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London Concert Band Historical Review

The London Concert Band first emerged onto the London, Ontario music scene in the early 1970s, but the exact year is firmly entrenched in mid air. Even original members, some of whom are still with the band, are vague about pinpointing the actual date of birth. Those with a say in such matters are in agreement, at least, about one thing: They say by 1972, it’s a good bet the band was an entity.

And so it came to pass that the LCB marked its “40-something” anniversary in October, 2012, serving birthday cake to audience members during the season opening concert. Some former band members were on hand to serve the cake and to share reminiscences. But, at the end of the day, the facts about the band’s origin remained shrouded in the mists of time.

However, there is no mystery that London music icon, Martin Boundy, assembled more than a score of musicians for a first rehearsal at Fanshawe College sometime in the early 1970s. It’s certain that during his tenure as music director at the college, the London legend started a community band that he never christened with a name. This no-name band eventually became the London “Pops” Concert Band and today is the London Concert Band.

The group’s leadership was assumed next by Frank K. Barrett who moved the rehearsal venue to Westminster Secondary School, where he taught music. Frank was followed to the podium by a fellow music teacher and later professor emeritus at the University of Western Ontario, H. David Nopper, who moved rehearsals to H.B. Beal, his home school. The band’s numbers dwindled to less than a score of stalwarts as, by the mid 1990s, many of the members had migrated to the newly formed Encore… the Concert Band.

Following Dave’s stint and the band’s near demise, another leading man on the city’s music stage - who was an original member of the band with no name - William Davies, took the lead. There was nothing vague or unknown about Bill’s reputation and his record in London’s music community. In his formative years, he began playing under Martin’s baton with the London Police Boys Band, followed by military band experience and playing with Lionel Thornton’s Big Band. He continues playing lead trumpet in the Prime Time Big Band and the WindMiller Band.

A graduate of Western University’s music program, Bill was also a secondary school teacher at Beal. As such, rehearsals and performances were at that venue. He led the band for the balance of the decade, bringing it back from its near death experience to once again being a vibrant, community “pops” band.

At the turn of the millennium, next in line to strike up the band was another original member of the no-namers, UWO music graduate and London high school teacher, Samuel Wendt. Sam kept the beat for a year, then took a leave. He has since returned to the band’s cohort, playing lead alto sax and is also in the London Jazz Orchestra.

After his year at the helm, Sam weighed anchor, transferring the tiller over to the current captain of the LCB ship, Robert Kennedy. Bob is also a Western alumnus and long time music educator. Since his becoming conductor, the LCB rehearsal site has been Lucas Secondary School and the band’s performance site, the Aeolian Hall. During Bob’s tenure, the band dropped the Pops reference and became what it is known as today: the London Concert Band. In keeping with the others, he’s another past player in the original no-name band with a faulty memory for historical minutia and a preference for sustaining mystery.

(Click on the link to “Conductor’s Biography” for more information about Bob Kennedy.)

The London Concert Band takes pride in collectively aspiring to the standard set by the late Martin Boundy, its first director. Martin was a music titan. About that, there is no mystery - past, present or future.

He also set the bar for those who have assumed his place on the LCB podium. They, too, are highly accomplished musicians who embrace the cause of sustaining his legacy with their exemplary leadership of this noteworthy community band as it continues to provide musical entertainment and enlightenment to appreciative audiences.