By 1986, the Handsworth Bands were winning festivals. They always qualified for the Canadian Stage and Concert Band Festival, aka The Nationals because they always won a regional festival. They didn’t always go though because Bob Rebagliati preferred sometimes to visit a music festival in faraway places such as Florida or New Orleans or even Hawaii. But he always tried to attend a music festival to challenge his band members and make them even better players than they already were and they were already pretty good.
ABOVE: Camp Miriam Each September, senior members of the Handsworth bands would attend a weekend retreat on Galiano Island. It was a getting to know one another weekend and included lots of fun but also some rehearsal time. A guest conductor and guest soloists were often invited as well. This year, Morrie Bachun from Ward’s Music on Hastings Street was in attendance.
ABOVE: October, October was usually set aside for the annual Homecoming Concert. Alumni would come back to reminisce and revisit old acquaintances. They all came together and performed as well and talked about past glories with Bob Rebagliati and the other music educators.
ABOVE: Xmas Concert The Sweet Music Concert at Handsworth was always a big treat. This was their annual Christmas Concert and the big gym was all dressed up complete with Christmas tree.
ABOVE: Capilano Mall, Bob always liked to play in the community. Capilano Mall was a regular stop on his community concert schedule. It was important to let the community see what was going on within the halls of Handsworth school, at least in the music department.
ABOVE: Centennial Theatre Concert, The Juzt Jazz Concert at Cenntenial Theatre in North Vancouver was the first big concert of the new year, held in February.
ABOVE: Hyak Festival This was one of the regional festivals that Bob always entered in order to place his bands in The Nationals. A win here, assured them of a spot.
ABOVE: Western Washington University Jazz Festival But their were other festivals as well such as this one which they didn’t often enter.
As often is the case with world expositions, they offer an interesting venue in which to hold a music festival, as was the case with the Chicagoland Band Festival at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1933. EXPO 86 was one of those venues so the Canadian Stage and Concert Band Festival was held at EXPO 86 in Vancouver in the summer of 1986. It offered something out of the ordinary for competing bands. Bands could play at venues around the fair for the crowds, as well as compete. Everything was on an international scale and included a visit by lots of celebrities and British royalty, Princess Diana and Prince Charles.
ABOVE: EXPO 86
ABOVE: Canadian Stage and Concert Band Festival, aka The Nationals
Handsworth’s bands were in great form for this contest. Expo 86 put Vancouver on the map and the Nationals put the Handsworth music program on the map. Handsworth won no less than three gold awards. Their Senior Jazz Band took a gold, first place against twenty-seven other bands. Their Junior Jazz Band came first out of fourteen other bands. And their Intermediate A Concert Band won gold, competing against twenty-seven bands.
ABOVE: Honor band members with educators Mary Hume Bachun top left and Bob Rebagliati, top right.
Top students made it into the B.C. Honor Band as seen above. Michiko Singh on the french horn went on to play in several symphony orchestras both home and abroad.
Two books on the Handsworth Bands will be available in the summer of 2020. They will cover the entire program from the 1960s to 2020.