Banner - Members of Big Smoke Brass with BA students

In building back its music program, Bishop Allen Music saw the return of its annual Winter Band Camp and its first ever PLAY IT FORWARD concert series. BA Music held its annual Band Camp in early February and then throughout semester 2, visiting artists, clinicians, music educators from outside the TCDSB worked and performed for BA students and students from visiting elementary schools. After the concerts which were open to all the school community, bands and artists then delivered workshops for the BA music students after each performance.

The Play it Forward Concert Series was created by music teacher and Department Head Davide Garofalo to give students a positive first-hand experience in listening to live music and taking part in masterclasses. And just as important, the concert series was designed to help serve and support BA’s School Improvement and Equity Plan with the idea that the healing power of music can address mental health, well being, diversity and inclusivity in a positive way when it is being presented from groups and communities based on cultures in which students can identify with.

The Play it Forward Concert Series brought three great shows and workshops to Bishop Allen on three different dates throughout Semester 2. Each concert gave students first hand experience of hearing the sounds, rhythms and stories from many different musical styles. Students had the opportunity to better understand and appreciate the cultural diversity surrounding us through the music they were hearing.

Big Smoke Brass performed at BA’s Winter Band Camp and then again on April 12 at Bishop Allen Academy. Invited guests St. Cecilia Catholic School, along with the BA students, enjoyed a high energy performance put on by one of Canada's up and coming professional brass bands where improvisation and original arrangements of popular contemporary music were at the heart of the performance. Following the concert the band spoke with several of our music students about everything from the music business, ideas on what it takes to make it, post secondary studies in music, the importance of keeping creativity alive and much much more!

Grade 12 student Andrew Raymond jamming with Big SMoke Brass

Members of Big Smoke Brass with BA students

On May 5, the Oscar Peterson Program Orchestra performed for BA and students from Holy Angels Catholic School. This concert featured music from BIPOC composers and arrangers and featured students in grades 6 - 12 performing alongside professional musicians and students acting as mentors. This included people from the Royal Conservatory of Music and the Glenn Gould School of Music. Students had the opportunity to work with conductor and Director of Laurier Wind Orchestra LaToya Webb and Director/Percussionist/Instructor from Cassava Latin Rhythms Rodrigo Chavez.

Members of the Oscar Peterson Program and Bishop Allen students

Dr Laytoya Webb in workshop with BA Varsity Band

On June 1, Bishop Allen was proud to host The Queer Songbook Orchestra for its first performance within the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB). This professional ensemble is dedicated to performing music from world famous artists, composers and arrangers who identify as part of the 2SLGBTQ+ community. Following this great performance, students had a workshop with both vocal and band students where they created an original arrangement performing alongside members of QSO.

Members of QSO performing at BA

To wrap up the series, the Bishop Allen grade 11 and 12 students traveled to Holy Angels, where they now took on the role of the mentoring band and presented an interactive concert and workshop to a younger audience of grade 6 - 8 students from Holy Angels. The band performed a set of jazz and contemporary music which featured different soloists, and improvisers and gave insight into the music they were performing. 

Bishop Allen Senior Music students performing at Holy Angels

Mr. Garofalo and the administration at Bishop Allen Academy would like to extend a heartfelt debt of gratitude to Rachel Allen and the Experiential Learning program for their financial support of the Play It Forward Concert Series at Bishop Allen.  Special thanks to all the performers, music students and elementary music students who took part in the Play it Forward Concert Series!