First clarient Kathy Bromhall (left) joined the Telephone City Musical Society in 1978. Beside her is TCMS president Tracy Boyes.

Brian Thompson / The Expositor

Kathy Bromhall was just 17 when she joined the Telephone City Musical Society in the summer of 1978.

“I was just out of high school,” recalls Bromhall, whose father encouraged her to join the band, affiliated with the Royal Canadian Legion, to keep up her musical skills.

She says Fred Nicholas, conductor at the time, invited her to join the band that was preparing to play the national anthems for Arthur Fiedler and Boston Pops Orchestra at their outdoor concert on Kirby Island on the Grand River in 1978.

“I hadn’t even played with them before,” Bromhall muses. “I went and played, had front row seats, and watched the Boston Pops. It was just amazing.”

Forty-one years later Bromhall plays first clarinet for TCMS which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

Largely made up of veterans returning from war as The Great War Veterans Association Band in 1919, the band has seen a number of name changes in its history. But its purpose has always been to provide Brantford citizens with music at parades, ceremonies and concerts. The band has played at Remembrance Day ceremonies in Brantford for 98 of the past 100 years.

Members of the Canadian Legion Band, which later became the Telephone City Musical Society assemble for a group photo at the Bell Memorial in July 1947. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Brian Thompson /

Brian Thompson/The Expositor

“We play at some nursing homes, and sometimes a Christmas concert in co-ordination with a public school choir,” says Tracy Boyes, president of the community concert band.

“It’s a good night out, and it’s a lot of fun,” she says. “I enjoy playing the music, and going to nursing homes to play for residents who quite enjoy it. We play stuff that speaks to them, hymns and things they remember and can sing along to.”

Having played Movie Night and Music Night events at Harmony Square in the past, the band is able to adapt to different genres, from traditional music to rock ‘n’ roll and marches to swing, says Boyes.

“We have a very eclectic style,” says music director Josh Crouch. “From the classics of band repertoire, to new Canadian composers, movies scores and orchestral transcriptions.”

Crouch says he’s thankful for the opportunity the band gave him five years ago as musical director, with the ability to choose the program for concerts and prepare the band.

“It’s absolutely great to stand in front of the group of people we have,” Crouch says. “I challenge this group to be better. We put the effort in and we get there.”

Music director Josh Crouch conducts the Telephone City Musical Society concert band.

Brian Thompson /

The Expositor

While the band is growing, the music director says there are struggles with only 17 current members.

“There are missing instruments – bass clarinet, a few more trumpets – I’d love to have those seats filled,” Crouch says. “Kathy, our lead clarinettist is extremely flexible and can play different parts when needed, and does a great job.”

Telephone City Musical Society members (from left) Dan Edwards on tuba, Karen Cooke on french horn, and Matt Osborn on trumpet play during a practice session at Harmony United Church.

Brian Thompson /

The Expositor

Crouch says being a member of the community concert band is a chance to get out to do something you love doing, or loved doing and want to get back to. “I want it to be fun, have a few laughs, and make some music together as a family.”

The Telephone City Musical Society meets each Tuesday from 7:15 to 9 p.m. at Harmony United Church on Marlborough Street. Membership is $50, and some instruments are available to rent.

Boyes says the fall is a great time to join, as the new program is just getting under way and everyone has to learn the new music.

“All levels and ages are welcome —  as long as you can read music.”

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