BRIDGEWATER - Fire departments work well together. Inter-agency "mutual aid" has become a fact of life in the fire service; firefighters from different departments regularly train together and respond to emergencies together.
Fire department bands also work well together, and an inter-provincial example of "musical mutual aid" will take centre stage in Bridgewater on Sunday, May 21 at the Bridgewater United Church when the Bridgewater Fire Department Band (BFD) welcomes the Calgary Fire Department "Cappy Smart Concert Band" to town. The concert will begin at 3 p.m. and admission is by donation.
The BFD Band was contacted by trip organizers last December about the possibility of a joint performance with the Calgary band as part of their Maritime tour this month. Things evolved quickly, and the venue was set as the Bridgewater United Church, just a block or two away from the Bridgewater Fire Hall, where the BFD Band rehearses every week.
The Calgary Fire Service "Cappy Smart" Band was formed by City of Calgary Fire Chief James "Cappy" Smart in the late 1800s as a "cultural diversion" for fire department members and for the community at large.
The band performed at a wide variety of functions until 1914 when the entire band volunteered to fight in the Great War. It was re-established almost 80 years later, with a mixture of professional and amateur members, and a few retired firefighters as well.
Today, the band's 50 members represent a variety of musical backgrounds and experience, and provide musical support for Calgary Fire Department functions for many charities and non-profit organizations alike.
Conductor Earl Paddock studied music at the University of Calgary and University of Missouri. A recipient of numerous provincial and national honours, he led school and community bands during his 30-year career as a music educator in the Calgary school system. Before his appointment as director of the Cappy Smart Band in 2013, Mr Paddock was the conductor of the Calgary Wind Symphony and the executive director of the Calgary Stetson Show Band.
For their portion of the combined concert, the Calgary band has prepared a program of works for concert band by Canadian composers from 1896 to the present.
The BFD band has been a part of the civic and cultural life of Nova Scotia since 1868 when it was founded as the Bridgewater Brass Band, doubling as the Band of the 68th Regiment of Infantry.
Now proud to be musical ambassadors of the volunteer fire service, the 28 members of the BFD Band also receive training in first aid and basic firefighting skills. Later this summer they will travel to Belgium, Holland, and France to play at several Canadian and Commonwealth war memorial sites, culminating with being featured at the evening service at Ypres's Menin Gate on Aug. 21. Since 2003 the band has been led by Captain Wendell Eisener, both a well-known musician and an experienced fire officer.
The concert begins at 3 p.m. Admission is by free-will donation at the door in support of the ongoing work of the BFD Band or by donation of non-perishable food items for the Bridgewater Interchurch Food Bank.