Mocha Shrine Historic Concert Band History

Many thanks to Noble Fil Cappa for the following band history

It was back in 1912 that the BRASS BAND, now known as the Mocha Shrine Historic Concert Band was formed, under the leadership of Noble Tom Hawkes. This was the second uniformed unit to be formed at Mocha Temple, the first being the Mocha Patrol, now known as the Directorsnick Staff, which was formed in 1906.

In 1919, when Noble Hawkes was appointed to the Divan, the position of bandmaster was filled by a famous leader of the day, Noble Roselle Pococke. Membership in Mocha Temple at that time was 1,200 Nobles. He was succeeded by Noble Richard Errington, who served until his death in 1932. In 1933, Noble Fred Weekes was appointed Bandmaster and served the longest term in the history of the band. A quote from the Temple records of 1944 – “Mocha’s famous Brass Band, at the request of the Hi-Ro Shrine Cub, put on a benefit concert in St. Thomas in aid of the Victory Loan campaign.”

In 1953, Noble Fred Weeks, on stepping down and handing the baton to his Assistant Bandmaster, Noble Bill Perryman, was appointed Musical Director for Mocha Temple, to look after all program arrangements, a position he held until 1968.

Following the Second World War a number of musicians joined the Shrine Band. A product of British military bands, Noble Nick Carter, who had joined the Mocha Temple Concert Band in 1950 and was appointed Assistant Bandmaster in 1953, assumed the leadership of the band in 1960. When Noble Carter stepped down in 1976, Assistant Bandmaster Noble Oscar Crouch conducted the band for a few months until the appointment in 1977 of Noble Jack Byrick, who held the position until 1985. Then, Assistant Bandmaster Noble Earl Todd took over and led the band for the next seven years. He was succeeded in 1992 by Noble Dave Bentley.

When Noble Bentley found it necessary to step down in 1995, because of other Masonic commitments, for the first time in the history of the band a non-Shriner was appointed conductor. Mr. Andy Hoe was a British trained versatile musician, conductor and arranger, who had arranged and donated several selections to the band because of his friendship with some of the bandsmen. When Andy could no longer continue because of poor health, he was replaced in 1997 by the lead trombone player, Noble Don Smith. However, Noble Smith’s professional commitments made it necessary for him to step down at the end of 1999.

Noble Earl Todd, who had reverted to the trumpet section, took up the baton again and filled in for the next few months, until another competent British trained musician, Mr Frank Goddard became available in October, 2001. However, he proved to be incompatible and was dismissed in March, 2002. As Noble Todd’s health would not permit him to return for a third time, during the next few months the band struggled without a leader, and even considered disbanding for a time in order to recoup. But the band continued through.

At the beginning of 2003, there was not a Shriner available for the role of Bandmaster, so for the first time the band found it necessary to hire and pay a conductor. This was done until June of 2006. During that period there were three conductors hired. For the first few months, a semi-retired public school music teacher, Mr. Jack Barnes assumed the role. From September 2003 to September 2005 a competent senior student, Mr. Shawn Chabot, who was enrolled in the Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario and subsequently at Althouse College, was engaged. From then until June, 2006, the conductor was a graduate student from the Faculty of Music, Mr. Hank Fletcher.

In June, 2006, Noble Dave Bentley returned to be the Bandmaster and filled the rule until his untimely illness and death in 2008. The lead clarinet player, Noble Chuck Carrothers, took over as conductor until ill-health forced him to retire from the band in 2010. In November, 2010, Mr. Don McKeller, a retired Professor from the Faculty of Music, University of Western Ontario, volunteered to conduct the band. Conductor McKellorearl, himself a Mason from a Masonic family, is a brother of the late Noble Ian McKeller, who was a very active Shriner and a long-time member of the Oriental Band.

Next year, the Concert band will be celebrating its 100 year anniversary as an active concert band in the City of London. In view of this the name has been changed to ‘The Mocha Shrine Historic Concert Band,’ as it continues to serve both the Shrine and the community— the Shrine by performing in ceremonies and fund-raising functions within the organization, and the community by bringing musical pleasure to those in hospitals, nursing homes and seniors’ residences. The band plans to play frequently in venues that are more accessible for the general public.
The Mocha Shrine Historic Concert Band membership has a foundation of Shriner musicians, along with men and women from London and Southwestern Ontario who enjoy playing quality music written for band. All the members are proud of the band’s past record of fund-raising for and sharing in the Shrine’s purpose of caring for Crippled and Burned Children.

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