Raymond Baril conducts the Edmonton Winds at one of their first practices in Allard Hall.
Allard Hall provides a musical homecoming for Edmonton ensemble
Almost 45 years ago, dozens of the city’s best woodwind, brass and percussion players came together to form the Grant MacEwan Community College Winds. Renamed the New Edmonton Wind Sinfonia in 1976, and then Edmonton Winds in 2016, the ensemble has now taken up residence in MacEwan University’s Allard Hall.
“We’ve come full circle, in a way,” says Raymond Baril, assistant professor of music who has been the Edmonton Winds conductor since 1999. “Edmonton Winds has always had a connection to MacEwan through our roots and our many players who are alumni and students, and now our connection to the university is also a physical one.”
Looking out the windows of the rehearsal hall on the second floor of Allard Hall, adds Ray, provides not only a beautiful view of the city’s skyline, but also a reminder of Edmonton Winds’ ties to the community.
Finding ways to strengthen connections between the arts and the community is a priority for the Faculty of Fine Arts and Communications (FFAC), says Dr. Allan Gilliland.
“Since we moved into Allard Hall, we’ve been working hard to foster relationships with our community partners,” says Allan, who is the dean of FFAC. “We now have Ballet Edmonton, Pro Coro and Edmonton Winds in Allard Hall, and are actively talking with other community groups about shared spaces.”
These relationships, explains Allan, go beyond rehearsal and performance spaces. Musicians and dancers also make themselves available to a variety of the university’s academic programs, providing students with learning, performance, mentorship and internship opportunities.
In addition to their weekly rehearsals in Allard Hall, Edmonton Winds will also perform in the Betty Andrews Recital Hall on February 23, 2020. Visit EdmontonWinds.com for details.
Here are some images from one of the ensemble’s first rehearsals of 2019/20: