Regiment has been the only militia band on the mainland of British Columbia and, as such, its duties have expanded greatly to involve the provision of musical support to all militia units in the province. Now, it is not unusual to see the band on parade in Kelowna or Kamloops in the interior or as far east as Castlegar or Trail in the Kootenay region of the province. In recent years, the band has become a vital tool in public relations for the Army. In its capacity as the “Brigade Band”, the group serves as musical ambassadors for the Canadian Forces performing concerts, marching in parades and entertaining the public at community celebrations everywhere in British Columbia and as far away as Québec City, California, Holland and Hong Kong. In 2000, the band outgrew its facilities in the Bessborough Armoury and relocated to the Garrison Headquarters building near Jericho Beach on English Bay. Although still under command and control of the home regiment, the band functions largely independently as a self contained subunit and performs more than one hundred engagements annually. Chief Warrant Officer Al Sweet led the band from 1953 until stepping down in 1969.  Major Peter Erwin followed CWO Sweet and led the group until 1984. Upon Major Erwin's retirement, Captain Richard Van Slyke assumed the position of Director of Music and led the band until 2004. Captain James (Jim) Tempest has been the Director of Music since 2004. Visit their website: http://www.militarymusic.ca/15fieldband/