Vancouver Groove Orchestra is featured at this year’s WestCoast Big Band Festival, from Nov. 15 to 17 at Croatian Cultural Centre in Vancouver. (Photo: vancouvergroove.com)

MUSIC

WestCoast Big Band Festival on the move from Surrey to Vancouver

‘It’s time for our festival to go to the next level,’ organizer says of mid-November event

The WestCoast Big Band Festival is moving out of Surrey for a larger venue in Vancouver.

The autumn event was held at Fleetwood’s Northwood United Church over the past three years, but the 2019 edition will take place at Croatian Cultural Centre, on Commercial Drive, from Nov. 15 to 17.

It’s billed as “the premier performance, networking, and educational event for community big bands in the Vancouver area,” featuring 21 Big Band performances over three days.

Festival organizer Dan Mellor said it wasn’t an easy decision to leave Surrey.

“Northwood was an absolute fantastic place, and the people there were wonderful during our formative years,” he told the Now-Leader. “At the end of the day, it’s time for our festival to go to the next level, to a place that’s bigger than a church.

“We found so many people in the jazz community in the Lower Mainland, many of them were coming from Vancouver,” he added. “Our biggest issue was trying to create an atmosphere and ambiance for people to have dinner and drinks, and we’ll have that now (at Croatian Cultural Centre).”

The inaugural festival was held in Vancouver before event organizers shifted their attention to Surrey’s Northwood for the second year of concerts, in 2016.

Last year, the 350-seat church sanctuary in Fleetwood was filled with 16 bands from around Metro Vancouver, including some that bend and twist the definition of what most people might consider Big Band music.

• RELATED STORY: Disney tunes, metal fusion and more at Surrey’s WestCoast Big Band Festival, from 2018.

Details about the fifth-annual festival are at westcoastbigbandfestival.com.

Christian Morrison, a co-founder and former organizer of the festival, has helped create Sister Jazz Orchestra, an all-woman jazz ensemble of 18 musicians. The new orchestra’s first-ever performance will be at WestCoast Big Band Festival, as part of a “festival finale” on Nov. 17.

“We are the first all-women professional jazz orchestra in Canada, and we expect to create quite a buzz,” Morrison said. “This is an amazing group of the most accomplished jazzwomen in Vancouver, with a mission of being visible role models to the next generation.”

Other festival highlights this year include an opening-night Swing Dance party with two bands, a headline concert by Vancouver Groove Orchestra on Saturday, Nov. 16, and a keynote address by New Orleans-based drummer Don Caro, who as a child was badly burned in a gasoline explosion and later became a professional musician.

Both community and professional big bands are featured at the festival. Musicians at all levels will also benefit from free jazz improvisation workshops by leading jazz educators, promises a post on the event website. Performances and workshops are all free except for the evening concerts. Proceeds from the festival are donated to the Fraser McPherson Jazz Fund, to benefit up-and-coming jazz musicians.

Morrison, who lives in North Vancouver, recently stepped down as director of Mighty Fraser Big Band, after eight years of working with the Surrey-based ensemble, to focus on developing Sister Jazz Orchestra. She still makes her way to Surrey for meetings of the Coast Capital Savings’ board of directors.

“I’ve been on the Coast board for over 10 years,” she explained. “In fact, my work at Coast Capital was part of the inspiration for creating the Sister Jazz Orchestra.… I chair the Human Resources Committee and we’ve done a lot of work on diversity and inclusion, with a particular focus over the past couple of years on developing women for leadership roles. It was the launch event for a newly-created Coast Capital’s Business Women’s Network (CWBN) about 18 months ago that inspired my ‘Aha!’ moment where I could see my business and musical lives colliding in an all-female professional jazz orchestra with a mission of showcasing, empowering and inspiring women in jazz. To celebrate their inspirational role, the CWBN has organized a group outing to attend the debut of the (Sister Jazz Orchestra) at the festival.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Eagles start playoffs on the road in Chilliwack

South Surrey junior ‘A’ squad back in BCHL playoffs for second time in six years

White Rock woman says blocking ‘service dog’ from transit a denial of human rights

White Rock’s Lisa Arlin says guide-dog certification is voluntary

White Rock’s Coldest Night raises $102K

390 walkers participated in seventh-annual event

Girls, women try their hand at marine rescue in Surrey

Achieve Anything Foundation, RCMSAR Crescent Beach host ‘Operation: This IS You! Saving Lives at Sea’

VIDEO: 2020 BC Winter Games wrap up in Fort St. John as torch passes to Maple Ridge

More than 1,000 athletes competed in the 2020 BC Winter Games

Two scout leaders missing near Sooke after swollen creek traps troop

Third leader and scouts located, while search continues for two leaders who’d gone for help

Snowfall warning in effect for the Coquihalla Highway

An unstable airmass is producing heavy flurries over parts of the southern highway passes

B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

Fraser Health warns some schools of possible COVID-19 exposure

A sixth COVID-19 patient is a woman in her 30s in the Fraser Health region who recently returned from Iran

Harvey Weinstein found guilty of sex crimes in landmark #MeToo trial

The cases against the Hollywood mogul started the #MeToo movement

Initial police report of 2015 accident was ‘inaccurate’ Langley RCMP say

Online statement issued to clarify that victim was not in the middle of the road

CRA puts focus on paper returns as tax-filing season opens

The federal tax collector expects to handle about two million paper returns this calendar year out of roughly 26 million filings

Teck withdraws application for Frontier mine, citing discourse over climate change

The Vancouver-based company said it will take a $1.13-billion writedown on the Frontier project in Alberta

Most Read