Thursday rehearsal in the Cominco gym. (Guy Bertrand photo)

Trail Maple Leaf Band celebrates 100 years of music this weekend

Dinners, a picnic, a mass band concert and the Italian Consul General in town.

Old World flair will add to the celebration of 100 years of music in the Silver City.

The clock is ticking down to the arrival of Signore Massimiliano Iacchini, the Consulate General of Italy, who will be an honoured dignitary at the Trail Maple Leaf Band’s centennial reunion this weekend.

“It is a huge blessing to have the Italian Consulate come to our city where there is so much Italian heritage,” says Coun. Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson. “We are humbled and honoured he is doing it and I commend the Maple Leaf Band for asking him – I think he’s going to embrace our community.”

Iacchini is flying into the Trail airport from the coast on Friday afternoon. Iacchini will be greeted by community leaders and an RCMP officer in full serge, before he is whisked off to downtown Trail and seated at the Maple Leaf Band head table for a traditional Italian banquet in the Cominco gym.

Inviting the Italian Consul to the city took some planning, but was paramount to recognizing the band’s early start by Italian immigrants who brought to the new country, their love of music.

“The roots of the band started in 1910 as the Trail Italian Band,” said musician Terry Moon, a member of the event’s organizing committee.

“It wasn’t until 1917 that they decided although the Italian roots were there, they wanted to recognize their new country.”

So that year, the membership of 72 musicians under the direction of Frank Giovanazzi, held a contest to name the new assembly. Whomever chose the winner must have had clear foresight because the Trail Maple Leaf Band moniker still holds strong today.

After 100 years of performing in parades and at every landmark occasion in the City of Trail, the community has fond memories of musicians decked out in grand uniform and playing shining instruments at indoor and outdoor concerts.

Coun. Gattafoni Robinson grew up in the Gulch alongside many of the earlier musicians.

“I still remember them always marching in parades,” she laughed ( since 1990 the band has performed from a flat-bed trailer).

“Growing up they were a big part of the community and they still are,” Gattafoni Robinson shared. “We are very fortunate to have memories of the band, it’s a wonderful thing and a privilege to have this group in our city.”

She added, “And that’s what (this weekend) is all about, it’s a reunion of something wonderful and bringing people back together.”

Band members have been tuning up for months, and once past members arrive in Trail, they will join together for a mass band concert on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in the Comino gym.

Gattafoni Robinson encourages the community to attend the concert and pay homage to the musicians.

“The band has been around for such a long time, and for (past members) to come from so far, it’s appreciated, it truly is,” she said. “I think it’s really nice that people are embracing what’s transpired here.”

From May Day parades and bridge openings to Remembrance Day in the Trail Cenotaph and for years, opening Music in the Park – the band continues to be one of the most recognizable arts and cultural icons in the Kootenays.

Current bandmaster Joseph Fuoco epitomizes the historic dedication musicians have to the Maple Leaf Band, he’s been at his post since 1986.

Fuoco has been leading rehearsals in anticipation of the mass band reunion on Saturday, but don’t expect him to divulge what’s on tap for the centennial celebration.

He prefers people to come out and enjoy the extravaganza for themselves.

“It’s been a lot of work but all for the good,” said Gattafoni Robinson who, along with Coun. Robert Cacchioni, have helped the band’s committee pull the centennial celebrations together. “We are really hoping to see a lot of people come out.”

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