Each concert of the Cochrane Music Society (CMS) is something to behold.

We anxiously await this Saturday's 25th anniversary spring showcase (May 11) when they'll once again allow us to join them in their exploration of the evolving musical frontier.

Doors of the Cochrane Alliance Church open at 6:30 p.m. and the performance begins at 7 p.m. It's a smaller venue than they've performed their last few concerts and purchasing advance tickets here is recommended.

It's becoming a practice of the society to offer new challenges for its musicians and vocalists by commissioning and performing the works of new Canadian composers. Saturday night, two such pieces are being presented; one for Riverside Jazz, the other for the Band on the Bow and Choral Waves.

SEE: Two commissioned works featured at 25th anniversary concert

"I believe that Cochrane is uniquely situated to be a great city for the arts and having a program like Cochrane Music Society where we can explore Canadian music, where we can explore new music, where we can bring new things to our community and start great things from Cochrane.," says band director Adam Mailman, who is celebrating his 10th year with the music society. "That's really important to me."

He says it's common to hear performances of music that is decades, if not hundreds of years old. In contrast, the society wants to Cochrane to be a place where we can hear music by today's creative voices.

"That's why it's so important to us that we commission new artists and lift up new composers that maybe just need a chance to get their work played and to give them a flash point for them where they get inspired to do amazing things."

building bridgesTo the delight of a packed house at the Bow Valley High School, last spring's showcase featured a collaboration between the Cochrane Music Society and two Indigenous artists. (file photo)

One of those commissioned pieces included a bridge building concert at the last spring showcase.

READ: Magical evening of building bridges through music

Mailman says there's been a major buy-in by performers and the society's membership has continued to flourish. 

"We've got new people at all ages, from high school students who come out to join us, to people who've been with us since the very beginning, 25 years ago."

He says first and foremost, the society is about people.

"We do difficult works of music, and we do fun works, but it's more about putting the people first."

covidWhen it was finally permitted, the music society gave a series of parking lot concerts during COVID.

What quickly comes to mind is how the society found a way to bring music to people through COVID. 

"When we were in the state of COVID, people got together over Zoom to have discussions about music and how music works and why things work the way they do. Then as soon as we were allowed to, it was amazing to see almost everybody from the society come out to do parking lot concerts all over Cochrane and just get together wherever we could and play whatever we could.

"Since we've been back, it's been such a vibrant core group of people that have really worked hard to make this society everything that it is today. So, the last 10 years has really been a history of people coming together and doing what I think are some pretty amazing things."

Mailman didn't know he was being auditioned to take over the band directorship from Robert Billington when he showed up to lead a rehearsal back then.

"I thought that they brought me in because he needed a sub one night and he was doublebooked, or not well. But it was sort of a surprise audition. We had so much fun at that rehearsal, and that's the mode of operation since to just come in and have a great time."

The Cochrane Music Society was formed by parents of children in Rob Billington’s Mitford Middle School music program in 1999.

The Band on the Bow concert band was formed first. The members were either people with no background in music whatsoever or those who had played an instrument in school and then put it down for many years. Some of the original founding members are still active musicians and volunteers in the group.

The members’ enthusiasm for learning and willingness to practice was so great that in just one year Billington suggested that they might enjoy a big band genre jazz band. So Riverside Jazz was formed with most of the jazz players in both bands.

In response to the community's desire for a local choir, the Choral Waves mixed choir was created in 2007. It was small at first, but word spread quickly of how much fun it was and it quickly grew.

The vision of the Cochrane Music Society is to be a vibrant, dynamic component of Cochrane’s diverse musical community.

To our delight, they keep this vision close to their heart and warm ours.

Congratulations on 25 incredible years, and a toast to the many that will follow.