Story and Photography by: Heidi Hopf

The music scene in our surrounding area has some amazing gems tucked away in its many nooks and crannies. This past week I was fortunate enough to dive into one of the nooks and find a jewel I hadn’t known existed.

Hidden away in the dead end of Marlborough Street lies the Brantford School of Instrumental Music. If you happen by there on a Wednesday evening you might just find yourself swept up in the beautiful sounds of The Brantford Community Symphony Orchestra having their weekly rehearsal.

The Brantford Community Symphony Orchestra (BCSO) began five years ago when the late Karl Langton decided to honour his mother’s desire to have a place in Brantford where anyone could go and play in an orchestra regardless of age or experience.

In 2012 Langton asked Deb McLoughlin to join him in his endeavours and fill the position of conductor of the orchestra. That September they began putting out advertisements and arranged to use the rehearsal space at the Brantford Instrumental School of Music; BCSO would later join them as one of their performing groups. Before they knew it, they had 45 members and were up and running with weekly rehearsals and two large performances a year.

These pieces require a lot of preparation. If we scheduled more concerts we would be able to do more easy frilly stuff, but we want to dig into some of the classical repertoire. For the January concert, we are preparing some Brahms and some Rossini and those are things that take a long time to get ready.” Said conductor Deb McLoughlin.

Karl Langton was wise to choose McLoughlin to hold the position of conductor. She brings more than enough experience to the table both musically and academically. McLoughlin is a multi-instrumentalist, focusing on the trumpet since she was the young age of eleven. After studying music at a university level she went on to finish schooling to become a high school music teacher in her mid 30’s.

From there, her journey took her into administration when she became principal at Paris District High School. During that time, she didn’t allow her love of music to go unattended. She kept more than busy conducting community groups in Hagersville as well as playing in bands and producing a number of musical productions.

The aim of the BCSO is to have a safe and welcoming place for people to come who want to play music regardless of age, background or experience. It currently has players ranging from the age of 12 right through to 70 plus years. The group does not hold auditions and also keeps the fee to a minimum in an attempt to keep true to Langton’s hopes of it being welcoming and feasible for everyone. Every player has started with a different level of experience and has something to both learn from and share with the group.

We have a varied level of experience. We have people who have played for 4 years and people who have played for 50 years.” McLoughlin explained. “It is such a very exciting thing to see all of those different people with different levels of experience and different backgrounds come together to make it work when we do a concert. It’s just fantastic!”

Nearing the end of my interview with McLoughlin I couldn’t help but notice that I could feel the love she has for the group radiating off of her as she spoke. I asked her what keeps her so passionate after five years with the Brantford Community Symphony Orchestra.

It’s just so much fun and it brings so much musical joy and satisfaction. The group of people that come out on Wednesday nights are there because they want to play and because they love music. There is a certain kind of energy, enthusiasm, and devotion to the music they are playing.“

The orchestra plays two large shows a year as well as many smaller-scale performances at places like seniors’ centres, Harmony Square and Bell Homestead. These smaller shows are kept on the lighter side playing fun songs most people recognize and famous show tunes.

The Brantford Community Symphony Orchestra will be joining The Brantford Memorial Band for their concert in December. For more information on the BCSO or the Brantford School of Instrumental Music please visit their website