If you have been a regular Encore Band Concert attender, you probably have heard Al sing.
Al was born in 1937 in Montreal. His original name is Sam Fitleberg. But he would rather be called “Al Farrell”. Al likes to sing popular songs of the 70s, 80s, 90s, such as “My Way”, “New York, New York”, “Walking My Baby”. He captures the attention of his audiences with his warm gestures, and makes you feel that you are part of the family.
Here is a video of Al, talking about his music life, and his personal life, and how he faces adversities in Life.
“London Police Boys Band gave me my first instrument at the age of 8 and taught me how to play it.”
— Words from Tom Fleming —
Following the passing of our long time President Tom Robins, the “Encore Symphonic Concert Band” has elected Tom Fleming of the French horn section to try to fill the sizeable whole left in the band’s operations by his absence.
Tom has been playing French horn since the age of eight, when he joined the “London Police Boys Band”, a group formed by the London Police Dept. to help keep young boys off the street and out of trouble. The band gave Tom his first instrument and taught him how to play it and that began a lifelong love affair with music that saw him playing professionally for the first time at the age of ten in the “London Civic Symphony Orchestra”. Tom has been a card carrying musician’s union member for the 66 years that have passed since then.
Though Tom enjoyed a long and rewarding career in the advertising business, he always maintained his avocation in music playing in orchestras, bands, recording studios and musical show orchestra pits in numerous cities in Canada. He still remains active as a player playing regularly in 2 Orchestras, The Encore Band and a Double wind quintet. He also plays in the pit for the occasional Broadway type musical when retained by theater groups to do so.
Tom is honoured to have been entrusted with this post by his colleagues and pledges to endeavour to fulfill his responsibilities to the band with the same degree of dedication and equanimity so aptly achieved by his predecessor.
John Edward Liddle is Encore Band’s conductor. He is also the heart and soul of the band.
John brings a world of experience and diversity to Encore Band.
John’s story starts like this…
Coming from small town Ontario (Carleton Place), not really a hotbed of raw musical talent and insight, John’s musical battle was uphill up the way. Let’s face it, hockey was the only game in town! In fact the high school started their music program in grade 12. Yikes!
Armed with only piano lessons and a stint with the Marching Saints Drum and Bugle Corps on g-f bugle, he was seen immediately as a musical prodigy by his new grade 12 music teacher David Ennis (fresh out of the University of Western Ontario). John was declared a natural trumpet player by Mr. Ennis, and was taken immediately to Robert Oades, one of Canada’s finest trumpet teachers, for lessons. Mr. Oades determined that John was the worst grade 12 trumpet player that he had ever heard but took pity on John and immediately took him to trumpet boot camp (one hour lessons of scales, drills, repertoire and the dreaded transposition)…and he only demanded 4 hours of practice a day. (“If you want to catch up to your cohort you must work hard!!!!”)
John’s hard work has paid off and he still carries that work ethic today. From playing the Last Post for the Carleton Place Legion (2 months after picking up the trumpet) to conducting and soloing with the Toronto Symphony, his enthusiasm on stage is electric.
After high school John chose a nontraditional route for his professional education, Humber College. The Humber College Music Department in 1979 was turning out the finest players in Canada and still is. While there he played solos for Howard Cable, Bram Smith, and Don Johnson (all very respected and well known musicians). He graduated with honours, one of the 35 graduates weeded out from the 300 students entering the music program.
John has been a prolific player: jazz bands (with leaders Steve Garrick, Paul Grosney, and Eddy Graff), classical groups (North York Symphony, Etobicoke Symphony), and 12 years with the 7th Toronto Regiment Royal Canadian Artillery. John has also had many solo appearances with The Chinese Symphony, The Etobicoke Philharmonic, and the Counterpoint Orchestra, to name a few. During his time with the Etobicoke Philharmonic John met and studied conducting with maestro Tak Ng Li. From there he became the assistant conductor for Mr Li, eventually becoming the interim conductor of the Chinese Youth Orchestra.
John’ s conducting career has been astounding and includes The Toronto Symphony, The Buffalo Philharmonic, The Etobicoke Philharmonic, and the North York Concert Orchestra. John continues to conduct several concert bands including The Encore Band as well as The North York and The Etobicoke Community Concert Bands.
John Edward Liddle is one of the most experienced and talented individuals on the podium today. He loves to have fun with both the music and the musicians and it is his great honour to conduct the Encore Symphonic Concert Band.
Eddie Graf is a member of Encore Band. He is also a well known and beloved saxophone player, band leader, composer, arranger.
Eddie Graf is also dad to Toronto Musician Lenny Graf, who also plays in the Encore Band.
Lenny Graf talked about his dad, Eddie Graf: …..He played and wrote for the Army Show during WWII where he met his wife Bernice, also known as “Bunny” to her friends. He then came back to Toronto to write for many CBC and USA TV and Radio shows, including Juliette, Gordie Tapp, Tommy Hunter and I’ve seen his band play for Rich Little, Bob Hope and Dina Shore among many others.
(I had the pleasure of playing in the band for many of these)….
Eddie Graf Bio
Eddie Graf has been described by musicians, bandleaders and music producers as one of North America’s most gifted and versatile musical arrangers, as well as a fine clarinet/sax player and bandleader. He came from a musical family during the Great Depression. He began writing arrangements for local groups at an early age, continuing on during the Second World War, entertaining troops overseas. During the Big Band Era, he was influenced as a clarinetist by the works of Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman, and many of the great arrangers from radio, TV and stage, as well as the works of the great classical composers, including his favorites, Bach, Mozart, Rachmaninoff and Debussy.
Eddie’s arrangements and recordings have been featured on countless TV, radio and stage productions across North America. He has arranged music for Maureen Forester, Dick Haymes, Juliette, Tommy Hunter and for Frank Sinatra when he performed in Toronto. A popular band leader, Eddie has performed with such stars as Victor Borge, Jack Jones, Gordie Tapp, Dinah Shore, Dinah Christie, Sandra O’Neill, Catherine McKinnon and Jerry Vale. He has arranged music for Dal Richards Big Band, Sharon, Lois and Bram, Mart Kenney, Dick Haynes, Henry Questa. Graf was chief arranger on the CBC’s Juliette TV series and Musical Director for The Tommy Hunter Show.Eddie Graf has led bands at the Palais Royale Ballroom, The Royal York Hotel, Stage West Dinner Theatre, Casa Loma, Wonderland Gardens, Toronto’s Metro Convention Centre and has also performed with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
Eddie Graf has received many awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Toronto Musicians’ Association, and is an Honourary Life Member of the Canadian Band Association
Thanks to Mary Wiens, of CBC Metro Mornings, for doing an interview with Eddie Graf