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Our GCB Rocks concert was a huge success! We played some fantastic music with our guests Fahrenheit, and host Chris Batstone kept us entertained between songs with some great stories and anecdotes. We raised a record amount of money (compared to previous Downtown Pops concerts) for our partner charity, the Association for New Canadians. The link below should bring you to the live stream version of the concert. We will replace this as soon as possible with a version with higher quality audio, and this site will be updated to reflect the new link.
There have been concert bands in Newfoundland high schools for decades, meaning there are thousands of people out there who have been part of that unique concert band experience. They've experienced the camaraderie and friendships, and the power of creating music in a large ensemble. The collaboration of many individual parts that leads to a cohesive sound, whether it's through a choir, orchestra, or concert band, is an experience that stays with you. Perhaps you are one of those people.
Since the 1950s, no other musical group configuration has captured the public attention like the rock band. From the Beatles to the Foo Fighters, the combination of drums, bass, guitars, keyboards, and vocals have become part of the soundtrack of our lives. The ongoing popularity of classic rock radio stations all over the world is proof of the continuing importance of rock music in our lives.
Throughout the history of rock music, various bands have experimented with other musical styles blended with rock, ranging from blues and jazz to classical and electronic. This has often led to collaborations with other groups and artists to bring the vision of combining these various musical genres to life. Rock bands have played with orchestras and choirs on numerous recordings and live concerts, and the jazz band horn section is present on countless occasions. Just think about the music of Led Zeppelin, Electric Light Orchestra, Chicago, Huey Lewis & The News, and many more of your favourite bands and you'll see those collaborations everywhere.
Strangely, the concert band has been under utilized in the context of collaborations with rock bands. This could be multiple explanations for this lack of collaboration. A concert band does not have string instruments and this may be a sound specifically sought by some rock bands. It could be because there are many more professional orchestras in the world than there are professional concert bands. Ultimately it may be due to the fact that rock bands usually play in sharp keys (G, D, A, and E especially) while concert bands prefer to play in flat keys (F, B flat, and E flat especially). In many ways the concert band is a better fit with a rock band because of the increased power present in the concert band, with its large number of brass and woodwind instruments. The GCB will be playing arrangements in those sharp keys in order to make that connection with the rock band and add to the collective total of concert band and rock band collaborations worldwide.
The Gower Community Band is an advanced amateur band and consists of approximately 40 musicians playing at a high level. We are excited about this collaboration and are already hard at work on our parts.
Fahrenheit is a 5-piece band based in the St. John's area. They have been playing conventions, parties, weddings, and public events for over a decade. Their long-standing commitment to sounding as close as possible to the original recordings in their live shows has won them many fans, and makes them a perfect fit for this collaborative process.
The GCB and Fahrenheit will play three songs together.
The first will be Paul McCartney & Wings' classic hit Live and Let Die from the James Bond movie of the same name. The original orchestration by George Martin is central to the song's long-standing success and has been carefully rewritten for the concert band format. The song reached #2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1973 and was the first Bond theme song nominated for an Academy Award. From the powerful trombone notes to the soaring piccolo lines, this piece will be an exciting opener to our collaboration.
Next up will be Toto's hit Africa, which hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1983. From the opening percussion to the brassy chords and woodwinds, this song is a perfect fit for a our collaboration. With over 850 million YouTube video views and over a billion streams on Spotify, it remains a hugely popular song with millions of people.
We will conclude our concert with Armageddon, by Canadian band Prism. Though not as commercially successful as the previous two numbers, it is still a staple on Canadian classic rock radio stations, including local stations Coast 101.1 and K-Rock. At almost 8 minutes long, it includes an epic orchestral opening and closing providing the framework around the rock band section. This one has everything... beautiful French Horn melodies, soaring vocals, full band punches, and powerful timpani rolls.
This show will be a live experience you'll remember for years to come.
As part of our Downtown Pops Concert Series, this concert is free. For each of our concerts in this series we partner with a local charity, so your donations to the partner charity are gratefully accepted in lieu of admission. For our GCB Rocks concert on May 7 we are partnering with the Association for New Canadians who do amazing work with people arriving in Canada via Newfoundland and Labrador.
The concert begins at 3:00 on Sunday May 7th, so put it in your calendar now. We are happy to have Chris Batstone as our Master of Ceremonies for the afternoon. Chris's knowledge of rock history and trivia has earned him the title of "Professor of Rock", and his incredible public speaking experience and voice work make him an ideal choice for this one-of-a-kind concert.