Honoring Brian Williams July 16 2012, 0 Comments

Contributed By: Caroline Goard & Jack Kopstein (NIAGARA NEWS-Thorold Ontario- Canada) The band shell at the Battle of Beaverdams Park has officially been named the ‘Brian Williams Band Shell,’ in honor of the Thorold Reed Concert Band’s conductor and director, who will be retiring after his 20-year career with the band this August. Members of the group figured there was no better way to say thank you for his enthusiasm, encouragement and commitment towards the band throughout the last 20 years, than to name the stage after his legacy. Brian Williams was a member of the Canadian Forces Band Service for several years. He had a distinguished career with Canadian Forces bands as Assistant Director of Music with the Vimy Band in Kingston Ontario, the Royal Canadian Regiment Band in Canadian Forces Base, Gagetown, New Brunswick and the Central Band of the Canadian Forces. He was one of the finest leaders in the history of Canadian Forces bands. As a player, he was a trombone soloist extraordinaire. This tremendous honor bestowed upon him is well deserved both for his musical and leadership ability. “We all love him and respect him and just wanted to show him, in the biggest way possible, how much he means to us,” says Rhonda Gletherow, the band’s public relations coordinator. But for Williams, who had a number of relatives visiting from out-of-town when the announcement was made publicly it was all a big surprise. “I was overwhelmed with the whole thing,” he says. “I was speechless. To be recognized by one of the oldest bands in Canada is pretty remarkable in my opinion. I knew they would do something, but I wasn’t expecting anything like this.” It was back in October when Williams announced this summer would be his last with the Reed Band, which annually takes to the stage with its ‘Pops Concerts in the Park’ series. And when the group makes its last of nine performances in August, Williams will put down his wand once and for all, after what he defines as a memorable career with Thorold’s historic band. While Williams’ isn’t putting his entire music career—which started at the early age of 13—to rest, he admits at age 75 he’d like more free time to enjoy leisurely activities. As such, he plans to continue his role as conductor for the Fort Erie Legion Concert Band. The Reed Band, however, which has been performing a regular summer concert series since 1851 in Thorold, is now one of the oldest concert bands in Canada. And what started out as a community-based band of 16 members when Williams took over as conductor in 1992, has gradually blossomed into a band of nearly 50 members today. Williams says that watching the band grow in both size and popularity over the years has been a remarkable accomplishment. It was also under the inspiration of Williams that Pops Concerts in the Park was formed about five years ago. And year after year, the summer tradition has residents of all ages coming out to the Battle of Beaverdams Park every Wednesday night to enjoy a compilation of both old and new popular melodies. That series kicked off again this summer on Wednesday, when band members and the community made the surprise announcement, informing Williams the stage the band takes to annually, is now named in his honour. According to Gletherow, who speaks on behalf of the group of musicians, it’s been Williams’ fervor and constructive criticism that’s been valued most throughout the years. “He’s got a lot of musical background and talent,” she adds. “He’s been able to keep the band light and fun, but at the end of the day it’s still a band practice. “It’s easy to learn from Brian. He’s able to hear what’s wrong but fix it without making anyone feel bad.” But while Reed Band members will be sad to see Williams go when the summer series is through, Gletherow says everyone is happy and supportive of his decision. “He’s still young and he’s got a lot of living to do and a lot of time to spend with his family.” Williams also admits it’s been somewhat bittersweet. “This whole thing’s been a little overwhelming. I’ll just have to come to terms with it I suppose,” he says. Pops Concerts in the Park will be held every Wednesday, weather permitting, for the next eight weeks until August 15. All concerts are free and begin at 7:30 p.m. and run until dusk. This year, Williams says the series will include a number of solo performances by musicians in the Reed Band. He has also invited the City of Thorold Pipe Band to co-perform with the band on a few occasions this summer. Walter Ostanek, the ‘Polka King’ of Canada, will join the Reed Band on a few evenings this summer, along with fiddler Wally Knash, who will be making a return appearance with the band this year. Read the original article here. By Carolyn Goard, Niagara News - Thorold Friday, June 22, 2012 3:07:50 EDT PM Visit the Thorold Reed Concert Band website.