Band tattoos and celebrations had been held sporadically in Waterloo nicely earlier than 1932.
Nevertheless, following that 12 months’s triumphant spectacular, a collection of annual band festivals tremendously boosted the city’s profile. Professor Charles F. Thiele’s imaginative and prescient, drive and keenness made Waterloo’s festivals one of the best within the nation. In hindsight, Thiele’s Thirties’ festivals will also be seen as a beacon of cheer for locals within the Nice Despair. Then, as the last decade waned, they helped attune folks to approaching struggle.
The Waterloo Musical Society (WMS) was 50 years outdated in 1932. Methods to have fun? Bandmaster Thiele advised a spectacular band pageant together with parade, tattoo, contests, featured soloists, massed bands and fireworks. On July 2, Waterloo welcomed 23 bands from across the province to the “Golden Jubilee Competition.” Waterloo Park’s bandshell, pavilion, cricket oval and numerous wooded corners reverberated to the sound of instrumental competitions, solo performances by well-known out-of-town cornetists and a stunning “Competition of Empire” that includes flags of all of the Dominions. Fourteen attending bands paraded via Waterloo’s downtown, attracting enormous crowds to the night’s grand finale within the park. A march previous and massed band live performance mixed Kitchener’s Scots Fusiliers Band beneath George Ziegler, Dundas’ Wentworth Rifles Band and Thiele’s Waterloo band, all enjoying in unison. It was capped off with an excellent fireworks extravaganza. Some 15,000 folks attended — very spectacular, however in coming years that quantity tripled.
Not solely was 1932’s extravaganza an enormous success, it established Waterloo’s band as one of many nation’s finest. Different communities’ bands quickly lined up for future festivals, wanting to check their mettle towards the brand new prime gun.
The annual festivals grew in status, participation and attendance. Because the Nice Despair’s results worsened in mid-decade, the yearly spectacle offered Waterloo with a highpoint of consideration, success and optimism.
The sixth occasion was subtitled “The Coronation Competition” to honour the crowning of King George VI in Could 1937. The Professor, a musical magician, was additionally a grasp showman! On a excessive stage in Waterloo Park’s oval, he had the King and Queen seated on thrones. The Royal Couple had been effigies however the 50,000 attendees may care much less — royalty was in attendance! John Mellor, in his ebook, Music within the Park, describes the subsequent scene: “Because the nationwide anthem of every nation on this planet was performed by the massed bands, a boy scout accompanied by two woman guides, carried that nation’s flag previous their Majesties. Even the Swastika and Rising Solar had been included.” That 12 months, 1937, noticed Waterloo nonetheless haunted by the Nice Despair and Thiele urged everybody attending to carry canned items for the needy.
Because the Despair was waning, struggle warnings emerged and the subsequent 4 festivals’ themes mirrored the world at massive:
- The Competition of Nations: June 25, 1938. 34 bands, 1,000 members and 20,000 followers. The pageant was partly broadcast on CBC and NBC radio.
- The Empire at Peace: June 24, 1939. 50 bands, 1,500 musicians and 15,000 attendees.
- The Oshawa Women Flute Band was a primary. Observers observed an elevated martial flavour to the occasion.
- The Empire at Warfare: June 29, 1940. 27 bands, 15,000 followers. The primary pageant of the struggle featured many younger performers and contestants — many older musicians had been within the companies.
- Salute to Britain: June 28, 1941. 36 bands, a number of army shows. The Metropolis of Waterloo inexplicably withdrew its assist of WMS however two service golf equipment stepped ahead to make sure the pageant went forward.
The termination of the city’s assist and the lack of so many musicians brought on Waterloo Musical Society to cancel the subsequent 4 festivals — none had been held till 1946. Postwar, WMS and Thiele resumed the festivals till his 1954 dying. The annual occasions continued till the late Nineteen Fifties. Since then, solely sporadic special-occasion band festivals have been organized, one such in 1982 throughout Waterloo’s one hundred and twenty fifth anniversary.
These Waterloo band festivals of the Thirties performed an element in lifting Waterloo out of the Despair mindset and pivoting towards a struggle footing.
Flash from the Previous featured Professor C.F. Thiele in April 2016