Jake Wiebe on the drum

Jake Wiebe on the drum

Sardis drumline goes international

Sardis secondary's drumline will be performing in China over 10 days in March.

Sardis secondary’s drumline is China bound.

From March 12-22, Chilliwack’s famed high school band will be performing all through Beijing, Shanghai, and surrounding areas.

Conductor Bruno Gagnon isn’t sure what kind of reaction they’ll receive.

“I hope I don’t get thrown in jail; I’m a little unorthodox,” he laughed. “I don’t know, maybe they’ll hate it, or maybe they’ll think it’s crazy and love it.”

What’s not to love?

Last Friday, when the school was dark from no power, and when most students had already ventured home, the drumline musicians remained in the school practicing, just as they do on most weekends and holidays.

In the near black studio, with their toms, snares and bass drums in practice form, they produced a beat that filled your ears and pounded on your chest, that had shivers crawling up your spine and wide-mouthed smiles glittering your face. Typical drumline style.

But for China, the band is switching things up a bit.

In addition to its usual funked up beat, the drumline will also be incorporating traditional Chinese culture out of respect for the country.

The first number is a jasmine folk song where the cymbals will open up like a jasmine flower. Later, the band will “funk up the beat” for that same song. It will also be putting its stamp on a traditional lion dance, featuring a white lion.

“We’ll do what Sardis does best,” said Gagnon. “We’ll jack it up a bit and hopefully they’ll like it.”

Gagnon is currently in negotiations with country officials for permission to play at the Great Wall of China, the Bund waterfront, and under the Oriental Pearl TV Tower. He also hopes to play at the Beijing Contemporary Music Academy.

“It’s going to be a challenge to play in China because they don’t like crowds gathering,” he said. “But we’re working on it… hopefully we’ll make a name for ourselves in China and be invited back.”

Started by Gagnon four years ago, the drumline has been on quite a run.

They’ve played the Olympics, major sporting events, several parades, were hired by the PNE, and more.

Just this year the band was hired, at $3,500, to perform an after party for Seaspan after it was awarded an $8 billion ship-building contract. It was also hired by international tennis tournament the Davis Cup, also at $3,500, and by Holt Renfrew, at $1,000, over the Christmas holidays to feature 12 drummers drumming. The band also performed in the Grey Cup parade, the Macy’s Day parade in Seattle, and in front of the Seattle Seahawks crowd.

“The response to the band in North America has been phenomenal,” said Gagnon, who hopes to generate the same response in China.

“We’re a unique band, and I’m looking forward to seeing the reaction we get in China, but you never know what kind of response you’ll get until you do it.”

With just over a month before departure, the band is in major fundraising mode. The cost per student is $2,000, plus cost of visas, cost of equipment cases and equipment preparations.

A one-hour benefit concert is being held at Sardis secondary on Feb. 21 at 7 p.m., proceeds of which go 100 per cent to student travel costs.

Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the school.

For more information, call Sardis secondary at 604-858-9424.



Just Posted

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack woman’s 100-km birthday marathon to benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

RCMP investigating June 15, 2021 crash. (Black Press file)
Chilliwack RCMP say crash into median led to impaired driver investigation

Chrysler 300 driver allegedly collided with tree on Spadina median in June 15 incident

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

Abbotsford council has given permission for Chilliwack to use the JAMES wastewater treatment plant for the disposal of trucked liquid waste until the end of September.
Chilliwack gets exemption to Abbotsford bylaw prohibiting liquid waste from other cities

Process in place until September while new facility under construction in Chilliwack

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

A search is underway for a 75-year-old fisherman who went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search continues for angler missing between Port Angeles and Victoria

Canadian, U.S. Coast Guard searching for 75-year-old man reported missing Thursday evening

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

Most Read