CANMORE – Gifted musician Bob Aishford’s contribution to the local music scene has created a near 30-year legacy with the Valley Winds Music Association.
It was an opportunity for locals to showcase their musical talents in the Big Band before the music group adopted a jazz band and choir in 1995.
“It’s wonderful to be a part of a music community where there are choirs and bands coming together to share music skills and talents and learn from each other,” said Rob Curry, president of the Valley Winds Music Association.
Now, they have two choirs, Men of the Mountain and Choir CHORDillera alongside their concert band and jazz band. Altogether, there are 120 musicians and singers projecting their sound in the valley.
“We were heavily dependent on a community of volunteers, and they have graciously stepped forward each time to ensure that our performances and our organization as a whole is all that it can be serving the community in terms of its musical needs,” said Curry.
On Dec. 3, they are hosting their annual winter concert located at the Malcolm Hotel in the Edinburgh Ballroom. The concert features all their musical groups and seats an audience of around 300.
“It’s been well received by the community and in many aspects expected by the community because it is bringing all these musicians together from across the Bow Valley who have been practicing since September and will use this as one of the major performances of the year,” Curry said.
The concert is already sold out this year, but there are more events on the horizon.
The Valley Winds Christmas Carollers will be at the Malcolm Hotel Dec. 1 and 24 from 6:30 to 7 p.m.
On Dec. 13, Men of the Mountain will be singing at the Festival of Trees for the seniors Christmas tea from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Malcolm Hotel.
Jazzy Christmas will be back on Dec. 16 at the Canmore Legion and serves as a fundraiser for the Canmore food bank.
“You get this great performance of the Big Band and vocalist and you’ve got a whole different group of people that are there listening is really quite fascinating,” said Anne Forbes, co-producer for the winter concert.
The group has been expressing their art to the community with a multitude of concerts.
In 2013, they put together a concert called “Rainbow Through the Rain” paying tribute to the flood that the community endured.
“It was basically celebrating that we came out of this flood intact and we’re joyous that we’re moving on,” said Forbes.
They took to the underground world in 2015 to put together a unique concert series in Rat’s Nest Cave inside Grotto Mountain. The concerts involved a night hike through Grotto Canyon to reach the cave where the choir and audience descended 10 storeys underground.
“Most of us are used to being active outdoors. But let me tell you, that was a surprise when I had to use ropes to go down and up. But anyway, we made it, and you know the community loved it,” said Forbes.
Throughout the year, they also host annual concerts like Big Band Dance and Spring Blow Out.
Next year marks 30 years of music with a concert in April at the Banff Centre, which will feature both bands and choirs.