January 15th, 2021

Lethbridge Community Band to celebrate women in music

By Jensen, Randy on March 7, 2020.

Dawn Leite

Lethbridge Community Band Society

International Women’s Day was first recognized on March 8, 1910, honouring working women. Over the decades, March 8 has become a beacon for events recognizing women and their contributions in every facet of society. The Lethbridge Community Band Society is celebrating the contribution of women in music through its International Women’s Day concert tonight. The concert will feature all women composers and conductors from the local and national stage.

Five women conductors will take the stage tonight, conducting the LCI Gold Symphonic Band and Lethbridge Community Gold Band. Local women conductors Tanya Arnold, Karly Lewis and Karen van de Vendel, will share the stage with Dr. Gillian MacKay and Cait Nishimura, both of whom are in Lethbridge this weekend from Toronto.

Karen van de Vendel, a former music educator in the Lethbridge region, reflects on women in music.

“When was the last time a band – junior, high school or community band – has performed music written by a woman? It’s hard to recall. Perhaps 10 years ago with the Community Band. And that isn’t including ‘Hockey Night in Canada,’ which was composed by a woman and arranged by Howard Cable, someone we’ve had a deep relationship with before his passing a few years ago.

“And when you think about the women conductors in our community, there are very few women who are conductors of bands in Lethbridge. It’s a tough gig for women. There will always be the additional pressures of maintaining the household, child care and maintaining a professional career. However, this concert will allow us to have a conversation about making space for women in music.

“There is a significant opportunity for the growth of women, composers and conductors. There is also the opportunity for conductors of band programs to dedicate time to featuring the incredibly fantastic work being done by women.”

When asked about the challenges women face in the music world, Dr. Gillian MacKay, professor of Music at the University of Toronto, has this to say: “I think it’s the same as the challenges of being a woman in any traditional, hierarchical white-male-dominated field. The slow integration of female players into professional orchestras in the 20th century has been well documented, and real steps have been taken toward levelling that playing field. But male-dominated professional ensembles have been exceedingly reluctant to accept musical leadership from a woman. So that’s all just a bit tiresome, in 2020. Like so many things, it’s better than it was, and not as good as it should be.”

The performance intends to showcase how women have contributed to the traditional wind band world. Very talented women have written great music.

“It is my hope that this Woman’s Day concert will celebrate and promote the achievements of women composers and conductors. It’s time that their contributions to the art and craft of music are fully recognized. By acting locally, we hope to highlight these ‘sheroes’ and encourage the next generation of young women to take up the torch,” says LCBS Gold Band conductor Mark Ward.

The Lethbridge Community Band Society presents its International Women’s Day Concert tonight at 7 p.m. at College Drive Church. Tickets are still available for $15 at the door.

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