Board of Directors
Feel free to communicate with any of the volunteer elected board leaders via firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Mike Garrett
- John Groeneveld
- Cathy Harrop
- Tim Morris
- Heather Reese
- Wayne Schneider
- Karen Wohlfarth
- Robert Woodward
The Valley Winds was started in the fall of 1994. Bob Aishford, who was then the president of the Rotary Club of Canmore, went to his club with the idea of starting a band in Canmore as a legacy project. Music and bands had been a big part of Canmore’s history during the coal mining days. The Rotary Club agreed to give the band the initial seed money to launch the first season. Bob continues to play sax and serve on the VWMA board to this day.
The goal during the first couple of years was simple. Let’s have fun and make music. Interested participants were encouraged to look in their closets for an instrument that they or possibly a family member used to play. In order to “level the field”, participants were not allowed to play an instrument on which they were already proficient. That requirement no longer exists, which has helped improve performance quality, yet it was a wonderfully empowering method to gain early participants.
The choir and jazz band were added in the fall of 1995. There are currently over 110 paying musicians in all three groups, with approximately 15-20% playing in more than one. Winter and spring concerts, typically with all the groups on the program, are much acclaimed. Often the choir will perform at the hospital, senior’s lodge and on special holidays. The big band has had the opportunity to play at fund raising events and as a dance band for local functions. The first year of the Canmore International Jazz Festival saw the Valley Winds Big Band play with renowned Canadian saxophonist P.J. Perry on stage in Canmore. A gig at the Banff Centre’s jazz club was a highlight of the 2009 season. The spring Blow Out in May sees several concert and big band style jazz bands from the Canmore and Calgary area perform in the afternoon sun on the Stan Roger’s Stage at Canmore’s Centennial Park.
The 20th Anniversary concerts in 2014 on May 2 at the Canmore Golf and Curling Club, and May 4 at the Eric Harvie Theatre of The Banff Centre, included an original composition as commissioned by the VWMA from renowned Canadian composer, Jeff Christmas. A mass choir, concert and big bands performed “Rainbow Through the Rain” in tribute to the resiliency of our communities as demonstrated with the recovery efforts from the harsh June 2013 weather. Special invited guests included families most affected and heavy equipment operators and owners who so significantly staved off what could have been even more severe damage to property, infrastructure, and peoples’ lives. The piece was professionally recorded and edited by Glen Crawford Productions and is currently available on the Tribute page of this VWMA website to inspire community pride and camaraderie for posterity.
With such an esteemed legacy, please plan now to join us as audience, financial supporter, or additional performer. We welcome and appreciate your participation in any manner.