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L.A. Beat

Galt Museum examines community bands

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Lethbridge has a long history of community band, so Galt Museum archives assistant Trish Purkis wanted to bring that history to life as part of the Archives Exposed program.

“I wanted to showcase unfamiliar anTrish Purkis examines the community bands display. Photo by Richard Ameryd not seen photographs,” Purkis said adding sometimes the Archives Exposed program is connected to the main display in the main gallery, other times, like this time, it is a labour of love.

“ I actually started it because I wanted to find out when I started playing in the Lethbridge Kiwanis Band in the 1960s,” said Purkis, who plays clarinet in the Lethbridge Community band, which turns 25 this year.

After finding out she joined the band in 1963, she was surprised how little information was available about community bands in Lethbridge, so she started making a file by going through newspaper clippings and exploring the archives.

“I started playing clarinet with the band in 1963 and like most people I gave it up while I pursued my career, until 1987 when I dusted off the clarinet to see if I could still play,” she said.

Upon searching the archives, she found an old German horn that was used in Lethbridge’s POW camp during the Second World War. She also called her friend Betty Upton who lent several items to the display. Lethbridge Community Band Society member Josh Schultz lent a beautiful saxophone from 1919.

The exhibit includes two instruments, five band books and lesson books, a conductor’s baton and musical score and a half dozen musical accessories including a metronome, a slide and instrument cleaning liquid.

 She was surprised by how little information was available about community bands and a couple other things.
“The city used to own instruments which they lent to community bands on the condition that they returned them when the band folded,” she said.

Some things never change.

“Bands usually folded due to lack of community support and lack of finances. They were always doing fund-raising concerts for new instruments and uniforms,” she observed.
The exhibit has been running until the summer and will run until the end of September.
 The display is open during Galt Museum’s regular operating hours, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. though the archives are closed on the weekend. Thursday is the best day to see it as that is when the archives are open until 9 p.m.. The display will be up until Oct. 25.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
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