Music Festival

I’m a better writer than musician, but I got the job as Executive Director of the Winnipeg Music Festival. The president called me as I was on my way to China for a tour with 30 passengers in tow. I was elated!

The festival is a huge springtime event in Winnipeg at the end of the school year when school choirs and individual music students compete for top honours. Many venues are used, but the biggest was the old Winnipeg Auditorium.

I sang in the festival when I was young. Things got very boring when one after another young pianist would play a Chopin etude, or countless kids would sing the same song.

The upper halls of the auditorium were lined with glass showcases installed by the Hudson’s Bay Company, telling the story of western Canada exploration. As a kid I would sneak out of the concert hall and wander through the exhibits.

I sang in the Winnipeg Boys Choir. My cousin Betty sang in the Winnipeg Girls Choir. There was keen competition between the two, both conducted by a Beth – Beth Douglas (boys) and Beth Cruikshank (girls). My Beth had flaming red hair and all us boys had crushes on her.

Years later, when I took over running the daily affairs of the WMF for a year, I often reminisced on earlier days with the board members at parties.

Another opportunity came up, a writing job this time, so I decided to leave that office, which was in the old Playhouse on Market Avenue, being renovated.

My last memory was driving past the Playhouse the evening of the opening of the new Playhouse.

The mayor drove up from City Hall in a horse-drawn carriage.

My oldest grandson Justin Albo played the bass clarinet in the WMF while in high school, so I told him the story.

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