Making beautiful music once again

Roy Thomson Hall comes alive with North Toronto’s musical alumni

Roy Thomson Hall comes alive with North Toronto’s musical alumni

For one evening, 400 alumni of North Toronto Collegiate went back to their musical roots, putting on their white tops and black bottoms and picking up their instruments.

On May 11, they joined together at Roy Thomson Hall in Memories Forever, a look back at music over the years to celebrate the school’s 100th anniversary.

There were alumni from every decade going back to the 1930s. Performers at the mid-May concert included eight alumni who were onstage in the first Maytime Melodies, the school’s annual spring concert, in 1947.

“It’s so amazing that so many generations are coming together to make such beautiful music,” says alumni performer Lora Kikuchi. “We don’t even know each other but being able to perform with people who graduated years ago … it’s really awesome.”

Former vocal teacher Camilla Rayman Bricknell concurred.

“No matter when you leave you always feel a part of it.”

Master of ceremonies Martin Julien, who graduated in 1979, says he was energized by the night’s performances.

“It reaffirms how important music is in my life and important it was when I was at North Toronto and it has continued to be,” he says. “I kind of feel like I’m part of that legacy.”

That legacy has been an intrinsic part of life for most of North Toronto’s existence.

In the early years, music was a purely extracurricular activity with a girl’s choral society, a small orchestra and a cadet band. School bands also contributed to the North Toronto’s social scene by playing at dances.

Teacher Jack Dow brought the first music classes in Ontario to the school in 1946. The experiment succeeded and throughout the decades music at North Toronto continued to grow. Music teachers — from John Porter and Bud Hill to the “Great Triumvirate” of David Ford, Bob Krueger and David Beaton to today’s fabulous teachers — have created many memorable moments.

Alumni from the old school recalled the old auditorium with the duct tape seats, music from L8 — the basement music room — wafting into the library, the small practice room, and the maze at the back of the band room.

At Memories Forever, songs from across the generations were played, including Charles (Bud) Hill’s “17 Broadway,” named for the school’s address and written about the school spirit at North Toronto’s original site. Newer classics, such as “Wood River,” were sung by the choir with a wonderful solo by Lori Nemoy.

“We came back because we love music and we love North Toronto,” says Nemoy. “But it’s coming back to that place that gave us that foundation for our love of music that’s really special.”

The stage band’s “Birdland” was received with thunderous applause, as was the Orchestra’s “Finlandia”.

“I thought it was really, really great. There was such a great vibe in the room,” says Julien. “I was blown away with the quality of instrumentalist in the orchestra. There was some top-notch playing going on.”

The “Memories Forever Medley,” which included selections from past shows, performed by both the Alumni Symphony Orchestra and the Chorus had many alumni in the audience singing along or perking up when their part was performed.

Memories Forever ended the same way musical events have for years at North Toronto, with Sir Ernest Macmillan’s arrangement “God Save the Queen” and the school song.

Around the room alumni had tears in their eyes, smiles on their faces and were belting out the last line of the school song just as they did when they were teenagers:

“N-O-R-T-H TORONTO! Yeah team! Fight! Fight! Fight!”

For additional memories from North Toronto music alumni throughout the years click here.


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Posted: Jun 5 2012 5:24 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto
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