Not only is this a busy season for parade-goers and shoppers, but it is also one of the busiest seasons for the Newmarket Citizens Band.
From here until the end of the holiday season, the band will be part of many local Santa Claus parades. For band members, this is one of the more magical times of the year.
Along the route and most often leading the way for the big man in red himself, the band plays holiday classics and crowd favourites.
“At that moment, when you see the kids smiling and singing, you don’t feel cold,” the band’s musical director Les Saville said. “You can feel the excitement building from the crowd.”
While band members have to learn the repertoire, they also have to lean how to march and play at the same time.
It is Mr. Saville’s job to ensure all players are in sync and in step.
“Marching is basic,” said Mr. Saville, who grew up playing with the Salvation Army in Sheffield, England.
“We all know it is all left-right-left, but when turning a corner, the inside line needs to take smaller steps.”
When not on parade, the band, with some 50 members, is on tour performing throughout the region at retirement homes, concerts in the park and various competitions.
At the head of it all stands Mr. Saville with his conductor’s wand, counting beats and dictating the music with the move of his arms.
The band, with a 139-year history, plays a varied mix of classical music, specialty band pieces, rock arrangements, Glee inspired and re-popularized songs and songs from the Broadway classic Jersey Boys.
“If we didn’t have a varied program, we would limit our audience,” Mr. Saville said.
“We play something all the band members would enjoy playing, from the high school kids to their parents.”
Although his back is to the audience, he thrives on the live performances.
“That’s when everything comes together,” he said.
“It is an amazing feeling to hear something you’ve been trying to produce smoothly for a couple of months come together.”
Mr. Saville’s good-natured guidance has led the band to several first place finishes and gold and platinum standings in the region and nationally.