TWU students introduce Canadian Dixie to the south

Langley, B.C.—While Dixie music has had over 100 years to establish itself as a music genre, a group of six Trinity Western University student instrumentalists have had just over two years to familiarize themselves with the Dixie style that has come to define them. Building their skills with each performance, the group has come into form in time to make international news. Their capable mix of cornet, clarinet, tenor sax, trombone, tuba and drums garnered them the only Canadian invitation to participate in the CIDA 10th Annual National Conference at Lee University in Tennessee, this February.

Each year the Christian Instrumentalists and Directors Association (CIDA) invites directors and their students from across the United States to both showcase and build on their talents. Accomplished musicians from the New York Philharmonic and well-respected music schools from across the U.S. gather at the conference to work with students. The TWU Dixie band was the first Canadian group to participate in the event.

“The TWU Dixieland Band was a big hit,” says Paul Hoelzley, PhD, TWU Dixie band director and professor of music. “They received accolades from fellow students and many of the university band directors attending the conference.”

The TWU Dixie band was an ambassador of Canadian musical talent whose mark was difficult to miss. Not only did they make the conference an international event, they also impressed the Southern music community. “There was a cultural interaction between Canadians and Americans prompted by our music that resulted in wonderful friendships and experiences,” says Lisa-Joy Lindahl, tenor sax player for the group. “I’ll always remember the popularity of Canadian Dixie. Every note had a memory.” Lindahl fondly recalls the ‘Canadian Dixie’ hats they gave out. “The crowds loved them!” she says.

While the Dixie sound is native to the Tennessee area—gaining in popularity in the early 1900s and later migrating north—its presence was noticeably absent from the previous conferences. “I think that’s one of the reasons we were invited,” says Hoelzley. “We mentioned that Dixie music was absent from the program at the time we sent in our demo CD and not long after we received our invitation.”

Familiar with the make-shift concert halls of coffee houses, hospital wards and seniors’ homes, the TWU group has come a long way in building their strengths as a Dixie group.
Together since 2001, the group was prompted to form by their music professor. “When I saw the makeup of students here and the instruments, I thought, ‘I have all these excellent players and the instrumentation for a Dixieland band, we should do it’,” says Hoelzley. “For two years now the music of these talented musicians has brought joy to audiences.”

But the breadth of this group’s musical skill goes beyond Dixie. All attending TWU musicians were also invited to play in the conference’s distinguished honour band, a symphonic band that does classical music made up of the “best university players”.

This spring, the TWU Dixie band will release their first CD, “Canadian Dixie.”

Trinity Western University, located in Langley, B.C., is a not-for-profit Christian liberal arts university enrolling over 3,500 students this year. With a broad based, liberal arts and sciences curriculum, the University offers undergraduate degrees in 38 major areas of study ranging from business, education and computer science to biology and nursing, and 13 other graduate degrees including counselling psychology, theology and administrative leadership.

Last Updated: 2015-07-20
Author: Keela Keeping