RED DEER ROYALS
Red Deer’s & Central Alberta’s International Musical Ambassadors
The Red Deer Royals is truly a band with a difference.
For the past 46 years (since 1969) the Red Deer Royals have played a huge part in the growth and development of thousands of young people from Red Deer & around Central Alberta and in the enhancement of life of our community.
Royals members come from all social backgrounds and all socio-economic circumstances. Most of our 120 members join the band around the age of 12 years and stay in until they finish high school.
The Red Deer Royals have many impressive accomplishments.
- Four Gold Medals in “World Championship” international competitions around the world.
- Musical Grand Champion in the Calgary Stampede parade – and in the top 2 bands four of the past five
- Musical Grand Champion in Edmonton’s Klondike Days Parade in each of the last five years.
- Been named The Outstanding Community Youth Band in the Province of Alberta
However as gratifying as these achievements have been, it is far more significant that most Royals members would identify that being a “Royal” was the second most important influence in their lives, after the influence of their families.
The true achievement of the Red Deer Royals is being a profoundly positive “shaping experience” in the lives of young people. We help create young people who are positive, enthusiastic, determined, team-oriented and focused on serving their community. We are helping to create tomorrow’s leaders and contributing citizens. We call it “The Royals Experience”.
A Little Royals History
- Although community bands have had a continuous presence in Red Deer since 1902 (an impressive 111 years), the Red Deer Royals and the Red Deer Community Band Society were formally created by an Order-In-Council of Red Deer City’s Council in 1969.
- Intensive fundraising by every Royals member has allowed the band to tour internationally
every two to three years. Tours in the past two decades have included Malaysia (2011), Ireland, Germany &
Holland (2009), Australia (2006), Italy (2003), Germany & Holland (2001), The United Kingdom & France (1998) and Australia (1995). In 2014 the Royals toured Italy.
- The Royals do 40 to 50 public performances annually, playing for hundreds of thousands of people each year. In most years, 90% of the Royals performances are in Central Alberta.
- Over the past 44 years, the Royals have had seven band directors: Vic Wright (1969-1971), Dick Campion (1971-1973), Frank Connell (1973-1978), Jigger Lee (1978-1991), Keith Mann (1991-2001), Rob Goring (2001-2012) and our current band director, Michael Mann.
THE NEED FOR A ROYALS HOME
The lack of a true home base has been one of the Red Deer Royals greatest challenges in its 44 year history. Highlights and lowlights include:
- The Royals original home was Old Central School – known as “The Castle”. Unfortunately, The Castle burned to the ground in 1970, taking many of the Royals musical instruments and equipment with it.
- The Band rehearsed for a period of time in donated space in strip malls, parking lots and airport hangars.
- A temporary Royals home was found in an unused wing of the Red Deer Hospital during the 1980’s. However, with the development of the new Regional Hospital, the old building was demolished and the Royals were once again without a home.
- The Royals currently base themselves out of Red Deer’s Westerner Park. However, this is not a long-term solution.
We have been most grateful to have the use of the Westerner at a greatly reduced rental cost. However, there are some challenges with this arrangement.
- When the Westerner doesn’t have a paying group using the facility, they accommodate Royals practices between one-half and two-thirds of the time. This has resulted in Royals scrambling to find other rehearsal facilities, which have included seven different schools, three different hockey areas and four different outdoor athletic fields, none of which is really suited to an activity like ours. At times, because of limited spaces in these facilities, we find the band split between three different places around the city on any given evening.
- While some parts of the Westerner facility are well-suited to a band practice or marching rehearsal, at times we find ourselves practicing in pavilions that, a few days before, were full of cows, horses and chickens . . . and you can tell.
- As some of the Westerner rooms were designed for agricultural purposes, acoustically they resemble echo chambers. This is not the best for a band rehearsal.
- The Royals have had to start moving to locations outside of the city (Penhold, Blackfalds, and Sylvan Lake) to find rehearsal space creating challenges such as getting our equipment to the location and adapting the available space to our unique needs.
A big part of ensuring that the Red Der Royals remains a viable activity for the youth of Central Alberta is to provide the group with a permanent home with well-suited practice facilities that is available to the group for each and every rehearsal. This will help us guarantee that Royals will still be thriving as a youth-focused activity for decades to come.