In 2017, Abbey Smith was the only high school student representing Thompson in the Manitoba Band Association’s (MBA) senior provincial honour band.
But for this year’s concert in Winnipeg on Nov. 3, fellow R.D Parker Collegiate pupil Kendra Martinussen is also along for the ride.
“I’m very excited, especially going with Abbey, because we’re best friends,” Martinussen told the Thompson Citizen Oct. 17. “So I’m very excited to share this experience with her.”
This isn’t the first time that the pair have gotten the chance to perform alongside some of the province’s best young musicians through the MBA’s honour band program, which was established in 1976.
Smith was a member of the senior band’s brass section last year, but Martinussen already has experience playing the bass clarinet at the program’s junior and intermediate levels.
“So I’m expecting for senior honour band this year to be another step up and to be a lot more challenging than what I previously played,” said Martinussen.
Having already performed at this level last year, Smith confirms that her friend will be in for a tough yet rewarding experience down in Winnipeg.
“Compared to the other kids who went I was probably the least prepared with my music,” said Smith. “It was super hard compared to what we play here. It’s just a whole different level with all the kids from Winnipeg and Brandon. So … I wasn’t ready for that, but I think this year, knowing what I’m going into, I’ll probably just work extra hard.”
RDPC music teacher Stevie MacPherson says both musicians nabbed a spot in this year’s senior provincial honour band during the first round of auditions, which really speaks to their dedication.
“I think we both felt really good about their auditions,” said MacPherson, talking about herself and fellow music teacher Sarah Lewis. “They submitted something very strong and we were both very proud of them and I know that they will represent Thompson in a very positive light when they’re down there.”
MacPherson said the application process for the MBA’s concert bands also serves as a good measurement of how far the students have come in their respective music careers. This is especially true for Smith, who was accepted during the second round of selections last year.
“It’s hard for the kids to see how much they’re improving and it’s really easy for them to be hard on themselves,” she said. “But it was kind of a gentle reminder that they’ve gotten so much better just through their hard work and perseverance.”
The MBA’s website says Smith and Martinussen will be performing at the Jubilee Place concert hall at 7:30 p.m. on the first Saturday of November.