The Orillia Silver Band has provided a rich history of brass-band music in Orillia and the surrounding area for more than 60 years. It was formed in 1949 as the I.O.O.F. Orillia Brass Band, thanks to the skilled direction and musical devotion of Harry Peacock and with the aid of the Orillia Oddfellows Lodge. At that time, the band depended upon scrap drives, bottle collections and other fundraising activities to keep it going. Bandmaster Peacock retired in 1971, after 22 years at the conductor's podium, and was succeeded by Ellwood Brennan.
The band emerged as a significant musical force in the region. Modelled on the classic British brass-band ensemble, the OSB drew heavily on the bandsmen of the local Salvation Army Citadel. Under Bandmaster Peacock, the band won 28 first prizes, 10 second prizes and five third prizes in competition at Toronto's Canadian National Exhibition, the Toronto Music Festival, the Waterloo Band Festival and at events in Peterborough, Lindsay and Orillia. At the CNE, it took home the prestigious Boosey & Hawkes Trophy. The band grew in strength and popularity for more than four decades, performing a significant role in Orillia's arts and church communities as well as competing regularly. After the passing of Bandmaster Peacock in 1976, the band dissolved around 1981.
The Orillia Silver Band was able to re-emerge some 20 years later by bonding together the strength and experience of sixteen original members with the talent and energy of fourteen new members. Much of the credit is due to conductor Jim Ferris, a retired music teacher from Parry Sound, a member of MusicFest Canada's Hall of Fame and consultant for Yamaha's Music in Education program. The reconstituted band held its first rehearsal in December, 2004, and played its first concert in Parry Sound in April, 2005. It became a regular participant at the Festival of Brass in Toronto each spring, hosted by the award-winning Hannaford Street Silver Band.
The OSB has also commissioned Canadian compositions, notably Robert Redhead's "Railroad Trilogy," based on Gordon Lightfoot's song "Canadian Railroad Trilogy." Robert Redhead is an internationally renowned composer who retired to Orillia. He has also guest-conducted the band on occasion. The OSB is grateful to Gordon Lightfoot for permission to use his song.
The band performs regularly in the Orillia area, often teaming up with other musical groups from the region. It also sponsors and administers the Rose Dancyger Memorial Scholarship and the Harry Peacock Memorial Scholarship, helping students to further their musical education.
Bandmasters (Original Band)
Harry Peacock, Ellwood Brennan, Dan Dunlop, Bill Gallagher
Bandmasters (Current Band)
Jim Ferris, Paul Rayment, Curtis Metcalf, Spencer Linington, Neil Barlow
A special thanks to Col. Robert Redhead for his assistance when needed.