Loon Lake Music Retreat 2023

By Addison Bryant ‘26 

There are a plethora of teams, clubs, sports and activities at West Point Grey Academy, and the one thing they all have in common is that they bring people together. Orchestra and band definitely fit those criteria. From full-ensemble rehearsals to sectionals, the Loon Lake retreat, which took place February 10-12, was not only an immersive experience to improve ourselves as players but also an opportunity to get to know people of all grades. The thing that those in the band and orchestra love the most is the social aspect. Many of us made new friends and reconnected with old ones, making it an invaluable experience in many ways. The close sectionals with experienced professionals allowed each section to become closer, and the seasoned directors for each ensemble brought an added sense of community to the retreat. 

Although we certainly spent a lot of time playing our instruments and pushing our abilities, the different styles of teaching made for fun and interactive lessons. The orchestra, in particular, enjoyed pushing our minds with small tests designed to test our neuroplasticity, some more challenging than others. Pushing our limits has undoubtedly helped us to become better musicians and has taught us that you can always achieve more than you think. With a nature hike, family-style dinners with amazing food, and a highly enjoyable movie night (with snacks) hosted by Mr. Elmer, the Loon Lake retreat was a valuable and fun experience for all and is most definitely recommended for all musicians who are looking to improve their skills while having a good time with friends.

By Henry Luo '24 
Loon Lake has always been the cradle of musical development for the WPGA Concert Band. Earlier this month, WPGA's concert band headed to UBC’s Loon Lake Lodge, located on the outskirts of Maple Ridge, to improve our ensemble techniques and prepare for our music festival repertoire. 

On the first day, the band met Dr. Wayne Jeffrey, conductor and a professor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. Dr. Jeffrey guided the band through new music repertoires, complex technical passages, and breathed life into the sound of the band. 

The second day began with two hours of ensemble practice. Then, expert clinicians tutored all instrument sections. Presenters shared concepts in instrumental pedagogy and assisted students in preparing their parts. Instrument sections learned to play with strong tone, volume and dynamics. Following a total of six hours of practice, the band embarked on a nature walk. A stroll around Loon Lake allowed everyone to appreciate the nature of BC and decompress. The concert band wrapped up ensemble practice with Dr. Jeffrey that evening. The band achieved better technique, dynamics and phrasing in all of the repertoires. The evening was topped off with a movie night. Popcorn and licorice accompanied the most recent Black Panther movie, Wakanda Forever. The last day ended with both strings and the band performing their repertoire. 

The Loon Lake experience was once again enjoyed by all. The cafeteria served delicious food, and hot chocolate always ended the day. Under the leadership of Mr. Elmer, the band is ready to polish their repertoire and prepare for the music festival season in April.