Sunday, July 11, 2010

For Brenda

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. I've been out of town for the past couple of weeks performing at the Saskatchewan Jazz Festival and teaching at the Prairielands Jazz Camp in Regina, Saskatchewan. It was a busy week and I'm exhausted from a lack of proper sleep but the students were great and really rose to the occasion for Friday and Saturday's performances. Jazz lives in Saskatchewan !!!

Thank you to all the students, faculty and support staff who worked so hard to make this camp a success. Hope to see you all out again next year !

Unfortunately I received some very sad news last week that my good friend and mentor Brenda McAlpine passed away after a brief battle with cancer. Brenda was a good friend and an important teacher of mine during my younger years. When I first met Brenda I was in grade 10 and brand new to the concept of small group Jazz improvisation when I worked with her in a small group she coached for the Regina Lions Band. She was very patient and encouraging with us - especially considering that I didn't have a clue what I was doing (!) She really went out of her way to help us discover the world of Jazz music and it's infinite possibilities. I still enjoy listening to the many recordings she introduced me to including "Kenny Clarke Meets The Detroit Jazz Men" (one of my all-time favorites). She taught me to always put the music first and listen carefully to what was going on around me at all times. Her teachings helped set the pace for my career as a Jazz drummer in the years to come.

I last saw Brenda during the first week of May when she asked me to give a workshop to her percussion students at Bowness High School in Calgary. I hadn't seen her in a number of years and was not only delighted to see her and catch up on our lives, but I was also happy to see that she had returned to teaching after having pursued other directions in her life after so many years.

Brenda was a great spirit and inspiration to all.
She will be missed...

Here is copy of her obituary that appeared in the Calgary Herald:

Brenda McAlpine

September 15, 1943 July 7, 2010 Brenda McAlpine passed away after a three week battle with cancer on July 7, 2010 at the Agape Hospice in Calgary, AB. Brenda was born September 15, 1943 in Hillsboro, New Hampshire in a hearse under a Horse chestnut tree, to Benjamin and Ida Butterfield of Antrim, NH. Brenda became a budding musician at an early age. Her first degree was from Plymouth State University where she earned a Bachelor of Education in Music. Later when she moved to Regina, SK, Brenda studied medicine for three years but later she returned to her first love music. Graduating from University of Northern Colorado with a Masters degree in Music Education Brenda then branched into a new area of study when she completed another Masters Degree but this time in Franciscan History at St. Bonaventure University in NY. Brenda's passion for life compelled her to do the best she could at any undertaking, and this included her second love, sports. She took golf to the limit. At one time, Brenda was ranked as one of the ten best amateur female golfers in Canada. Recently, she was a member at Bearspaw Country Club in Calgary, AB and golfers are welcome to wear golfing attire in respect for her love of the game. Brenda also expressed compassion in everything she did especially in her expression of love for people. Brenda's diversified careers and education kept her life at a busy pace but she always found time to listen and help whenever she was asked. Brenda taught music from 1971-2002 as the Music Director for the Regina Public School System, where she directed twenty-five Broadway style productions, numerous jazz bands, combos and vocal jazz choirs which won prodigious provincial and national awards. Not only did she teach in Regina, she also contributed to the music scene as a member of several groups, which included the Saskatchewan Symphony Orchestra. Brenda's final teaching position was at Bowness High School in Calgary where she gave her last concert on May 26, 2010. Anyone wishing to honor Brenda's musical accomplishments may dress in black and white as this was the costuming that the students wore during Brenda's last performance. Brenda's spiritual career as Director of Mount St. Francis Retreat Centre in Cochrane, AB allowed her to blend her musical skill with her belief in God. She developed innovative programs combining music and Spirituality and as a result created a positive and healing environment for both staff and clients alike. Collaborative teamwork became a way of life as Brenda shared her skills and knowledge. Naturally, Brenda was an active member of her community. She served on the Board of Directors of the Regina Jazz Society, the Wascana Country Club, the Rotary Club in Cochrane and Villas Glen Eagles where she lived. As you go forward in life, you will identify Brenda in others. When you see a beautiful smile, you will remember that Brenda only spoke kind words. When you see knowing eyes, you will remember that Brenda only saw the best in you. When you see a poised stance, you will remember that Brenda knew she never walked alone. When you see the world transforming, you will remember all the lives Brenda touched. And as we were touched, let us touch others in Brenda's memory. Surviving relatives include her sister Mary Lou Bell and Mary Lou's husband Dudley; as well as nieces and nephews, Cassie, David, Peter, Jimmy, Jill, Lyn, and Ben; stepchildren, Bill, Cindy, Bob, and Tom; and her grandchildren. Her family also included her beloved dogs, Aggie and Willie. Brenda was predeceased by her parents Benjamin and Ida; her brother, James; and her husband Ted Yarnton. Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Mary's Cathedral (219 18th Avenue S.W. Calgary, AB) on Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. The mass will include communion and a celebration of Brenda's life will be held in the adjoining church hall. All musicians are asked to bring an instrument to add to the joy of this celebration of Brenda's life. Wherever you are on Tuesday, July 13, 2010 at 10:00 a.m., we ask that you please take a moment to reflect on Brenda's life and feel joy. You may forward condolences through www.mcinnisandholloway.com . If friends so desire, memorial tributes may be made directly to the Canadian Cancer Society, 215 12 Avenue S.E., Calgary, AB T2G 1A2 Telephone: (403) 205-3966. In living memory of Brenda McAlpine, a tree will be planted at Big Hill Springs Park, Cochrane by McINNIS & HOLLOWAY FUNERAL HOMES, Crowfoot Chapel, 82 Crowfoot Circle N.W., Calgary, AB. Telephone: (1-800-661-1599).

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