The Muskoka Concert Band was established in 1959 when a group of musicians in Bracebridge became concerned that their conductor of 35 years, John Morra, had retired and they were having difficulty finding a replacement. Wilfred Shier, Less Tennant and Aubrey Shier heard that there was a new surgeon at the Huntsville Hospital, who was also a talented musician. They asked Dr. Lyn Sargeant if he would consider conducting a band made up of musicians from across the district.
When Dr. Sargeant agreed, the Muskoka Concert Band was formed. Musicians from the Huntsville Town Band amalgamated with members of the Bracebridge and Gravenhurt Citizens Bands in the fall of 1959 under Dr. Sargeant's direction, and one of the most successful bands in Muskoka since the Anglo-Canadian Leather Company Band, became a reality. Rehearsals took place every Monday night in the Pumphouse at the Bracebridge Falls. Today's band continues to rehearse on Monday nights, but now at Stevenson Hall in Utterson.
Over its 63 year history, the band has had only five conductors. Dr. Sargeant directed the band for its first 25 years before passing the baton to John Rutherford, then Director of Music at Bracebridge High School. After his brief tenure, Gravenhurst music teacher Kathy Kilbourne, led the band. Upon her retirement in 2005, Neil Barlow took over. In 2019, the band welcomed Fran Harvey to the podium. Fran guided the band through the pandemic when the band was not able to gather in person, and invested an incredible amount of time creating remote video recordings of the band to help keep players connected and playing. She remains the conductor today.
The band now plays throughout the year and has expanded the season by performing a complete summer series throughout the District of Muskoka, with repertoire ranging from classical to rock. The band has competed at the Kiwanis Music Festival may times and has won the Stars of the Festival Award.
Today, forty-five talented musicians play in the band, but we are always looking for new members. If you are interested, please click here for more information.