Chilliwack secondary jazz student returns to perform with former teacher

Ben MacRae will be in Chilliwack performing with former high school music teacher, Garry Raddysh

The concert featuring Ben MacRae is set for Sunday, March 3. (Submitted)

Jazz clarinet player, Ben MacRae, is coming back to his roots in Chilliwack to perform in a family friendly show next month.

He will be playing in the Creole Jazz Band along with his former high school music teacher, Garry Raddysh.

“I remember Ben very well. It is always fun and rewarding to have the chance to play with former students. I am really looking forward to this show,” says Raddysh.

The Chilliwack secondary school (CSS) Traditional Jazz Band, a band MacRae played in, will also be performing as special guests at the show.

MacRae grew up in Chilliwack and graduated from CSS in 2015 where he played sax, clarinet, oboe, flute, sang in choir, and played in the handbell choir, steel drum band, R&B band, big band, and concert band. He credits his music teachers Gary Raddysh and Bob Tarr for having created such an extraordinary musical teaching/learning environment.

While at CSS, MacRae also played in the Curbside Traditional Jazz Band which was led by Raddysh. He continues to teach music at the high school and the Curbside Band is still in full swing.

After graduating high school, MacRae went on to study music under clarinetist Robert Sheffield at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in Langley where he obtained his diploma in Orchestral Performance for classical clarinet. He is currently enrolled at Capilano University in North Vancouver where he is completing his bachelors in Jazz Studies in Performance and Composition under saxophonist Mike Allen.

With his musical studies in both classical and jazz, his is seen frequently performing jazz music and derived styles, as well as playing as a solo musician in classical settings. He has performed music from the Baroque era to modern compositions. Past experiences have included concert master for orchestra and wind band, chamber ensembles, pit orchestra, rock shows and much more.

In addition to being a full-time musician, MacRae is also dedicated to teaching the skills and knowledge he has acquired on to others, and has runs his own music studio (privately and at Long & Mcquade North Vancouver) for several years, and has taught students of all backgrounds, from eight years of age to 80. His teaching philosophy combines the old-school approach of vigorous technique, etudes and exercises with ear-training, student’s interests, theory/songwriting and jazz training.

On Sunday March 03, Ben’s musical experience comes full circle as he plays clarinet with The Creole Jazz Band in a Mardi Gras show. Playing tuba in the band will be his former teacher, Gary Raddysh.

The Creole Jazz Band is a five-piece band that plays the music of the early 1900s, with a few other tunes snuck in. The band consists of the instrumentation as it was when jazz was born. A banjo and tuba make up the rhythm section, while a trumpet, clarinet, and trombone present the tunes in the traditional jazz style.

“Ben is a fine clarinet player and adds so much to the sound. We might even let Ben sing a tune or two as well, as long as he behaves himself,” says Kevin Yeates of the Creole Jazz Band.

Jazz originated in New Orleans where Mardi Gras is a major event. The show will consist of a variety of early jazz tunes, just in time for the actual Mardi Gras which is Tuesday, March 5.

The concert is set for Sunday, March 3 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Christ Lutheran Church (9460 Charles St.). Tickets: $15/adult, $5/under 18, and can be purchased at Use promo code “CP” to receive $5 off the adult admission.

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The Creole Jazz Band. (Submitted)

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