The Mill Creek Colliery Band (MCCB) seeks to promote the British brass band tradition in Western Canada, employing all the traditional instruments of that ensemble.
The name of the band pays homage to the historical connection between 19th century working class northern England, and the brass bands which flourished during that time. The name also refers to a prominent ravine area in Edmonton, itself the site of important coal mining activity in the early days.
The MCCB had its beginnings as a small brass ensemble in 1995, with the first performance broadcast on CBC, June 21, 1996. After this ‘trial by fire’ experience, the band remained for several years as an 11 to 15-member ad hoc group. This all changed in 2001, when the band expanded to a full 25-member group, using the standard instrumentation of the traditional British-style brass band. The band consisted then, as now, of a mixture of professional and serious amateur players, who all share a similar enthusiasm for brass band music and fellowship.
The other significant change in 2001 was the instigation and promotion of their own season of subscription concerts. This popular format includes audience favorites at Christmas, as well as a seasons finale, ‘the last night of the proms’. During each subsequent season, the MCCB has continued to broaden its audience base, with invitational appearances at festivals and other community events.
Most concerts are held in Edmonton with occasional visits to other towns and cities in north-central Alberta, such as successful concerts in the communities of St. Albert, Spruce Grove, Sherwood Park, Fort Saskatchewan, Bonnyville, Leduc, Cold Lake, and Rocky Mountain House.
In 2005 and 2010, the band traveled to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to participate in the Prairie Brass Band Festival, and hosted the Festival in 2004 in and 2012 Edmonton. We also regularly perform at festivals, schools, and community events (e.g., CBC Radio Turkey Drive and Celebrate the Season).
The MCCB was invited to perform before HRH The Queen, during the Alberta Centennial Celebrations in May 2005. In October 2010, the band was the featured musical guest for the 40th Anniversary Gala of the Cheremosh Ukrainian Dance Company (Edmonton).
In 2007, the band released its first CD, ‘Introducing the Mill Creek Colliery Band’, followed by ‘Celebrate Christmas’ (2009), ‘Blaze Away’ (2014), and ‘Spiritual Brass’ (2014).
The band has also featured a number of guest performers including Jens Lindemann (trumpet), Robert Venables (cornet), Curtis Metcalf (euphonium), Andrew Poirier (trombone), Greenwood Singers, Edmonton Swiss Men’s Choir, Edmonton Youth Choir, Ritchie Trombone Choir, EKOSingers, Edmonton Ukrainian Male Chorus, King’s University Choir, Clan MacNaughton Pipe Band, and Bethel Lutheran Church Choir.
The MCCB has been honored to be associated with a number of fine conductors. The internationally renowned Canadian composer, Malcolm Forsyth, was the principal conductor of the band from 2002 – 2004. Local conductor and violinist, Aaron Au, conducted the band from 2004-2006. Dr. Forsyth returned as principal conductor from 2006 until his death in 2011. Since 2011 the principal conductor of the band has been Mr. David Hoyt.
As well, the MCCB has been fortunate to work with several well-known brass band conductors who have made guest appearances with the band. These include distinguished British conductor and composer Derek Broadbent, Canadian conductor and band trainer, Bram Gregson, and Canadian brass band composer and conductor Kevin Norbury. Kevin also wrote a commissioned work ‘A Celebratory Overture’ for the band that was premiered in 2005. The band has also premiered a number of compositions and arrangements from the pen of Dr. Malcolm Forsyth and several arrangements by members of the band.
In an effort to promote brass banding, the MCCB is available for performances at special events (workshops, festivals, school concerts, etc.).